E3 and Me, 2018 Edition: Ghost of Tsushima (Playstation 4 Exclusive)

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Ghosts of Tsushima Cover Image.  Image Source: Gamespot

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

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 121 words (5000 words by July 1).  Currently at approximately, 4800 words
Actual = 500 words Monday & Wednesday morning/.  So, Monday night I managed to hit my Scrivener goal of 127 words, but didn’t make my 250 word goal.  I was too tired to work on this Tuesday night, but did work on it 4th of July (morning) and got about 

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

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3)
    Finished this last night.  I’ll write up my impressions of this title and post it for a blog entry next week.  Look out for it.
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua FractalA Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.  Finished a Book Review for it on Friday for class.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   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.

A Ghost in the Machine

So, Ghost of Tsushima debuted at another Sony event about 6-8 months ago, but all that we knew about it was that it was in the form of a trailer, the title of the game, and the studio making it, Sucker Punch, who was known previously as the developers on InFamous, an open world original superhero game (that incidentally taught me how to play open world games–Main Quests and Side Quests and how those two progressions affect the gameplay loop).  Well, they’re back with a new game and GoT (not be confused with Game of Thrones) is an open world game, but features the mongol invasion of Japan.  One samurai fights to save his homeland and you play as that samurai.

Stabby, Stabby Action

One thing that has impressed me about the game was the attention to detail.  I’m just a little bit of a martial arts fan (a huge understatement), so I really like the way that Suckerpunch pulled out all the stops to get their vision of what a martial arts game should be.  I really like the way the world and the system were envisioned in this game.  It is based on a real-world event and there is no magic, no science fiction, no genre elements to this game at all, but what it does do is shows how one person can try to make a difference in the world based on their beliefs and their skill set.  Again, for me this game is an aberration as it has none of the escapism elements that are usually associated with the games that I like to play.  What it does have is great 1) characterization – I feel like I know and understand the character and his motivations for why he is doing what he is doing in the game, 2) the game world – even though based on a real place and a real historical period, it feels fresh and different and new, and crucially, it feels realistic, like some place that had I lived at that time, would have been a place that I could have visited.

This is a game that, while a Sony PS4 exclusive, is a game that really shows what can be done if you “grow” your studios and trust your developers (aka Sony) vs trying to go out and “buy” your way to success (aka Microsoft) and their purchasing of Halo/Gears of War (and now those series have petered out and are also-rans) where this game is an amazing new IP with many stories to tell in its universe if Sony continues to believe in the “narrative” game.

Sidney




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Anthem: E3 and Me, 2018 Edition

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

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

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

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua Fractal: A Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   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)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

“Iron Man”: The Game

Anthem was first revealed last year, but got an extended look this year at a truncated game play demo at EA Press Conference.   Attendees to their event got to play the entire demo.  While I enjoyed last year’s demo, this one seemed strangely muted for me.  Perhaps, it was the way EA chose to demo the game with the developers giving a “deep dive” into the game which was really just a way to show concept art and not have to show the entire demo of the game.  While I do appreciate the Q&A format, in this case, it would have been better to have shown us the game and saved the Q&A for after the show.  Also, because the demo was obviously cut, it lost the emotional impact that it could have had.  Its like watching a two hour movie in half an hour by fast forwarding through bits/skipping “chapters”–you can do it, but it loses its ability to create tension.  Still, I’m sort of looking forward to it because players emphasize that it feels a lot like controlling “Iron Man” from the Marvel movies.  You decide when you want to fly, when to land, and the flight component is supposed to add a layer of strategy to the game as you can decide where and when you want to take the battle to your opponent.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

So, normally, based on what I’ve seen of the gameplay, I would be super excited to play Anthem, but I have to say, I’m in a wait and see mode for this game.  Mass Effect Andromeda made too many of the same promises, but could not deliver in the end as EA did not want to allow ME:A the additional time it needed to come together.  While this game might make its February 22, 2019 release date, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got pushed back until Mar-early June.  That is as far as I could see EA giving it so that its marketing doesn’t interfere with the marketing of the new Star Wars game that was teased for holiday 2019 as well.  However, I’m waiting on reviews before I go anywhere near Anthem.  ME:A was such a disappointment (for which I paid full price) because I couldn’t believe that EA would be willing to ruin one of its core franchises.  Well, they were–to EA, the ME brand is an also ran, now they want what their competitor Activision has in Destiny and their willing to sacrifice the quality of their games to get it, so no buy for me until reviews hit.

Single Player Story/Multiplayer Open World

The design of Anthem is intriguing.  Apparently, when you’re in “The Hub” (where you get your missions and interact with NPCs), you get traditional storytelling elements, but when you’re out in the open world, you play with your friends in multiplayer.  I’m not sure if I’m going to like that aspect of it, but the devs. did say that one could play the entire game in single player if one wanted to, but it would make the game slightly harder.  While I did have a “crew” that I gamed with on Destiny, I’m not sure how many will move over to Anthem, so that is also something to thing about.  Anyway, those are my thoughts/impressions of the game.

Overall Excitement Level: C

I just don’t trust EA/Bioware to deliver the goods on this one after their poor performance with Mass Effect Andromeda.  While I’m skeptical that they can pull off something magical with this game, perhaps the additional time that they gave to Anthem and not Mass Effect Andromeda will pay dividends to the gamers this time, and not EA’s shareholders.

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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Show Us The Gameplay!

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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!

Sidney




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Reaction Videos

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Two ladies reacting (laughing) at a video of dancers. Image Source: blogs.wsj.com

I’ve recently (since last year) become enamored with “reaction videos” on YouTube.  This is a sub-genre where people watch various media (usually trailers) and film their reactions to them and then usually they give some sort of impression of what they think after the trailer & reaction is over.

Usually YouTubers do the: 1) because trailers are short (generally anywhere from 2-3 mins. long), 2) because they don’t generally run afoul of copyright laws per se as the works are copyrighted, but the whole goal of a trailer is to be a sort of “commercial” for the movie, game, or whatever media, so generally speaking, publicity and legal departments are okay with the sharing, reediting, and remixing of the trailers (longer content is trickier as you have to limit your use to small clips of the content), and 3) they’re a popular sub-genre on YouTube.  They can bring in tens of thousands of views for really well done reactions and can help a fledging YouTube “channel” get off the ground or stabilize the viewership (& add new subscribers to a mid-sized channel).

The process is fairly simple–I’ve thought about, but so far, discarded the idea of doing reaction videos myself and posting them to YouTube as you really only need picture-in-picture software as most smartphones and laptops have the other necessary equipment (video recording, audio recording, and video editing).  The iPhone has all of that and I’m pretty sure Android and Google phones have them as well.  If you interested in a slightly more better set up, be sure to visit the following link for more information on making a reaction video: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-make-reaction-video/

The reason why I’m writing a blog about this is two-fold.  Well, actually tri-fold, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  1) I would like to start doing scholarship on this particular sub-genre.  I’m going to try to see if I can’t somehow pick a reaction/group of reactions and break down some of the rhetorical implications of what is going on in the video.  I have Narratology class coming up in the Fall, and while I know that I probably won’t get to pick movies and TV shows to do, if at all possible, I’m going to see if I can’t find some way to work a reaction video into the scholarship (paper, discussion post topic, whatever) and then see if I can build off that, 2) I think that I’m going to assign this as some sort of project in my freshman classes.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to make it a major project, or as something that we do along the way (like a two-week project that we do in addition to the normal classwork), but I’d like to have the students get comfortable with “producing” using video/audio techniques and understand the rhetorical implications behind their choices, and 3) (maybe) I’d like to actually add in reaction videos for this blog (& YouTube) for things like E3 videos and Comic-Con trailers (& Super Bowl trailers/commercials).  I haven’t decided if I’m “going to go there,” but if I decide to do so, then that would be the obvious places to start (& as they happen yearly, it wouldn’t mean too much of a time investment for me).

I’ll consider it.  In the meantime, here is a trailer reaction to the upcoming movie, “IT” by Stephen King that is particularly creepy.  The YouTuber is Grace and her channel is one where I watch content regularly.  Here is her Reaction to the IT “Teaser” Trailer and here is her Reaction to the IT “Official” Trailer.  Hope you enjoy!  P.S.  This reaction IS for a HORROR movie–you have been warned!