One Day a Week Gamer

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 12
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 3 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Drafting a Graphic Novel Page on one day and then writing the page on an alternate day.
Actual = Finished page 12 on Ship of Shadows and then finished a “Rough Draft” page where I wrote out a rough draft for page 13.  I actually think that I did page 12 already and sent it to the artist who agreed to work on this project with me, but I think that somehow it got lost/deleted from the Simplenote app somehow.  Anyway, I did it over again and I’m working on new material.  Think I might outline/rough draft a screenplay version as I go along, but haven’t yet decided if that is a good idea or not.

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

  • For Fun:
    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.
    Traveller RPG: I started this a while ago as a book that I was reading just before bedtime, but I didn’t really make much headway.  I restarted it and I’ve just finished the introductory character generation section and I’m now moving on to the skills section and will be soon moving into the “lore” section.  This is a revamp (rules 2.0) of an old school British RPG from the 1980s.  Updated for modern times, this fairly short book still gives a great set of rules, game system, and lore that I hope will serve as inspiration for new sci-fi works in my own writing life.
  • 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)
    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.

Six Days of Gaming Down into One

I used to game on a regular basis.  All the time that I worked at the Library and as a teacher, I have taken an hour or two after work (usually after dinner or just before bed) and played a video game or two.  I didn’t often game for that long, but I didn’t need to as I was only using the gaming to wind down from the day.  For instance, as much as people denigrate Knack for the Playstation 4, I played it over and over during the first year of the PS4‘s lifetime because it was one of the few games out at the time, but I only played it for an hour or two after school.  However, even with just that short amount of time, I was able to play it through six (!) times total and to get the Platinum Trophy for it.  My point is that even with a short amount of gaming time in one day, over time (six days) it actually is an impressive amount of time in order to make progress in games. Now that I’m in school, however, I don’t actually get to game except on the weekend and it really is affecting how quickly I can get through my backlog.

Longer and Longer Games

I think part of my issue is that not only is my gaming time seriously curtailed, but also that games are getting longer.  Video game publishers do not like the “used game” market, so longer, more complex open world games, while giving value to players who want these longer games, also have the consequence of taking players longer to finish and keeps the games out of the “market,” so they have a vested interest in creating longer and longer games (i.e., game extension).  Now don’t get me wrong, I love single player games, I like cooperative games, and I tolerate (for the most part) multiplayer games, but long games just to claim that your game is long, doesn’t necessarily make it a good game.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

I’ve been playing this game since late February/early March and while it is a good game, it has outstayed its welcome.  My goal with games is to see the credits roll, but even after all this time, I still have several territories left to “liberate” that have a 5 star difficulty (the hardest difficulty in the game).  I’ve not looked at how many hours I’ve put into the game, but if Sony does a year-end summary as they did last year, I fully expect that it will be the longest game with a 100+ hours invested (so far).

You might ask, then, why are you still playing?  Well, last year I put over 120 hours into Mass Effect Andromeda, but I didn’t do anything with it.  This year, I want to write scholarship on every game that I play as I’ve pretty much decided that I’m specializing in Video Game Rhetoric and New Media as one of my two specialty areas.  It would be an absolute tragedy to have spent all of this time playing the game, but without being able to use it for school too–remember, work smarter, not harder.   Ah, well, I guess I’ll just have to power through until the end.

So, maybe I’ll be able to give you a Mini-Review of the game in a month or two (or three or four or five or . . .)

Well, that’s all I have time for today.  Have a great day!

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

 

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Game Mode On: Artificial Game Extension

ghostrecon_tier1_gamespot

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Wildlands Tier 1 Mode. 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.

Games Played on June 30th

Hello, and welcome to my inaugural weekly post on the games that I’m playing on the weekend (really Saturdays as I don’t really have time in graduate school to devote the entire weekend to gaming).  I’m going to try to position this as a “bonus” post that goes up on a Saturdays in order to fill out my goal of posting six (6) days a week.  This post will 1) highlight some of the games I’m (currently) working my way through (i.e., playing), 2) offer criticisms and trends that I see based on the actual gameplay and 3) highlight avenues of scholarship that I’m currently pursuing as a rhetoric scholar in video games.  Yes, I know the last one if fairly “nerdy,” but it may spark other rhetoricians to cover games that I’m not going to cover (for instance, while I might get a Switch and cover Nintendo games at some point, I don’t intend to ever own a Microsoft console and will not be covering/featuring Microsoft games (not until they completely overhaul their corporate culture, at any rate, something that I don’t see happening in the near or far future, but I digress).  Most of the games I will be focusing on will be Sony exclusive games or 3rd party games that are on the PlayStation format.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

So, this one is vexing to me.  I like this game, but I feel that it has gone on waaaaayyyy too long.  It is an open world game and it has this conceit that you have to take down Sicarios in the open world to get to the main villain.  However, what it does to extend gameplay is that it has a rating of up to 5 levels for each region and each region is rated 1 to 5.  I’ve worked by way through the game and I’m currently in the last of the ⅘ difficulty regions, and will be moving on to the 5/5 regions soon.  The problem is that not only does the difficulty spike, but the game adds in an external Tier system that forces the game’s difficulty even higher if you want to move up to the highest “level” so not only do the regions become harder, but so too does the game itself.  This slows down progress immensely and makes it difficult to progress through the game.  I’ve been playing this one since February and it has delayed me from getting back to Horizon Zero Dawn, The Witcher 3, and into another Ubisoft game, Watch Dogs 2.  I don’t mind a “meaty” game, but this trend towards extending gameplay just to keep players from playing other games is annoying a best.

Until Dawn

So, let’s establish something right from the outset: I don’t really like horror.  I like tension, I like action, I like drama, but I don’t really like horror.  Yes, I will sometimes dabble in that genre, but usually it has to be fairly mild, the original TV version of Stephen King’s It, and of James Herbert’s novels, some of Dan Simmons novels (specifically the “horror” ones) among others are somethings that I enjoy.  Right now, I’m playing Until Dawn by Supermassive Games for the Playstation 4 (PS4 Exclusive), and it is seriously creeping me out.  It uses ALL of the horror movie “tropes” to try to elicit “jump scares” from the player (and with me it is succeeding big time!).  Stingers, dark environments, limited viewpoints, etc., they’re all there.  If horror is your thing, then you have to try this game.

Basically, the story revolves around these teens who reunite after a tragedy occurred one year ago.  Like an 80’s horror movie, you’re tasked with controlling one or two of the teens and trying to make story decisions that will keep them alive.  Well, I’m not doing so great.  The character that I have just got surprised by a wolf/large dog after having to have his fingers amputated to get out a trap.  I’ve lost at least two teens so far (and if the wolf is any indication, its about to be three!).  The graphics are very well done–while there are times when “uncanny valley” does affect the character models, but only slightly and not enough to take me out of the game (just enough to notice it).

I’d really like to put this game in conversation with Scream.  While older, the Scream series has many of the same tropes, but Scream is self-aware in a way that Until Dawn isn’t, even though UD is a newer game.  I’d really like to examine both how those tropes play out in the two works and why the game’s developer, Supermassive chose to minimize/ignore some of the newer, self-awareness of the conventions of the horror genre.  Right now, horror as a genre, is making a resurgence, and I might even (if I have the courage) to add in more and newer examples in the horror genre (ItGet Out, and even A Quiet Place–as much as I’ve railed against it) to examine the rhetorical nature of UD.

Costume Quest 2

This a smaller title and it is a one that is based on monsters taking over halloween.  It features simplified combat and a fun art style.  The story is also pretty good as well.  It doesn’t look like it will be a very long game, but it does look like it will be a quality game. I’m trying to get through some of the “free” games that I’ve acquired through Playstation Plus.  I’ve got about 30 smaller games that I’ve downloaded over the past three years and I’ve not really played them, so this is my attempt to try to eliminate my backlog of games.  I’m about halfway through (as best I can tell) and I’m having fun with it even though it is starting to get challenging.  Looking forward to seeing how it ends.

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

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

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

ghostsoftsushima_gamespot

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




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

E3 2018 Conferences Review

E3

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.

Bethesda

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.

C

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.

C

Ubisoft

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.

B+

Sony

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).

Winner

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)

Sidney




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

“. . . 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




Amazon Associate Disclaimer:
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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



Dark Tower Redux

 

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You know, I’m almost sorry that I posted that I was conflicted about the failure of the Dark Tower movie to connect with fans.  I mean, this very blog takes its name from a line that Jake speaks in the first book (paraphrasing): “Go then, Gunslinger.  There are Other Worlds Beside this one).  My point being simply that Stephen King DID NOT invent the Dark Tower or the mythos that has grown up around it.  His story is but ONE of MANY out there–yes, it is the most popular, but it is NOT the only story that has been told or will be told about the Dark Tower.  He doesn’t own the Tower anymore than J.K. Rowling owns “Magic.”

However, some really ugly arguments and memes have sprung up around the failure of the movie and just want to take a moment to address some of the most problematic ones.

SCRIPT
So this is where most of the critics and fans have expressed most of their disappointment.  The movie is only approx. 90 minutes long, but tries to infuse 7-8 books worth of material (from my understanding–haven’t seen the movie yet) into this (very) short time-frame.  However, the element that really concerns is the fact the movie writers are essentially “work-for-hire” contractors and considered the lowest on the totem pole for the creative endeavor of the movie.  This is where the problem lies–a movie is a creative endeavor, true, and you need all parts to work, but the script (the story) is the most important part.  Without a solid script, even the best actors and directors are going to struggle.  Yet, writers of screenplays get no version of royalties if the movie does really well nor is their input sought (usually) for rewrites as in many cases they are replaced with other writers and movies become written essentially by committee.  Another thing that hurts writers is the fact that it is a closed system that privileges only a few.  Even in today’s internet connected world, you still have to move to Hollywood if you really want a serious chance at writing a screenplay–how is this even still a requirement in 2017?  If there’s an awesome screenwriter in Wisconsin, the internet is MORE than robust enough to allow that writer to write wherever works for them.

IDRIS ELBA AS ROLAND
This one is the most troubling.  Yes, King based Roland on the “gunslinger” archetype made popular by actors like Clint Eastwood and Yul Brynner.  However, nothing precludes Roland from being portrayed by an actor of another race, even though King’s description may have indicated/favored another race.  There is a tendency on the Internet today to label a person, or group just to be able to belittle said person or group.  Everyone wants a winner, or wants to be associated with a winner.  However, in a capitalistic structure such as the American movie industry there HAVE be winners and losers–there’s no way around it.  You can do things to help swing the pendulum in either direction, but there are no guarantees in a creative endeavor.  If it doesn’t “win,” then there’s this need to find a scapegoat and the Internet is currently on this kick where a diverse person/group gets the blame irregardless of whether or not its fair (I direct your attention to the 2016 Ghostbusters movie as prime example of this).

SONY
Speaking of Sony, I should probably note that Sony also has taken blame in this from many circles.  Sony, as a huge faceless conglomerate, tends to get a lot of blame for things that are beyond their control.  We (probably wrongly) think of the director as the most important component of a movie (I would argue it is probably an equal weight between writer, director, and movie talent), but I haven’t seen or heard anyone criticizing the director, but the studio.

We all hope for our favorite properties to “hit it out of the park” (a la The Lord of the Rings), but at the end of the day–is it the studio that failed to deliever on the story you wanted or was it the script?  Which of the two is more intricately tied to “story” and “story” formation, ideation, and creation?  For me, opening up the system and allowing it to be based on merit (good writers) and not location (living in Hollywood) or more importantly, networking (good a “pitching” a story instead of good at “writing” the story) would be a far more equitable system that might result in a rise in quality in the stories being told, and as a result, increased satisfaction from fans who just want their stories “done right.”