Gaming Over the Weekend

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So, this weekend, I didn’t really do a whole lot of gaming, but I did get in some gaming to help with the work-life balance.  I only played three games this weekend, so I’ll talk about each one below.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

So, this was the first game that I played this weekend and I tried to do one main story mission and a couple of side missions.  I’m slowly closing in on the end of the game, but the super high difficulty that I’m currently playing at in the game world means that I go down with only two or three hits, so I have to play it pretty slowly and tactically (which, I’m sure is the reason why the game designers required me to move to this difficulty to continue to get in-game rewards for completing actions).  Without this artificial spike in difficulty, I would have been close to finishing (if not already finished).  As it is, I’m about halfway through this province, with 2 or three provinces left, not including side missions, of which I have about 2-3 in each of the game’s 10+ provinces. Hopefully, even at this reduced pace, I should finish the game sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving and I can move on and give my time fully to another game.

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4 Exclusive)

This one is an open world game in which you get to play as Spider-Man (& Peter Parker).  Those who have followed the blog know that Spider-Man is my favorite Marvel hero and they do him justice in this game.  The animations are spectacular (pardon the pun) and the story (even in the beginning) is amazing (again, pardon the pun).  Insomniac Studios has redeemed themselves in my eyes for their X-Box exclusive game Sunset Overddrive and their lackluster game Fuse, both of which turned me against them, but with the soft reboot of Ratchet and Clank and now, Marvel’s Spider-Man (both PS4 exclusives), I’m now back in their camp.  I’d love for them to cement a partnership with Sony, but I think they are too independent for that to happen.  However, the Spider-Man game is simple Astonishing (again, pardon the pun), from suits, to gameplay, to everything, this game if filled with Spider-Man lore.  I can’t wait to play more!

The Crew

This game is a guilty pleasure for me in that I’ve finished it and I’ve done all that I intend to do with it in terms of gameplay, story, exploration, etc.  However, I just love cruising around the truncated map of the U.S. for some reason.  My original love of the game didn’t come from the story which wasn’t great, but wasn’t as bad as many made it out to be (a revenge fantasy of sorts, against an enemy who killed the protagonist’s brother to take over his number one position in the car gang the brother started.  The kid brother did time for the crime that he didn’t commit and so he joins the gang to go after this killer once he gets out.  Typical story that you’ve seen a million times before.  What I loved about the game, however, is the “exploration” that you get to do in the game.  I love driving the roads to see what’s out there, off the beaten path.  That’s what I’m looking forward to in the sequel, The Crew 2 whenever I get it.  Still, there’s just something about driving those roads, even though I already know what’s around the corner, that still compels me to pull it out and play it for an hour or two each weekend.

Well, that’s it for this weekend–hopefully, I’ll be able to report a more diverse group of games next week (fingers crossed).  Have a good day!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

Chromebook Nation

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Samsung Chromebook 3.  Image Source: https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/samsung-chromebook-3

Chromebooking It

I was able to, at the beginning of the semester, to get a Chromebook and it has really helped me to be far more productive.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still an Apple MacBook Pro fan. However, for general web browsing and research, the Chromebook has been a godsend (something I should have gotten over the summer and I would have been far more productive, but hindsight is 20/20).  A Chromebook, as long as you use web-based apps, and have an internet connection, is a perfect, cheap, alternative to most computers.  Is it as sophisticated and versatile–no, it isn’t.  However, it does the one thing that I need/want it to do: basic access to the internet and web-based platforms WITHOUT having to use Microsoft’s Windows.

Alternatives to Windows

Basically, until Microsoft stops 1) criminalizing users of its Windows Operating System by making them register copies of the operating system with a license that they can’t alter and 2) forcing draconian licensing agreements on users of its X-Box systems, I will NOT support them in ANY form (to the best of my ability).  In the age of corporate conglomeration, it is almost impossible to truly boycott a corporation’s products in order to affect change in any meaningful way.  However, Microsoft (along with Electronic Arts) is the poster-child for corporate machinations that I simply do not agree with no matter how much money their shenanigans make for their shareholders.  As such, I refuse to purchase Microsoft products or products that I know will directly or indirectly benefit Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, EA).  As such, I use Macs and Chromebooks because they 1) do what I need them to do, 2) allow me to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and 3) they DON’T benefit Microsoft.

Basic Web Browsing

My school (MTSU) uses a web-based platform (D2L) to help students and professors move into learning in a digital environment.  Since my wifi adapter no longer works on my 2008 Macbook Pro, it is very difficult to find places on campus where I can use an ethernet cable to “plug in” and find places where I can help my students become stronger students through grading and discussions online. However, the Chromebook helps me to achieve this as it is robust enough to handle the web-based nature of D2L.  Also, since most “apps” now have an Android app and/or a web-based presence, it is much more useful than one would think it might be based on the specs alone.  The true strength of the Chromebook is that, as long as you have an internet connection, it is pretty much a full featured computer and analogous to its “bigger” brothers–Windows PC/Macs.  Now this is really true if you’re not into gaming or any other processor intensive tasks, but if most of what you do/use it for is web browsing, streaming, light audio-visual, then it functions pretty much as (at least for me) a fully functional computer–allowing me to leave my MacBook Pro at home.  I’m able to MOST everything I want to via the web or web apps, it has long battery life (up to 2 – 3 days of medium to heavy use on 1 charge cycle), and it is highly portable, so it is the perfect solution where I have WiFi 90% of the time.

This isn’t a permanent solution, but it is A solution.  One that is helping to at least stay current in my graduate school and creative writing lifestyle.  Without it, I would be losing ground instead of treading water.  So, I say, until I can Macbook Pro it, I’m going to continue to Chromebook it.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

1st Try

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Scrivener Character Sheet.  Image Source: http://thinkingtoinking.blogspot.com/2013/03/writers-resource-character-templates.html

So far, I have only sold one story on the first try: Dragonhawk One of the reasons why I believe that it was so successful is that even though I had the plot for the story in mind when writing the story, I also used (for the only time time since I restarted my writing “career” by buying Storymill and then later Scrivener) the Character Sketch Template Sheets provided by Scrivener.  One of the things that the character sheets forced me to do was to think about my characters from the external and the internal

External

So, on the Character Sheets, there is a place to fill out all of the external characteristics of the character.  What do they look like, what is their background, etc.  All of the things you might ask yourself when filling out a biography for a character.  Sure, it isn’t much, just spaces where you can write a paragraph or so, but I did that for both of the main characters in the story: Kelfryn (the young man who was a Hawkrider, but wanted to be a Dragonrider), and Scryfe (his mind-bonded hawk, who didn’t understand his rider’s obsession with dragons and dragon eggs).  It really didn’t take that long to write out each one–maybe half an hour to one full hour for each one.  However, when it came to describing the characters and knowing the history, my mind was able to weave a narrative around them that made them seem (to the editor who bought the story, and hopefully his readers), well, alive in some undefinable way.  It also made it easier, for me, to come up with a reason why  he was doing what he was doing that seemed both rational and in keeping with the character.

Internal

Perhaps the most important point is the fact that the character sheet provided a place for internal conflicts–i.e., what is the character struggling with internally.  For Kelfryn, he wanted so much to be a Dragonrider of old and to have the status of a Dragonrider.  His great grandfather had been one as had countless generations before that and in the world I created, even though there were no more Dragonriders, there was still an air of mystique about them and a reverence.  Even though he knew it was forbidden in his culture, his desire to bring them back trumped his good sense and he (pardon he pun) “hatched” a plan to steal an egg, thus setting the story in motion.

Concluding Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is the only story which has sold on the first try–and I didn’t even like the story all that much (the kid learns his lesson while I wanted a fun adventure story).  While I may never have another story accepted on the first try, this incident is trying to tell me something: good characters need both internal and external conflicts.  To help me, I printed out several character sheets.  My goal, of course, is to use them for each of my projects to help get at the inner conflicts and to create well-rounded and dynamic characters. I’m starting this with The Independent.  I’m working on the 2nd Draft now and I’m hopeful that a Character Sketch Sheet will help me to create Ryn (the protagonist) into a round and dynamic character.

Perhaps, one day, I can even reach the rarefied heights of getting back to getting a publication on the first try.  It’s something to shoot for anyway.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1)

High Tech vs Low Tech

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Samsung Smart Classroom. Image Source: Samsung (http://www.upgrademag.com/web/2017/09/21/samsung-deped-reach-out-to-schools-in-rural-philippines/)

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

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 21 (+1)
    Goal = 3 Pages a week. 20/20 Pages (for artist). 21/32 pages (for completion of 1st issue)
    Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week.
    Rough Drafted another page for the comic. Don’t really like these rough draft one day, draft the next day way of doing things, but I didn’t have time last weekend to rough draft out 4 or 5 pages, so I’m stuck doing it this way for now. At least, if all goes well tonight, I’ll be able to write another page in the story (fingers crossed). I did add to the “lore” of the story by adding an entry into the “bible” for the world.
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)
    (Researched an article on Whaling, think that I have the two characters–a brother and a sister who are on the opposite sides of the issue.  Still, no Writing so far). Need to find a place to work in revisions–I can draft new material just fine, but I don’t seem to have any time to work on “drafting” revisions.

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.
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 5 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 6 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Wrote out a fairly extensive list of possible research topics to explore from chapter 5. Really intriguing book.
  • 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.

Class Assignments–Graduate Teaching Assistant (Year 3)

Now for something completely different–today I’m going to leave off talking about Tai Chi for a while and move to a different form of education/training: Higher Education. As part of my duties as a PhD student, I’m a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), meaning that I teach up to 2 classes of Freshman Composition each semester. Last semester, I was a GA (Graduate Assistant), meaning that I helped out the English Department by helping a professor do research into various video game articles. Yesterday, we were given our teaching schedules and I have two classes of English 1010 (our version of Freshman Composition) that I’m teaching. I’m ecstatic as I really enjoy teaching writing at the college level. However . . . and you knew there was a however coming, didn’t you . . . however, I just finished “scoping out” my assigned classrooms and they couldn’t be more different.

High Tech vs Low Tech

So, these days, pretty much ALL (or most, at least) college classrooms feature some sort of technology in them. The professor’s podium allows the professor to hook a laptop to it, it has its own computer integrated inside it, should the professor not want to connect via laptop, it has a dvd player, display, and other media/interface ports.  It can pretty much display or illustrate pretty any type of media that the professor can through at it (again, generalizing here). These are termed “smart” classrooms as opposed to those with no technology in them whatsoever (the “traditional”) classroom. I personally would term these as “technology enabled” classrooms myself because only the professor has access to the technology.  However, what students have access to in the classroom is a different story all together. Only some classrooms are truly “smart” classrooms and those have, in addition to the professor’s media hub/display, there are computers around the room that the students can work at as well. To me, this is the true demarcation of a “smart” classroom–when both the students and the professor have access to technology.

 

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While this is called a “Smart” classroom, I consider it a “Technology Enabled” classroom. Image Source: Hostos Community College (http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/Administrative-Offices/Office-of-the-President/Conference-Center/Event-Venues/Classroom-Smart-Classroom)

“Double Dutch” Teaching

Having looked at my classrooms, one is only “technology enabled” classroom (smarthub/display for the professor) and the other is a “smart” classroom (smarthub & computers for students). This is going to be a challenge to teach in successfully. I taught this way Fall 2017 and I tried to create a “technology-rich” curriculum, but while the students in the smart classroom thrived, it was more difficult for the ones in the tech enabled classroom because they had to resort to their phones (only about 1/3 brought laptops to class) and such to view the documents/media online. I often took them to the library (especially on days when papers were due), but it didn’t have the same impact (in my opinion) as them being able to work in the classroom (too spread out, not able to ask me questions effectively).

My Plan

So, in the next two weeks before I lock down my syllabus, I plan to research different ways of teaching. My goal: make my technology enabled class as productive and as enriching as I felt my smart classroom teaching was a year ago. I should mention that my middle school teaching experience included a pilot program where the students where given Chromebooks to use at school (at first) and to take home as part of the education process (later), so I feel that I’m VERY comfortable with technology and integrating it into the curriculum. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, I may be so dependent on tech., that I’ve forgotten how to inspire true learning without it. Regardless, my goal for this year is to make both classes an enriching and rewarding experience for all involved. Fingers crossed and please wish me luck as I try to find the right balance between high and low tech!

Sidney




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

Gamification of Writing

gamify-your-writing_slideshare

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

Making a Game Out of Writing

I should have done this long ago.  Actually, I did do this long ago, but I set my goals to high and couldn’t reach them, so I gave them up.  What am I talking about?  Well, along with the change in the way that I write blogs, see A Peek Behind the Curtain for more information, I’ve also begun writing using the word count feature in Scrivener to help me “visualize” my way to success.  Like I said before, I’ve used it before, but I set my word count at unrealistically high levels (1000 words and 1500 words) and I could rarely hit my goals.  In general, based on what I seem to do in these blogs posts or when I have unlimited amounts of time to devote to a writing session, I seem to average about 600 words.  Generally speaking, it takes me about an hour to write 600 words, so I average (on general) 10 words a minute when creating a new work (I type at about 35-40 words a minute, but when doing creative writing, there’s a lot of time when I’m searching for the right word/right way to describe something).  However, now that I’m working on “filling up” a progress bar, writing doesn’t seem as much of a chore than it has in the past and I look forward to seeing if I can move the bar some more.

The Progress Bar

Scrivener’s Progress Bar feeds my own particular “OCD” meter.  I love seeing things get completed.  I get a satisfaction from seeing something going from empty to full (like a full tank of gas, or vice versa, like a dirty floor, messy floor becoming clean and empty).  A slight digression: this is why I was so great at sorting donated books when I was an employee of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I loved the feeling of wrangling the messy space of the donation area and making it clean and presentable.  The same is true for my writing.  I looked for sites that would give me what Scrivener did, a progress bar that kept track of my writing, but couldn’t find but a handful and they did not work the way I wanted them to, so I’ve gone back to Scrivener and I’ve used the Progress Bar to keep track of my words.  The Progress Bar feature lets you track words, pages, or # of words needed to hit a specific goal.  This latter choice is the way that I have it currently set.  I’m trying to reach 5000 words for Project Independence by July 1st.  Based on where I am in the story, I’m not sure that I’ll be finished, but that’s my goal.  Scrivener tells me that I just need to write 160ish words to hit it.  My bare minimum is that, but I try to go over if I can.  I count it a double success on those days when I go over and hit the 250 word goal as well.  I need to start buying myself a treat and rewarding myself on the days when that happens.

600 Word Writer

Now that I know that 600 hundred words (or an hour of writing) is my own personal sweet spot, I’m going to try to slowly increase my word count over the next years to see if I can get there per day.  Right now, I’m not going to try.  I really want to 1) habitualize my writing and really lock it in as a habit (too often, I let fatigue interfere with the process and 2) get some successes under my belt.  I’ve gone too long without a publication or even a finished project that I feel proud of submitting without reservations.  So, for now, 250 words remains my (attainable) goal.  Like a weight lifter, I need to be completely comfortable with the “weights” (word count) before moving up to the next tier.

Well, that’s it for today and WordPress is telling me that this post is 695 words long.  See, I’m in my comfort zone.  I may have to learn to stretch it, but for now, I need to learn how to make it a habit.  Have a good one!

Sidney




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

Anthem: E3 and Me, 2018 Edition

anthem_engadget

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




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




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“. . . 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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E3 Upcoming

E3-2018_Slashgear.png
E3 2018 Logo (June 12-14 | Los Angeles).  Image Source: Slashgear.com (click for more info)

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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