Microsoft HATES Cross-Play Too; They Just Don’t Want You to Know It.

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CrashFM logo.  Image Source: UStream.com

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

  • Project Independence Word Count: @3500 words
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Cleaning this up–I’m only going to list the ones that I’m currently writing (actually putting words on the page).  Expect to see 2-3 projects per month at the most.
Goal = 170 words (5000 words by July 1), added approximately 200 words.

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

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 750s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • 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.
  • 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 atMTSU’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.

Microsoft Doesn’t Like Cross-Play Either

So, this post has been building for long time, but I’m finally sitting down to write it based on the internet “hate” Sony is getting for its stance on Cross-Play this week.  For those who don’t know, Cross-Play is the burgeoning idea that their should be no “borders” between gamers and that certain popular games are allowing their players to play with other players on other competing platforms.  This console generation Sony doesn’t want to do it as they are way ahead and they want to control over their ecosystem and Microsoft has been accrued a ton of goodwill as they’ve jumped on the Cross-Play bandwagon as a way to promote their Xbox over the Playstation.  But in the past, Microsoft hasn’t really liked Cross-Play either.

Burnout Paradise Podcast Reveals All

What gamers this console generation don’t realize is that Microsoft isn’t as altruistic as they appear.  They HATE the idea of Cross-Play as well.  Early in the Playstation 3/Xbox 360, the developers of games were really into podcasting and many devs had some sort of podcasting presence.  Burnout Paradise developer Criterion Games was one of the many devs that had such a podcast.  It was called CrashFM after their famous (or infamous) fictional “radio station” inside the game.  You can find out more from this wikia post: http://burnout.wikia.com/wiki/Crash_TV.  Most germane to this post, on one of the episodes, the devs were discussing how hard/easy it was do Cross-Play between the two systems.  I distinctly remember him saying in the podcast that  it was extremely easy and here is the important point.  The devs said that it was so easy that Microsoft had language in their CONTRACT THAT PROHIBITED Cross-Play and they had to ADD IN CODE to prevent it from happening.  He went onto say that interestingly, Sony did not have any language in their contract either way or the other (not a direct quote as I no longer have access to my iTunes subscription with these podcasts to do my due diligence to provide a time-stamp for this assertion–I’m doing this all from memory).

So, wait, Microsoft, that paragon of telling players that they LOVE Cross-Play,  had language in a contract (allegedly) that prohibited Cross-Play?  Methinks, I smell a rat here.  Yes, I understand that positions change over time, but for the fans and the media to rake Sony over the coals for something that Microsoft has (allegedly) done in the past is more than hypocritical on Microsoft’s part.

In Microsoft We Trust–Until They Screw Us Over

Microsoft has been getting a lot of love lately and I just don’t understand it.  Have we forgotten how Sony was able to get a big console lead this generation?  They wanted an console that would need to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours so it could validate your games.  Their idea of game-sharing was abysmal and they were $100 more expensive even though their system was “less powerful” than the Playstation 4.  This is the future Microsoft wanted for gamers.  They tried to do the same thing as last generation by locking down Titanfall (what they thought would be the new conception of Halo).

I may be coming on thick here, but Microsoft is all about control.  This morning, I walked into our Graduate Teaching Assistants’ office and found a Windows computer complaining that its Windows version might be counterfeit (this is a LARGE university–I’m pretty sure their licenses are up-to-date).  All the way back to Windows 3.1Microsoft has tried to legislate how users of their software will use it and not counterfeit it.  With Win 3.1, they tried to this with a “cardstock” license, but the Xbox One was just the same ideas revisited, but with actual technology to enforce their dictates rather than words written on cardstock.

Sony may well deserve the censure that their getting based on what I seen/heard about the latest controversy of them locking down accounts that have been associated with their Playstation account–not cool.  However, Microsoft does not deserve the amount of praise that gamers are heaping on them as it will just encourage them to retry their dictatorial licensing practices at a later date.  Gamers keep shooting themselves in the foot by allowing themselves to be swayed so easily by Microsoft’s tactics in regards to Cross-Play.  Gaming sites like IGN and gaming pundits such as Jim Sterling aren’t doing the gaming community any favors by over-emphasizing Sony’s stance without doing research to find out what Microsoft’s history on this matter is, both current (positive–now that they are behind) and historical (negative–when they were ahead).

Sidney




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The Trouble with Villains

Each week, a YouTube channel that I subscribe to called Digital Trends puts out a couple of different podcasts.  They are a tech-based show, covering Home Entertainment, Home Theater, Laptops, HDTVs, Smart Home/Smart Speakers, etc., so their content, including podcasts are mostly tech-focused.  However, one of their podcasts, Between the Streams is a fun, “end-of-the-week” look at the happenings in movies, entertainment, etc.  As someone whose 2nd Academic speciality is probably going to be Popular Culture, I find myself tuning in more often than not.  In the latest episode, BTS 093, they mentioned villains and how they “love” a good villain.

Generation Shift

Okay, so this is probably where the generations have diverged in culture.  Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers (like myself), tend to prefer heroes (John McClain, Han Solo/Luke Skywalker, MacGyver, Hercule Poirot, etc).  We like villains, but only in so much as we want things to be challenging to the hero.  For instance, Alan Rickman‘s performance as the villain in Die Hard was so tense because he was the smart enough to go toe-to-toe with Bruce Willis’ tough, no-nonsense cop John McClain, who had grit and determination.  However, in the past ten years or so, I’ve heard a shift where a cool villain seems to be the only requirement now for good entertainment.  They were discussing various incarnations of the The Joker, but they make no mention of various actors or incarnations of The Batman.  Batman is a non-entity in his own movies.  For them, it is all about the villains and the Rogue’s Gallery and that makes me sad.

“A More Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy”–Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope

Let’s take Star Wars as a quick example.  There are people giddy with joy over Kylo Ren and the fact that the Last Jedi has a scene (no spoilers) where he and Rey meet.  They’ve even fashioned a name for the pair, “Reylo” in hopes that they will become a couple.  Really?  You want your hero character to become an item with someone who has murdered other people in cold blood?  And let’s say that happens, then what does that say about your main character/hero?  Are they then complicit in the act?  Rey knew about it and knew that the character escaped justice/consequences, so would she now be tainted with the same “blood” as her murderous “boyfriend” (again, assuming the producers follow up on the “Reylo” idea).  Luke is a “whiny kid” up until a turning point in his later into Star Wars and that’s all anyone ever cares to remember about him (esp. in relation to the cooler Han Solo character), but Luke’s arc is critical the successful revelation to the story because he has to deny evil in order for the story to work.  If he were anything like Kylo (whom the new SW) movies seem to dote on, the whole universe would be under the power of the malevolent Emperor now, with Luke standing by the Emperor’s side dealing out murder and injustice and bathed in blood like his father before him.

“There are Always Men Like You”–Marvel’s Avengers

Not to get all us vs them generational divide, but it is that denial that is at the center of it all.  Too many people today seem to want to be in power/have power even if that power comes at the expense of doing what is right.  In the mind of a villain, might makes right where as in the mind of a hero doing right is a struggle to be overcome.  Like Yoda said when Luke asked him about the Dark Side of the Force–“No. No. No.  Quicker, easier, more seductive.”  That is what villainy entails–a quicker, easier route to what you want and if that means crushing the life (sometimes literally) out of whoever is in your way, then so be it.  But that doesn’t mesh with our belief that all life is unique and should be allowed to prosper in their own way.  A villain says there is only one way: my way!   And shouldn’t we (especially as a species–older generations and new alike) stand up and say, we reject this and we reject you!

And that’s the role of a true hero.

Sidney



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.”

HawkeMoon

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

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!

Sidney




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Baby Steps To a Novel

So, yesterday I took my first steps to trying to complete a novel.  Regular readers of the blog will note that I’ve tried before (without much success) to try to write a novel, but this time I’m using my university’s Writing Center to help.  I’ve worked in the Writing Center myself all last year and I have a friend and colleague who is working there now who has agreed to a “Writing Partnership” with me–a fancy term for a standing appointment to talk about writing over the course of the semester.  Generally, they are used for long term projects (thesis, dissertations, etc.), but they can also be used for just improving one’s writing in general.  We talked about what I wanted to do ultimately (short-stories or novels) and we decided that writing a novel would be a good way to “grow” as a writer.  Then we discussed the idea I had for a novel and what the next steps should be going forward.

Character Sketch
So, my homework is to complete at least one character sketch–the main character/protagonist–and have it ready by the next meeting.  We talked about who the main character is (Skye–which longtime readers will remember from earlier blog posts) and what is her personality like.  If possible, I’d like to write a character sketch for her father as that is her major familial relationship in the book, but based on school work and obligations, there may not be enough time for that.  We spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of characters and how they should act appropriately–something that I don’t think that I always do well because of my interest in the plot.  Hopefully, I can really nail Skye’s personality and be able to create a convincing character arc for her.

Plot Outline
I also need to produce a plot outline for the next meeting.  Again, one mandatory, but two if possible.  I have “story map” that I use that is a 1 page “synopsis” of the characters, setting, plot, climax, and resolution.  However, I’d like to also provide a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story as that is where I always seem to break down when writing the novel, but I may find that that might be better suited to do after we talk about the character sketch/synopsis of the novel.  In any case, I do intend to do what Brandon Sanderson noted about how he writes novels on his podcast, Writing Excuses, where he notes that he writes down big tentpole scenes as he’s generating ideas for his novel.  I think that the tentpole scenes, in addition to the synopsis, would be helpful to do before trying to tackle the larger, chapter-by-chapter breakdown.

NaNoWriMo
November is National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo).  I’ve never really tried to do anything for the month because I always had school (or a ton of things to do in the month of November), but as I’m in the midst of trying to write a novel and as the Writing Center will be holding a “Write In” on November 17, I guess I’ll give it a try.  I don’t know what the outcome of all this will be, but I’ll blog about the process here to hopefully inspire other writers (aspiring or practicing) and maybe provide, tangible techniques and tricks to my fellow writers out there as well.

Wish me luck! 🙂