nawkcire

Games, Tech and Blogging…I can't guarantee in that order.

Life is…Strange. Ohhhhhhhh!

I thought it would merit a blog post in itself since I’ve played the entire episodic narrative, Life is Strange. After a long 6 months since I bought episodes 1-5 on Steam, recently I finally put aside some time from work to play. All this time avoiding spoilers I can put in a review down without ruining any plot lines and there are a bunch of plot lines.

Developed by DONTNOD and published by Square Enix, you play as Maxine Caulfield who has travelled to Oregon to attend Blackwell Academy in hopes of being a photographer. Within the first month of settling in, you have premonitions of a tornado. You have 5 days to prevent it happening. Along the way of trying to save the seaside town of Arcadia Bay, you make friends both old and new.

You play in the third person in a narrative where each episode is a day until the end. As you play choices from the previous episodes can effect the story and how it will culminate. The art for the game does exude something resembling of water colours which exemplifies focus on the story while delivering a detailed (but not too detailed) atmosphere. The entire game is littered with story devices which opens the player to character development outside of Max’s journal. If you are an empathic gamer, you will find yourself thinking about these little bits of information as you interact with other characters and help make decisions throughout the game. The voice acting in itself is very professional and does feel very natural and fluid with each choice. The character animation is nothing impressive, there are parts where characters would just talk and wouldn’t necessarily interact with each other. Felt more like talking heads on the news than a theatrical performance. Definitely something work improving is the motion capture to let these characters interact with the space around than standing there and have it be consistent. Max’s time travelling provides a good plot device to allow the player to change their answer if they think their choice is undesirable considering most choices aren’t described fully. Usually the game will give your an explicit choice of actions or a vague noun like “Nathan” or “Joyce” and hope that choice is what you are thinking it would be what is summed in a few words. It makes a logical choice to have the choices concise but a bit more description would be helpful. Then again the time travelling ability really solves all that.

Thematically, the game is about choices. Choices everywhere and if you aren’t tainted by spoilers, these choices are interesting because they carry weight through the game and changes up what you can say and do. The developers seemed to explore the idea of choice in terms of a social sense with moral implications. Choices which challenge vices and virtues, needs and wants, truth and the perception of truth; the does give some good examples of philosophical dilemmas which defines our humanity. Who said video games can’t teach your anything?

If you haven’t decided to get Life is Strange yet and you want to play it, I would recommend getting all the episodes in one package. For the value of a movie ticket and popcorn (like 25 dollars-ish),  you get about 22 hours of content (That’s on my count, experience may vary). As much as the first episode is thorough in giving you a preview of things to come, the main attraction is a story which a game can only deliver. There are some faults in quality such as some bugs and some dialogue which fell flat because of the animation. It’s a good play with achievements which can be completed (for you perfectionists out there). In the end after I made all the choices and comparing similarities with my personal life, the title is indeed exclaims a truth. Life is strange, so very strange.

I Bought A Camera

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about buying a new camera. After looking over at both my computer and my wallet, I freaking did it!

It’s a logical buy considering I want to stretch out my creative side. In high school, I had a few avenues to express it. I took creative writing, strings (I joined the junior orchestra, too), and I even tried a digital media course while I was young. Now I don’t feel like that person but I itch to do something creative. I want to write poetry and take photos, maybe play an instrument in the future if I could ever multi-task singing and strumming. Just something recently has really encouraged me to go after new hobbies. Ever since my workplace gave me camera to work with, not because I am playing Life Is Strange in it’s entirety on my YouTube channel. Though I think ever since I got my camera, Life is Strange definitely became a catalyst to really observe the world to find those opportunities.

Some of you have been reading patiently, asking “Which camera did you get?” I did a bit of research and to not break the bank, I went for the cheapest and what was on sale. I traded in the next 5- 6 months of my new gaming PC for a Canon EOS Rebel T5 kit which included a lens (“EF-S 18-55 IS II”, just reading it off the box. If anyone knows what that means, leave a comment for internet points). I’ve spent the past weekend taking it out to the park and around my neighbourhood to take a few shots and started to play around with some manual settings. As much as I would like to use the automatic settings, it’s not the true purpose I got a DSLR. I want to learn to really get technical with taking pictures, I want to control everything that comes with taking the right picture. It’s a big step from point and click cameras like my phone, but I am willing to jump. In a couple days, I’ve gotten use to taking pictures but I want to control more than light sensitivity, aperture and focus. I want to full control, I’ve been slowly working up to using my Rebel on just manual. In my room, I’ve been tinkering with settings on manual. Just have to test it out there where I can take a photo in different lighting and distances.

The take away from this weekend, I can do good. Just need some time and hopefully I can blossom into the late blooming adult I’ve always wanted to be, haha! Before I go, here’s the first shot I took.

1st_Pic.JPG

See you guys next time!

 

Specifics

I recently had the privilege of going out with a bunch of coworkers. It’s something I do quite often to know the people I work with on a weekly basis. However recently one of them posed a question to me about what I want in life; starting from the woman I would  like in my life down to where I want to be. I realized I something about my life I have so forgotten; I could never describe everything to this person next to me on the steps about what I want, how could I ever find someone if I don’t what I am looking for in terms of looks and personality.

My entire existence up to now has been just a happenstance and good faith. I grew up understanding my own personal needs are irrelevant and even if I wanted something, I would get somewhere close to my intended result. The earliest was my first console, as much as the Super Nintendo was an amazing system, I wanted an N64.

They finally convinced me I should really start to put an effort in finding something to keep me grounded. I don’t necessarily have a steady job but I really want to find someone out there to share a life with even though I and we haven’t figured something out yet. The problem is who exactly I want to be with in that relationship.

Not only who I want to date, but where I want to live and work in the future. I don’t have all the answers but I should really seek them. Then maybe finally I will get what I want.

I Should Buy A Camera

Strange urge happened to me earlier this week. While I was at work, my supervisor wanted to snap some photos. Since I didn’t have much to do, I volunteered to complete the task. They handed off a DSLR camera to me and off I went, taking pictures of everything.

I didn’t know how much time elapsed until I was done. As I reviewed all the pictures I have taken, I felt pretty happy that I took pictures. Though most of them were trashed fore being too blurry, the ones I needed came out pretty nice. It’s been a few days now, I can’t help feeling I should do something to witness stuff happening around me. I wish I had a better camera to capture. Why not make that wish come true?

The financial situation isn’t that good at the moment considering I began to slowly buy parts for my next computer. From what I have projected, I might be losing about 700 on this project. Paying a visit to the local camera stores around me, I found out a few things about this hobby I’m picking up. It’s definitely going to set me back regardless if I buy used or new. Seems like all the fun stuff is behind real pay walls; airsoft, my new gaming rig, now a DSLR.

If I learned anything from this, I’m going to have to put this one on hold until October unless I somehow pull a new camera out of my butt. For now, I’m sticking to building this PC.

Another Bad Day

This week has been something. My employer needed a few guys to commit to a few days of work, I was happily volunteered. However as much I enjoy working, there are people I with which I don’t want to near. I think every able body person who has or is employed experienced “that one coworker”. I really have no where to vent my frustration so right now at 5 in the morning on my garbage pail of a blog is as super as it gets.

For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him Hank (“Hank…..Grill”, come on it’s a good reference). So this guy has two part time jobs I know of, this and something else unimportant to my frustration. The fact most of the time I’ve seen him show up to these things, he’s either late or not dressed for work. Usually normal people come to work early to change or come to work dressed appropriately, right? I usually do either, come an hour early to dress or dress at home and go to work. That’s a minor thing, Hank has more up his sleeve. Not only he dresses at work right when we’re starting work, he dresses right in the middle of the hallway with his stuff crammed into a bag. I don’t know about you, but my workplace does have rules about where and when you take off your clothes. As much as this hallway is usually unused, it’s still visible and could be misconstrued as sexual harassment if you have your pants down. I turn the corner and all I see is Hank changing, accidental and also the fact I had to enter a door right where he was changing. After he changed, he told me he could report me for sexual harassment. It’s only 20 minutes into my workday, I’m already threatened and harassed by this tardy creature.

By lunch, I’ve managed to complete my work in relative seclusion. Tip my hat for my ADHD for keeping me in line to finish everything and starting the afternoon’s workload. The afternoon that day was perhaps the greatest test of my patience and a field test of situational and anger management skills. Now Hank in the middle of the day is looking over my shoulder telling me what to do. “Hey man, can you work faster?”, “I think you should do it like this.”, “Here let me do this.” Now I’ll go on why I don’t like him saying that last phrase. To put things into perspective, let’s have the standard model of a corporate or company ladder. New guys on the bottom rung, then the manager, execs, and CEO’s up top. This guy and I are on the same rung, meaning he can’t tell me what to do as a fellow coworker. He can advise me but he was insistent and invasive, a few times getting close to my personal space. And Hank’s work ethic is fairly satisfactory, he just gets his work done. Quality and person who completes it varies. I’m not saying Hank is lazy, just if he shut his pie hole and focused on the task at hand then perhaps I don’t have to cover his work. Which comes to “here let me do this”, there have been occasions where I had to let him do things. Whether it’s in front of my manager or I thought he had insight when I first met him, in reality the blunt end came down on my end if the work was my responsibility. Therefore I don’t trust Hank or anyone else to pull my weight, if I don’t complete it then it’s my responsibility.

Two days of this! Two days! Day one I came home and shut myself out from the world. Second day when I showed up, I was emotionally numb inside. Hank’s got an ego and a narcissistic personality and he power trips and manipulate anyway he can to abdicate his workload onto others. This post itself is me putting it lightly because I want to tell you, my loyal readers, this message:

As I kid, I never wanted to work. Now I found a job I enjoy, I wouldn’t want it anymore from my employment (maybe money, but money isn’t much of an issue right now). I think with my experience working with Hank, I feel it completes what I think people caught in bad employment feel. I understand why you hate those days and you hate being there, you can’t escape the pain and it’s almost torture. You do it any ways because you have to, there is no choice since money is what you need for everything else. I understand you have things you have to achieve and these are the risks to your reward. I get you and I don’t pity you. I like my job but I can’t say the same to you, I respect you because you live in your nightmare of your doing. I say, fight on regardless how tired and scarred you are; you can get through this even if it means one more day, one more task. I’m proud of you, gentle being. I know you have a Hank at your workplace and perhaps more but you can make this job work. Good luck to you!

The Bad Days, The Best Days

We have had a few rough days at our lives, those who deny it are lying to themselves. Day to day, our actions are the sum of the experiences. I wish I could say we should all have happy and care-free lives, however after recent events in my life I’m starting to think we should have just a few bad days.

Recently while I was packing for a long work weekend, the weather was fluctuating between a damp spring morning and a cold frosty winter. April as ambiguous the weather was, I packed for a mildly warm and damp spring. When I arrived to my work site, I noticed snow was an inch thick and felt like the middle of January back home. Even though I was not prepared to bear the wind chill, I did enjoy my weekend. Admittedly, I did to learn I should pack for any and every temperature change. As hard and difficult my life was for a few brief days, it was a learning experience.

I think it’s just the learning experience; learn to fail. In it’s bad day, there is something to earn from it turning it into a good day. There are days where days are just terrible which never get better; most of the time, it’s going to be a good day regardless.

Airsoft – On Ethics And Values

Here I am again, reading and watching news footage of kids and teen getting in trouble with airsoft replicas and anti-gun folks up in arms about criminalizing guns and everything guns. Around the same time, I finally returned to play a day of airsoft and realizing the game sits between its values. I witnessed this first hand. Some people  I might put as those players who take it up as a game and some groups of people take it as a hobby; however there is some consensus on the rules of the game.

Honesty is a heavy value in airsoft. In games I’ve played, there have been instances where players don’t call their hits. As much as the players endorse people to call your hits when shot, I’ve seen some people who don’t receive this message properly. My local arena always says during their safety briefing, “Airsoft is a game of honour. Call your hits.” Which brings me to my next point, integrity.

Integrity is self reflection after the situation and able to act the same wherever they go. Meaning you are the same person with the same view at work as you would be at home. Airsofters I’ve played with have a range of integrity, which is interesting. Some people like to talk honestly and play like a foul player while some do play an honest game. When calling hits, whether you raise your hand up or not, you did indeed were shot. You are admitting a fault, you were shot! If you take hundreds of BB’s to the face and complain about another player not calling hits, you might want to check your values. Airsoft is still a game, you can always respawn and try again.

Along with receiving, sending someone BB’s is much more a demonstration of personal values in terms of respect, responsibility and fairness. Respect to the respect and obedience to field rules, I admit I may have a few times came to breaking rules. At my local field, they have a strict no vaulting rule. Vaulting meaning jumping up, over and through obstacles. I may have in my own 6 month stint have jumped over a few low windows. Respect can also be seen from player to player in terms of being fair to other players the opportunity to show mercy. The field I got to don’t have range rules, in theory you can shoot someone point blank. However I’ve seen a varying degree in restraints. As many players have shot me point blank, there have been players who asked to surrender or just swapped to melee. Respect for personal equipment; leave it where it lays or return it to the front desk. Which leads into responsibility for yourself and fellow players. Helping other ensure all equipment is still on them and helping the game marshal recover lost equipment. I poorly displayed my values of responsibility for losing a pistol magazine which I have to now replace. As well as breaking a feed lip from my spare magazine, I am not a prime example of responsibility; however I do admit my faults as a player, that’s self respect and integrity. Lastly most players I’ve seen is fairness when it comes with over shooting. Most players I’ve seen have restraint and good trigger discipline to not shoot a downed player walking away to respawn. It’s a value heavily for me since I’m usually the one being shot first.

The local field does have one value they highly enforce, safety. Personal safety on the field since plastic BB’s fly at 380 feet per second. They endorse full seal eye protection at the minimum, but full face protection is recommended. Last weekend, I was humble to my mesh mask since the games got into a team on team with 40 players on each side. I did get shot in the face a good dozen times, my face would look like pepperoni pizza without the face mask. Then their “no duff” calls, used when safety has been violated where the game must stop to assess the situation. As recommended if the googles fog up, get off the field and deal with it in the safe zone and if it’s serious, call a “no duff” to let everyone know some happened. Recently with news of someone getting shot in the eye with a replica gun, they were cracking down on safety much harder with checking fire selectors, barrel covers and heavily enforcing their “no dry fire” rules within the safe zone.

Airsoft as a game does have a lot to teach in values in ethics for those who choose to learn them. Airsoft as a political stance robs a generation of risk and pushing them closer to playing indoors, not learning anything but to play the game in front of them.

 

 

Time

“I’ll do it later”, this phase much like myself have said and thought many times. Many times before, I have this and little have been accomplished and little was ever explored. Recently I found myself thinking about time; in it’s power and fleeting, I could only cherish what I have left for it.

The last couple weeks I’ve been hard at work, task after completed task.  Always moving and doing, something I don’t mind when I’m not sore or tired. However this week was a very big push with much to do with very little hands to complete them. After a long day, a co-worker I rarely seen or spoke to asked if I wanted to join him for the evening to meet some people. By this time, I wanted to do nothing more to sleep or say “Maybe another time.” Insistent as he is, I agreed to go; I later found out, it was a dance class.

Not much of a dancer, I played with the notion of learning. For my first class, I did fairly well though if I did keep trying, I would be excel. As the instructor went through each routine in the corner of my eye, I saw this one girl. There were a lot of women in this class as well as men, I wasn’t too sure why she drew my attention. As the class winds down, I knew two things. First, I’m a terrible dancer. Secondly, I had to speak to her. Just an impulse I wanted to walk up and introduce myself. As awkward as I tried to not be with my introduction, I think I did a good job breaking the ice. We spend about an hour talking about her education and my work. We exchanged Facebook contacts.

Now two days after first contact, I come to realize later will always come but time is always running out. Of all the potential women I could’ve of asked out, I’ve chucked it to the the phrase “maybe later”. I spent my days saying rather than doing. Dreaming rather than working. As awkward this Easter can be, I really want to innovate myself. Perhaps this is the later I’ve been waiting for and now I can start living.

Product/Service?

As gamer, I have seen this interesting trend with a lot of publishers recently. Recently being a relative term because I’ve seen it in MMORPG’s and now in AAA publishers. Since I was about 14 years old, I’ve been going in and out of MMORPG’s. Most of these games usually have a client service, either a client maintained by the developer or a client server provided by a publisher. As I’ve seen recently this is spilling into games that do not necessarily be massively multiplayer.

To name a few services out there are some that have years of service with players; services such as Battle.net, Steam, and the defunct Gamespy. In the early 2010’s, we’ve seen new services setting up with EA and Ubisoft, Origin and Uplay respectively. Three months into 2016, I’m now seeing the master plan for this client service with Origin and Uplay; if not, services like them. As a long time user of Steam, there are are their differences with this client service.

The way I see it, Steam is a platform for publishers to reach out to a potential demographic for their game. With their features like Greenlight to support independent publishers, their early access and free to play listings have grown immensely. Compared to Origin and Uplay as of the moment contains the games their developers have created. There is no cross pollination; no games beside EA games on Origin, no games beside Ubisoft games on Uplay. Their properties are highly popular on the mainstream with Battlefield and Assassin’s Creed to name a couple, there is no incentive use of the service. While Steam has the opportunity to explore and group players together as a social network and if this is true, then likely the last remnant of a 90’s social network!

What is more interesting now is triple-A publishers are experimenting with client services. Specifically using the service as a DRM gate, the “always online” trend. As much as I’m all about fairness for online games especially in multiplayer games; in singleplayer games like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed, you spend most of the time by yourself with no interaction from the online system. The only exception is just for small systems like achievements, rewards and (I would guess) DRM. Fairness for achievements and integrity to keep players to play a genuine copy of the game are honest motives for having games always online, however I am concerned for the offline brother and sisters who play games on dodgy connections. Where does it get to the point where being always online does hinder and alienate the target audience?

More interestingly as I ponder the future for these amazing titles as they embrace having multiplayer features, when does the product become a service? Publisher-only clients really gain an income from having microtransactions, the in-game items or rentals. The only problem I see is most of these titles are leaning towards a heavy price on a game and microtransactions post-purchase. The problem I see is the mainstream demographic and titles usually push for better sequels which usually includes and iteration of a more integrated client. I wouldn’t know for sure but as more and more games to seem to be priced at premium while churning out gimmicks like pre-order content and DLC. Especially with recent games, games seem to have fallen into the “Day 1 patch” curse where broken games are being updated upon release. It really begs the question if that 60 dollars is worth the the extra money and the fact you have to stay online with a chance of paying DLC to keep up with everyone else.

Staring At Walls

Recently I was invited to a gathering, no more than 100. The atmosphere felt like a drunken wedding reception and frat party. Open bar, I had a few in me (if not 5). In my own stupor staring off at the mirrored walls of a ballroom, I saw everyone had brought someone here to this jovial dinner.

Mingling with everyone half drunken, I found out most of their company were girlfriends. Only a handful and myself came as a lone wolf. Laughing and gawking, everyone had someone to talk to and there I was lending a voice and and ear to anyone who seemed to be alone for the occasion.

I spent the entire evening until the early dawn listening to other people’s relationships, envious I didn’t have someone there. Rather than dancing and joking around, I became the boy who stared at the walls. Stoic but awkward, drunk but clear headed.

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