Love Is Strange

On the week of Valentine’s Day, I started to play the new prequel to Life Is Strange. I was completely blown away at what they’ve done with the old characters while introducing new characters.

As someone who played the first game, there are a bunch of references. While I know what happens in the first game, I did my best to think about this as the “first” game in the series. I’m not completely done but it is so far really entertaining. There are a lot twists and lots of moments where it’s fun and sad. Life Is Strange played with my heart but Before The Storm really feels like a heartbreaking game.

Chloe and Max are probably the two characters in any video game yet that reflects how I perceive the concept of love. It’s a difficult subject to grasp and no one would every get it right, but we all understand it in out own way. What it means to us and what it matters to be with and without.

The game feels so much shorter than the first but I can’t wait to finish the 3rd episode and wait for the bonus episode.

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It’s Official.

In July, I wrote about finding a place to keep my photos. During that time I registered for a few sites; since then I settled with Google Photos to share with the exclusive few that I knew. Admittedly I never have registered Imgur, I lurk on there like crazy but I have never gotten around to sign up. Anyways, one of those accounts were to 500px; I already have a few regrets with it, I’ll tell you in a bit.

From July 2016, it’s now January 2017. Apparently as a first time account, you get a trial as an “Awesome” member; the second tier of their subscriptions. The trial lasts 14 days which opens up unlimited downloads, an online portfolio and a custom domain along with advance analytic tools from Google. As you can tell, the trial is over; I’m regretting for not uploading earlier since I could use an unlimited now that I have a bunch of photos. As a free user of the site, I’m only limited to 20 photos per week. It’s a big drop from unlimited to just over 2 a day. Of course, I’m not a photophile and upload like crazy. This is definitely going to be a challenging experience since I want to expend my limit but at same time to compose something worth sharing.

I never knew I had a skill set like this when I applied everything I’ve learned from my current and previous jobs. When a co-worker came up to me and said “Hey man, have you ever tried to make some money off your photos?” It was the first time I ever though I actually had something marketable; I could make money out of this, not a lot but just a bit while expressing myself in some means. I use to do poetry and played an instrument, only one of those I do on rare occasions. I can’t do much with my hands but with my eyes and my mind, I can create something I never knew I could. I think that’s how it starts, a profound encouragement. Not necessarily constant encouragement but someone who found your skill to be something worth sharing.

So here I am, on 500px. The selfie might be old but I’m slowly going to try my best to stay capped out on photos. I have a lot of uploading to do now; first my gaming videos to YouTube, 3 websites of photos plus high resolution for 500px. My life is going to culminate to being the first sentient digital lifeform on this planet.

In time, I’ll update my social media stuff to include 500px. Until then, I’ll keep my eyes open.

New Game – Prison Architect

This week, I’m going to get back into recording gameplay for my YouTube Channel. It has been a very long time since I recorded anything, I figured out why. Stardew Valley was the last game I played on the channel and as I watched, it was getting fairly monotonous. I’m going to break away from Stardew Valley for awhile and focus on a new game. “New” does not mean recent; in this case, I’m taking a game I’ve had in my library that I haven’t played and I bought many moons ago in a Steam sale far far away.

Awhile ago I had bought myself a few games; Stranded Deep, Call To Arms, and Prison Architect. As per the title of this blog post, I’m going to start working on these sandbox games since I’ve had them in my library for the longest time. I’ve already recorded and edited a few episodes and it feels much more fun than the last few episodes of Stardew Valley I’ve put together. Reason behind going with Prison Architect was because the developer recently announced they were done with this game and any upcoming patches would just address major bugs. That was probably a couple months ago, which by now should be fairly stable and playable.

I think after I get a good chunk of Prison Architect completed, I’ll start on the next one and then maybe consider revisiting Stardew Valley. For the time being I think I’ll stop and enjoy what I have accomplished. Much like I did with Defiance, the MMORPG, I’m going to leave this one as is until I feel I can play it in it’s entirety.

Gaming Achievements

Don’t know about you guys out there, but I feel a bit off every time Steam tells me I’ve  completed an achievement. I always open up the in-game overlay to see what I did to deserve a pop-up like that. Usually achievements fall under after completing part of a the game or the whole, then there are achievements which are very mundane. Some games are sensible with the achievements but there are are some that can be sinning against the purpose of achievements.

To me, a sensible achievements is story completions. It makes sense especially if you created a game that’s hours long. Another sensible one is when you collect an amount of objects. Makes sense to put a good achievement on a tedious task. If the game has some complex stuff in it, it’s even cooler if there is an achievement for it like saving someone from explosion damage or being able to react to a certain way. However there are a few achievements I don’t want to see even though I might have achieved these on my own account and accord.

I like a good achievements for a repetitive task. However a repetitive achievement for a repetitive task is overboard. As much as I can kill 100 bots, I don’t want to kill a million bots for an achievement. At that point, you’re just playing to kill and not necessarily enjoying the killing bots. This goes the same with FPS games which does the same thing but with a different weapon. I’ve played games which want the player to kill  a thousand with one weapon and a thousand with another. It’s a nice way to push players to try these guns and grenades, but there is no point aside from forcing players to play with weapons the developer is lazy to balance or the player does not which to play with for the duration.

Mystery achievements, as much as they are surprising they sometimes don’t provide any contextual information for their completions. Whether in the icon or description, they can be fairly vague. Most games I’ve encountered have been mysterious but able to convey a point where they want us to do. For most of the time, some of you developers have to give the player some sort of clue.

Then there are games I’m not even sure they’re really games anymore with over a hundred achievements. I have a game in my library which has over 500 achievements. Most of the are hidden since Steam has the courtesy to hide the massive list. I don’t think I have the patience for 500 achievements! Early on I had Team Fortress 2 as the only game with achievements. Looking at it now, it has a lot of achievements that look intense. I did achieve the “Pyromancer” achievements but it was an undertaking. To spent years on a game to complete the list of achievements is as agonizing as spending years in an institution. Which gets me into downloadable content achievements!

This generation of gamers seem to support DLC to games. Nothing wrong with that since some of them are like expansion packs of the past. Most of them would hardly count as an expansion pack, but I digress. I don’t like achievements related to DLC’s, especially on Steam since the service clumps all the game’s achievements. Which means you can’t “perfect” a game on Steam without buying their DLC content. Which sort of supports the argument of games are incomplete until all the DLC’s are released which sounds a cash grab.

Achievements should be an enhancement and not the objective for enjoying the game. I honestly hope more games can do less in achievements.

Need Input: Photo Sharing?

As of you guys might know, I decided to get into photography. After a good month getting use to snapping photos, I have a lot of photos which have edited and uploaded. The problem with photo sharing is I am adept at where in the cloud I should put my photos. I do have a Google account as well as a private Facebook, no where I really want to showcase my work. Even with either of those, I feel like I’m working with a hard file size limit since my Canon spits out 2-5 MB JPEG files and it does take a lot of downsizing to get it to upload.

So consider this post a bit of reaching out for suggestions of where I can upload my stuff. I would like somewhere I can public post stuff and able to have the community comment. Much like WordPress or YouTube, but for photos. A few preference I would like would be to have a service which doesn’t restrict much on file size and account capacity such as a maximum amount of storage or a weekly upload capacity as a free user. I want no pop-up and a website which looks to focus on the content than to the ads to support the site. Might be a tall order for the latter but I would like to hope for something worth using out there.

I do like my friends commenting on my photos but I would like a more unbiased reviewer. Who’s more unbiased than the unforgiving place that is the Internet?

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!