“. . . Went and Spent the Money to Make to that Happen”

E3_Videogames_Guide

Images of a several games, a couple of which appeared on Microsoft’s E3 stage.  Image Source: Videogames.Guide

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 400s in terms of page count–probably reading too much based on my schoolwork, but it is so good.)
  • 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 (finished–had to read this in two (2)! days.
    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.  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); 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.

“A Display of Dominance”

So, I’m just going to go ahead and say it without any preamble–I didn’t really enjoy this year’s E3.  By now, I’ve watched all of the major conferences (except the PC Gaming Show as even though I have a Steam Account, my computer isn’t “beefy” enough to run these modern games) and I have to say that this year’s E3 was far more lackluster than usual.  In my next post, I’ll give sort of a breakdown (mini-mini review of them) and then I’ll probably do one or two posts a week highlighting games that I really like until I run out out of games that I’m personally interested in.  The general consensus is that Microsoft (aka Micro$oft) won E3 (presentation-wise), although Sony and the other companies had better games.

“With a Ton of ‘Big Names,’ even if none of them–very few of them–are exclusive to our platform”

So, this was the comment (as are ALL comments that are in this post) of the Giant Bomb contributors as the “Talked Over” Sony’s E3 Showcase.   While they tend to be a jaded bunch, they are also industry veterans who have worked in the games media industry before so I generally like their perspective (not always though, but in most cases, their commentary is pretty good).  They noted what I noted a long time ago.  Any time Microsoft feels threatened, they just pull out their proverbial “checkbook” and just start writing checks to cover their deficiencies.  Most people don’t notice (or don’t care) as they just want to back a “winner.”

Buying Your Way to Success

So, Sony has had to build up their 1st party studios.  Yes, they acquired them and brought them into the fold, but the difference is that Sony liked their work enough to bring them in, not because they already had successful IPs, but because they make/made good games.  Sony makes an “investment” where Microsoft is just looking to buy a successful IP.  It worked with Halo and Gears of War and they tried the same strategy earlier this generation with Titanfall (Xbox exclusive) and Rise of the Tombraider (1 Year Excusive), but because of their crappy business model at the beginning of the generation, Sony’s lead in console sales made it financial suicide not to release a PS4 version of a game (hence the reason we got Titanfall 2 on the PS4 and Shadow of the Tombraider without the Xbox exclusivity period).  In many ways, Microsoft is like the sports team who can “buy” a competitive team that will win the world series, while Sony is the team who “invests” in a “farm system” and helps them become successful.  Sony will close studios if they don’t perform (Evolution Studios), but they haven’t needed to purchase any studios in years based on the strength of the talent they’ve invested in earlier.  So, its like a baseball team that “buys” its way to a championship vs a baseball team that has had to work hard to get to the championship and hit it out of the park.

I have theories on why Sony chose to do things the way they did, but more on that later.  Have a good day!

Sidney




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

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What’s On My Bookshelf? Injustice: Gods Among Us (Playstation 4 Game)

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

  • 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 4:15), but usually end up spending the time in the sun outside watching YouTube videos instead.  

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

  • 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); 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.  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.

What If?

Injustice: Gods Among Us continues this generation’s (Millenials/Gen Z’s) fascination with evil and turning good things evil.  Basically, this video game imagines a world in which Superman from DC Comics is pushed by a traumatic event  caused by the Joker to become “evil” by using his powers to form a fascist state.  Now, of course, in true good as “evil” fashion, he is not “evil” in his own mind, but uses his powers to effectively shut down all “evil” as he sees it–and evil is defined as anything Superman doesn’t like.  Any dissenters showing free will/opposition must be “dealt with/destroyed” for the “good of the state.”  Batman, from an alternate universe, is sucked into this alternate universe and must try to rally the remaining heroes of this universe into an effective resistance force to stop Superman’s evil facist state.

Round 1, Fight

Surprisingly enough, this is a fighting game.  For those unfamiliar with the genre, two characters square off against each other and fight using regular punches and kicks along with special moves (that tie into each character’s power set) until there is a victor or the time runs out.  This surprisingly deep story is told though cutscenes that happen after each fight and each fight is a one-on-one match ostensibly between Batman’s rag-tag resistance heroes and heroes who have fallen under Superman’s facist regime.  As you can’t progress until you defeat the enemy in front of you, there aren’t any branching paths; the story unfolds linearly in front of you, but the story is so well done and so iconic, that a whole mythos (graphic novel and game sequel) were formed from its core.  Elements of the game’s story can also be seen as “foreshadowing” in the DC movie Batman v. Superman.

Early Playstation 4 Game

This was one of the earlier PS4 games to arrive on the system.  I think it debuted on the system in the spring/summer time-frame after the console first released in the fall of the previous year (if memory serves).  While not a graphical powerhouse now, it was at the time and had several notable gameplay mechanics such as using the environment against the opponent as well as special moves that had the potential of either being super devastating and using the character’s power set against an opponent or destroying/changing the environment through destruction so that one could potentially fight in different areas of the environment.  A sequel to this game came out in (2017?) that I haven’t gotten yet, but fully intend to as I want to see how the story progresses.  This was one of the early successes for the DCEU as it tried to expand into games and films and shows that, even though they haven’t met with the same success as the Marvel Extended Universe (MCU), they still have a potent mix of characters and story available to them that, if done right, can really gel into something special in terms of story.

Well, that’s all for this week–have a great weekend! 🙂

Sidney




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

The Crew 2: Beta Impressions

crew2_steamcommunity_dotcom

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.

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
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.

Sidney



A Culture of Spoilers

Apologies for not posting yesterday (my first missed post of the month–boo!), but I simply ran out of time.  I wanted to make sure that I finished my project (which I was able to do–yay!), but in order to do it well, I just couldn’t do it and the normal blog post as well.  However, today I’m back–so on with the regularly scheduled blog post.

Spoilers

In the past couple of weeks, I have seen tons of spoilers online.  It as if there has been an uptick in the amount spoilers out there.  No, I take that back, actually spoilers have always been online every since it became a thing, but now, it seems that people either going out of their way to spoil things or they have become less inclined to guard themselves from spoiling something.

What’s Worse than Game of Thrones for me?  Spoilers, that’s What.

A case in point–I’m not a huge fan of Game of Thrones (you might even say that I’m an anti-fan of it, wishing there was a Lord of the Rings equivalent without all the exploitative sex & violence featured on the show).  However, I keep myself from spoilers from the show (and others like it that I dislike, like say The Walking Dead) in the off-chance that I ever want to see the series in their entirety for school (I am a Rhetoric & Composition/Popular Culture student after all), or for some other reason.   I want to able to watch them without knowing/being able to guess major plot points based on clues and hints which weren’t in the major narrative.

Yet, in the past couple of weeks, I had a major plot point spoiled and know the name of a major character who will die on the show.  Now, here’s the important bit: how did I learn about this?  Was I cruising GoT fan forums? No.  Was I looking a Reaction Videos from the show?  No. Was I on Wikipedia, IMDB, or a site where someone mentioned it in the comments section? No.  No, I was watching a Let’s Play for a video game called The Last of Us on YouTube when the Youtuber dropped the spoiler at the end of the gameplay loop while discussing a surprising development in the game.  There was no warning–I guessed the spoiler was coming a sentence before it was uttered, but I couldn’t get to my phone’s volume controls in time and I had a major character’s death spoiled–including when it occurs in the show’s timeline, so there’s absolutely no suspense left at all regarding that character.

The Quest for Views/Hits/Clicks/Whatever

A similar thing has been happening on YouTube for a while where YouTubers are often posting “spoilery” things in their “Thumbnail” images that go out to promote their videos.  There is a video game called Nier Automata that I really want to get and play later in the year when I’ve cleared some of my backlog of games.  It is supposed to have multiple endings with a mind-blowing reveal.  However, somebody thought it would be “fun” to post that ending in his/her thumbnail in the form of Hey what did you think about  [this incredibly important topic that happens at the END OF THE GAME]?

Really?

The YouTuber knows full well that the video is not going out to just subscribers to his/her channel, but to anyone who YouTube’s algorithms think in a good match (that’s how these videos get so many views–not from subscribers but those who are tangentially/incidentally targeted because YouTube thinks the content is similar to what you’ve already watched).  This is pervasive in the Web arena as well–clicks/likes = revenue, so being all spoilery some is a legitimate tactic (in their minds) to enhance traffic and to bring people in, but it has the opposite affect on me.

To quote a famous queen–“I do not approve.”  To all those would be spoilers out there: if you want to spoil something–great, but please, give those of us who would rather enjoy the story on our terms the time (& ability) to leave your content before you do so.

Sidney



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



VR Hype!

VRHeadset_UploadVR

Image Source: UploadVR

So this post is late for a reason–I went to the MTSU’s Library and to their Maker Space and scheduled time to use their VR Headsets (for a presentation on technology on Wednesday).  I scheduled 1 hour with Oculus Rift and 1 hour with the HTC Vibe.  These are 2 of the 3 VR Headsets that are currently on the market and after today’s demonstration, I want to get a PSVR (Playstation VR Headset).

It was incredible!

oculusrift_bestbuy

Image Source: Bestbuy

I tried Oculus Rift first and this was the best starting point.  It allowed me to get used to the VR space.  It is mostly a visual and auditory experience.  It is true and full 3D VR, but movement in the demos was limited.  You can mostly stand in one area or move one or two steps to see all of the content.  The content is fully 3D and moves all around you so that you can look up, down, around, and behind you.  I saw several demos that were really immersive.

htcvibe_youtube

Image Source: YouTube

Moving on to the HTC Vibe, it has a headset like the Oculus Rift, but it also has handsets that are tracked in realtime by two cameras and it allows you to have space to move around and this really opens up the “play” environment.  I was able to look at spaces, but I was also able to look in spaces as well.

Whereas Oculus Rift shows you the potential of VR, the Vibe allows you see how that potential will be realized once the technological limitations are addressed.

I’ll talk more about VR in upcoming post, but I just wanted give a quick impression of these two VR systems.  They look really awesome and change the nature of the interactive experience.  I’m looking forward to getting a PSVR sometime in the near future!