Finished: Call of Duty: WWII (Video Game)

Call of Duty: WWII

So, a couple of weeks ago, I finished Call of Duty: WWII’s (CoD) campaign and I’ve been meaning to do a write up of it ever since, but I’ve only just now gotten around to it.  Outside of the campaign, it isn’t really possible to “finish” the game as the online modes (Multiplayer and Zombies) encourage players to play them over and over again, adding new maps over time through the release of downloadable content (DLCs).  Many CoD players don’t even finish the story, preferring rather to hope right into the multiplayer modes and totally eschewing the main story (campaign).  However, I’m the exact opposite, I always try to finish every campaign for the games–sometimes I wait to start the multiplayer modes until I’ve finished the game (something that I started doing in CoD Modern Warfare), but now, often as not these days, I’ll just play a mission or two of the campaign before playing 3-5 matches in multiplayer (by that time I’ve usually used up the time I’ve set aside for gaming and move on to something else).

Surprisingly Realistic

So, WWII is a return to past form for the CoD games in that they were originally set in the WWII era before they moved on to “modern” warfare and finally “future” warfare.  Here, however, we follow a squad using historically accurate weapons and fighting historically accurate enemies in (of course) historically accurate settings.  CoD games, even in the WWII setting tend to be bombastic in order to emphasize the “action” part of war, but they did a very good job this time around by toning things down just enough and focusing on the characters in the squad and their interactions to make the game feel more grounded and more realistic (it all goes back to characters and character interactions).  They even go into some detail about the treatment of prisoners in POW/labor camps in the game’s 3rd act that is really well done.  I really like the way they integrated teammate “actions” (requesting ammo/medicine, saving wounded soldiers, or interceding with some soldiers locked in mortal combat) into the flow of the gameplay and I thought that also helped to ground the story realistically.

Nothing’s Perfect

So, there were a couple of things that I noticed that I’d like to see improved if they were to make a sequel featuring these same characters (or another WWII game in general).

  1. Stealth Sequences were a drag: In general, the stealth sequences weren’t really all that fun.  There was one exception where you switch characters and infiltrate an enemy hotel as a spy, complete the mission, and escape and that sequence was well done, but by and large the other stealth sequences weren’t really well thought out or done all that well, in my opinion.  They were more tedious and frustrating rather than fun.  They brought the pace of the game to a grinding halt and you, the player, are punished with swift death if you attempt to “brute force” your way through (especially on the higher difficulty levels that  I was playing the game on).
  2. Vehicles didn’t control very well: Don’t get me wrong, I loved the vehicle sections in theory and the change of pace worked here where it didn’t work in the stealth sections.  No, here the problem wasn’t the sequences, but the controls.  I always felt like I was fighting to control whatever vehicle that I was in and it was really frustrating.  The tanks, in particular, were extremely tricky to control, but everything from the planes, to the jeeps, to even the AA guns felt very difficult to control and I wish that the designers would have taken more time to really have nailed down those controls before release.  These were fun segments brought down by irritating controls that never felt “just right.”

Overall Score: B

This is an above average entry in the CoD universe.  For those who are regular CoD players, this might even be slightly higher–not the greatest of all CoD games, but better than the average CoD game with characters and missions that, if you’re not usually a campaign player, might actually change your mind if you decide to take up the challenge and see the campaign all the way through.  I can honestly say I enjoyed my time playing it–and after all, isn’t that the purpose of games?


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Author’s Note: All Tomorrow’s Children


I’ve actually already written an Author’s Note on All Tomorrow’s Children, but I probably should have called it more of a “Rough Draft” Author’s Note because it really only discussed the inspiration of the story and some of the genre aspects of the story.  Now that I’ve finished the Working Draft of the story and just need to edit and polish it before I start submitting it to various markets, I wanted to do a full and complete breakdown on just what the story is just as I did for Here Be Monsters and WarLight.


The Title

So this title has been kicking around in my mind almost sense I joined the Chattanooga Public library way back in 1996.  It was always around connected to a set of people using Psionics (mental powers–telepathy, telekinesis, etc.).  The original conception was around a group of kids who, in the future, were dominated and controlled by a fascist state.  They escaped and rebelled and fought agains the regime.  It was supposed to be a graphic novel, but I could never get it to come together.  A couple of years ago (my third year as a 6th grade teacher) a new idea came to me about a family of Psionics rather than a group of kids.


So, in the summer of last year, Sky News (British TV station) did a special report on JIHADI BRIDES and how many of them were lured into the camps of Jihadis based on elaborate promises made to them by these organizations.  Yes, super controversial, I know, but this is when the idea for the story finally crystalized.  What if one sister was lured into and recruited by jihadis for the cause of freeing Psionics from being discriminated vs the other sister who only came to lend her psychic talents to heal and make things better?  This is where/when I began the story in earnest.  It has undergone multiple revisions just to get to this point.  I see it as violence vs non-violence (Malcolm X vs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr).


So this story isn’t very long and isn’t filled with a whole lot of details.  Outside of the mental powers, there’s not even a lot of “sci-fi” going on. I wanted to keep it short and simple, but I may have made it too short and not enough sci-fi.  On this final polishing pass, I may look for places where I can add in future technology to help distinguish as a sci-fi story, rather than a modern day story.

Time to Create

This took a long time to write–I’ve been working on it pretty in some form or another after I saw the video.  I’ve working on it in-between working on my school work, working on grading papers and teaching, working on it while doing many other things.  Also, I’ve had a really hard time writing it and a really hard time finding the TIME to write it.  That is why Jesmyn’s Ward’s advice in Elizabeth Flock’s interview Read, Write, Improve was so timely for me because she said: “Persist. Read, write, and improve: tell your stories. Accept rejection until you find acceptance, but don’t become disheartened, stop writing, and remove yourself from the conversation.”  I realized that I’ve simply become to wrapped up in the day-to-day world of living without giving myself space to write, so every day I try to carve out a small slice of time (even if it is only half an hour) to 1) read, 2) write, 3) edit (aka Read, Write, Improve).  Sometimes I can’t do all three, but I try to at least do at least one of the 3 and all three, if at all possible.  I generally wake up earlier now–and that’s what has allowed me to finally finish the Working Draft of this story.

Research–Jihadi Brides

So I’ve mentioned it before, I had an idea, but scrapped it and based the majority of the story, idea, and characters on the YouTube video by Sky New–Jihadi Brides.  There are a couple other videos that Sky News did related to this subject that also informed this story, but by and large, much of impetus for the story comes from that YouTube video.  I hope the story isn’t too derivative, but I tried to capture both the essence of the culture and the “lure” of fanaticism that I saw in the video, just in a world where mental powers exist.  If you want to see the report, I’ve included a link below for context:



 I originally had 4 main characters–Yeva, her sister, Javan (the husband), and a “Spiritual Leader,” of sorts, but I rolled the leader and husband into one for this draft to simplify things for me.  I also originally had planned for Yeva and her sister to be twins with similar names (Yeva and Veya) as twins do, but it became too confusing for me to keep their names straight and if I, the author, couldn’t do it, I realized it would be difficult for readers to do so, so I changed the sister’s name to something more relatable.

Up Next

I am almost finished with the Rough Draft of a short story for the “Project Skye” short story.  I can see the home stretch/finish line with it.  It is very “rough” as I jumped in without planning and boy, does it REALLY show!  The story is all over the place.  I estimate I’ll need AT LEAST two more drafts before it even resembles something which I would be proud to attach my name to on a submission copy.
Well, that’s all I have for now and thanks for reading this long Author’s Note!  Have a great day!


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What’s on My Bookshelf? Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition (Movie)

Movies and Video Games

I have two main types of Bookshelves–one for books and one for movies and video games.  I have multiple bookcases, but it basically breaks out into these two types.   This week I’m picking from my movie and video game bookshelf and I’ll probably alternate between the two each week.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition is in my Top Ten Movies of all time.  This is very much the fantasy complement to Star Wars and is second only to SW as my favorite movie trilogy of all time.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the first two movies in the theaters, but I saw them on Blu-Ray later.  I actually didn’t see the theatrical release–but waited until the individual releases of the Extended Editions.  I’ve always wondered how I would have liked these movies had I saw them in theaters–the scale would have been epic, but I really like all the additional material that the EE brings to the story.  I think that Tolkien would have approved as he was adamant about history providing additional context and believability to his stories.

The Extra Stuff

While the movies are amazing and are a must see if you haven’t already, it is the extras on the disc that are really the reason why I like it.  These are the same extras as on the individual releases of the Blu-Rays, but I really like the extra information about Tolkien, about the construction of Middle Earth, about the construction of the movies, and about the way the movies came together.  The level of detail about the extras is astounding and has come to form the way I view extras in movie releases.  The nascent creator in me definitely approves–I always appreciate a look behind the “curtain” as it were.

Here’s hoping for a good week for all!


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Web 3.0 (Hopefully)

Technically, there is no such thing as Web 3.0 (yet), but I can only hope that this will be a “thing” in the very near future.  I’ll explain why down below, but I really think that the Web is beginning to transition into a new evolution, and for me, the transition can’t come soon enough.

Web 1.0 (World Wide Web–The WWW dot era)

So, when the web first came into its own as a way organizing and surfing information, it was revolutionary.  I got my first taste of the Web on AOL (that’s America OnLine to any younger readers of the blog) and I took to it like a duck to water (to use a Southern expression).  It was a great way to organize information for me and really fed my desire for signal (information) vs noise (communication).  I tend to be a high signal (lots of information), low noise (little of others comments and opinions) type of person.  I like being given enough information about the pros and cons of a product, issue, or debate and then making up my mind for myself based on the relevant data.

Web 2.0 (The Social Network Blight)

Then came the new “hotness” of Web 2.0 and that’s where my interest in “the Internet” dampened.  MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum all popped up, became popular, and dominated the Web experience.  A few have died, a few are on life support, but most are rumbling, stumbling along cluttering the internet with opinions and such.  And yes, I know that technically blogs are a part of Web 2.0, but a blog is much like YouTube–it can be for both personal opinions AND information and I’m fine with that (one of my highest rated posts behind my ranking post of Marvel movies which is my opinion on the movies continues to be the Author’s Note for Here Be Monsters–many people seem genuinely interested in how that story came together–which is informational in nature).    My problem is with sites like Twitter (too short for REAL information, but just right for off-the-cuff opinions), or Facebook (although for families it probably is a great way to stay in touch, especially if they are flung all over the country or the world).  It just doesn’t interest me much–it isn’t that I don’t have friends, but it goes back to the signal vs noise paradigm.  Social Networking tends towards low signal (information) and high noise (communication).  I do much better with information, but I’m resistant to other people’s opinions (which are not necessarily applicable to me)

Web 3.0 (The Internet of things or AI/Deep Learning Convergence)

And now we come to the real reason that I wrote this post.  It seems like we’re transitioning into a post Web 2.0 phase and into what I’m calling Web 3.0–why the media isn’t calling it such, I’m not sure because that’s what it is (although I suspect everyone is still so much in love with Social Networking that they don’t want to see it go).  This era seems set to be dominated by connecting all of our various devices to the Internet (aka “Smart Appliances”) and the rise of AI/Deep Learning Systems (such as Google Assistant and Alexia, Apple’s Siri, Driverless cars, etc).  Now this is truly EXCITING tech to me. Why listen to someone natter on about X, Y, and Z on Twitter, with just a few simple commands, vocal or keyed in, you could have a machine (physical or virtual) do something for you now.  That’s exciting!  More exciting that the Natterverse that we currently have now, at least.

So, I’m back into the game.  I’m going to try to find an area where I can carve out a niche now that the balance is shifting from noise back to signal (I’ve already done arduinos which are little robots that you can program remotely via a simple command interface, but I think I’m going to investigate a little more).  Still, pretty much anything in the Web 3.0 paradigm would be preferable to me as it will require a high signal, low noise paradigm, which in my opinion–see what I did there–is what the Web needs now.


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Commodore 64 Nostalgia: Kung-Fu II: Sticks of Death (or Caveat Emptor)

Despite the long name, I really don’t have all that much to say about Kung-Fu II: Sticks of Death as I barely remember it.  To be honest, I didn’t remember it at all until I pulled out the “reference card” and looked up images online.

Cover Art Bait and Switch

I’m sure the reason that I don’t remember it is that this is one of the first games that I had that helped teach me caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware”).  If you look at the cover art of the game, it features a Bruce Lee “clone” fighting another man with a bo staff.  As I was into martial arts, having taken karate, I was always on the lookout for martial arts inspired games.  As my weapons were tonfa and the bo staff, this game seemed right up my alley.


However, it was not be as the game, in truth, had little to do with modern day karatekas and ninjas than it does as an “ancient Egyptian brawler” where you fight ancient Egyptian men and “dog”-faced enemies.  Very disappointing.

Fighting Warrior Conundrum

Okay, after researching this game for this post, I now understand why the game looks as it does–it truly was “bait and switch.”  The game itself is called “Fighting Spirit” and is based on ancient Egyptian deities and monsters.  It doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, but apparently it was renamed for the American market.  I’m assuming that the box art was attempt to cash in on the martial arts craze of the mid 80s with the popularity of movies like The Karate Kid.

As I didn’t really have the money in my allowance to subscribe to magazines per se (I just purchased them ad hoc every month and rarely the same type for variety’s sake), I wouldn’t have known that this game was not what it purported to be.

I barely remember playing it and what I do remember is that that it wasn’t very fun. And judging by the lack of buzz online (few YouTube videos, no Wikipedia entry, very few sites talking about it), it looks like I wasn’t the only one with that impression.


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Submissions Every Day This Week (So Far)

So, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve submitted a story every day this week.  This is sort of just an update post of sorts.  I won’t belabor this post, nor name the markets, but I did want to let readers now that I’m giving it my all after the depressing defeat last week of both my stories that were shortlisted being rejected.

Citizen X

I just sent my story Citizen X  out to a market today.  I’m sure it has 0% chance of getting in the magazine, but I wanted to send it today as today is their last day for allowing submissions for this reading period.  As they have 4 periods a year, I want to try to make sure that I submit each period even when I’m pretty sure that they won’t use the story.  Still, what is the old “saw” for people who play the lottery: “you can’t win if you don’t play.”


I submitted HawkeMoon to an anthology that had a theme.  The story matched very well with the actual anthology, but I’m not sure how much it matched the theme of the anthology.  I think that it might work for the theme of “Shards” and I revised it a bit to make that idea more explicit, but I’m really not sure its going to work for them.  They did, however, push their date back from Feb. 1st to March 1st, so I wanted to be sure to get the story to them and let them make the ultimate decision.  We’ll see.  Depending on how well they think that I interpreted their theme, this probably has the best chance of all of the ones I’ve submitted so far (of course, if they don’t think I hit the theme, it will probably be the exact opposite–oh well, we’ll see)


Dragonhawk has already been published by Tales of the Talisman and you can find it on Amazon if you’re curious.  However, there are several podcasts that are looking for stories (preferably reprints) that they can have narrators read as part of their podcasts.  There is a Fantasy version, Sci-Fi version and YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi version.  I sent this to the YA one, but it didn’t work, but I was determined to submit it to the Fantasy version when it reopened.  I’m determined that every story that I do that gets published will go to these podcasts for consideration.  I’ve not had much luck with the reprint market unlike other writers, but I like and listen to podcasts, so I’d love to have my work featured.

Silence Will Fall

So, Silence Will Fall just went to the same market that shortlisted Citizen X.  I’ve had some success with this market, but it isn’t a given (as one can see by their rejection of CX).  I really like SWF (I like all my stories, but of the recent ones, this is probably one of my favs) and I hope they take it, but the movie that I blogged about recently may hinder it from getting sold, but I’m going to do my best.  We’ll see and I’ll keep you all updated on this (and all the projects) that are being submitted and in the works.

See you next time!


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Mini-Review: Alien Legion, Vol 1, Issue 14

So, as I try to come to grips with the Ship of Shadows graphic novel that I am writing, I am trying to relearn many of the lessons about graphic storytelling by rereading my comic book collection that I amassed as a teen.  Unfortunately, I weeded the collection down back in the late 90s/early 2000s and lost quite a few issues that would have been good to have.  I kept what I considered were the essentials, however.  So, I decided what better way to wrap my head around writing a graphic novel than by revisiting the comics that I so loved (yes, I know there are books like Scott McCloud’s seminal work on graphic novels–and I even own a couple–but what better way than to actually read the works that I’m trying to write and breakdown what those successful creators have done to really learn the form).

I’ve always liked the concept of Alien Legion ever since I first discovered it in a comic book spinner at Waldenbooks.  The idea of a galactic Foreign Legion spoke to my inner child just coming off the high that was Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The characters are extremely captivating.  I guess the parallel that I could make would be to have intergalactic Fast and Furious.  Wait, I take that back–that’s not interesting at all, forget I said anything like that–that’s actually a very bad comparison (I say, as I hurriedly scribble down the idea to get it written before someone else does).

In all seriousness, it really is sort of like a “Dirty Dozen” in space.  You have a group of alien soldiers, mostly humanoid, who go on missions.  Being that this is an “Epic” imprint from Marvel (a “darker” imprint than normal Marvel comics published at the time), this allowed them to go into more adult territory.  This particular issue is really unique as it deals with domestic violence and   the effects that it has.  Yes, this is told in such a way that it can be digested in a YA comic, but for 1986 and for a medium that was often marketed to children, this one deals with some pretty revolutionary issues for the time.

While the artwork is a little rough, it is still easy to read and follow the action.  The actual dialogue and story is also well done–I like how it establishes each on of the main characters through action and dialogue.  Captain Sarigar, a snake-like alien, is obviously the protagonist of the story, but I like how he involves two of the more hard-bitten Legionnaires in what is obviously a personal mission based on their reputations for being hard cases.  The story is very well done (for all of the “heavy” themes) and illustrates the dangers of domestic violence, both physically and emotionally to the victim.  For a comic book, it handles the subject matter surprisingly well and still manages to tell a strong story about a brother who, despite his obligations as a Captain in the Legion and a fierce warrior, only wants to protect his sister from an abusive boyfriend.

Overall Grade: B+


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