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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Last Post 2017

Next week’s going to be a new year; a year older, another year.

I’m just here watching the rest of the Jingle Jam. I’ve been a fan of the Yogscast but these charity streams I do find to be the best part of my year. After the year I’ve had, this is likely the best part right up to the end. However it’s been difficult to really watch these archived streams on YouTube. Not much to view but at the same time has given me an opportunity to see new indie games. At least I get to see the old and usual stuff, like a live podcast and some “live” games.

Last night I couldn’t get away from a 6 hour stream from Zoey from the Yogscast playing both The Sims 4 and a discussion on mental health. I was surprised when we began to talk about her struggle with mental health and how I’ve been over the past decade. From a person I don’t know to hear the same words, this oddly familiar connection based on an illness. After hearing from her and then playing this new game I’ve never heard about, it was like watching a simulacra of what I’ve been through for most of my adult life.

After seeing her play through it for almost an hour, I might want to pick up “Please Knock On My Door”. The hardest part was fighting my own thoughts while she and the game narrates the similar dialogue.

There is nothing easy about battling a mental illness without a cure. There is no phrase nor pill can cure it. Just keep holding on…

…even when things look bleak.

I think next year I’ll just keep fighting myself. I have to hope and keep telling myself things will get better. I just have to whether I should believe it or not.

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.

Fallen Plans

As the summer starts, I’m starting to think all the plans I’ve set a couple months are starting to fall through. Right now I’m sort of scrambling with finding something to keep myself occupied with for the next a few months. Unlike last year, I think the internet will benefit from this scrambling.

I was hoping I was going to work for the entire summer. I’ve been in contact with my employer and it seems they don’t know what to do with me or I got it easy (or difficult, depending how you look at it). Now a week into June, I’m making some expensive plans for my YouTube channel and perhaps my new camera. I had everything planned; I was going to end my Life is Strange playthrough and start a summer hiatus, then I would spend the remaining days before I was slated to work to take up a hobby and go to the gym a bit more. At the moment, it seems the hobby and gym might be the largest component in my entire life until I have something to do. I might even seek employment all summer; if there is an employer who will hire me in short notice.

Short term futures right now, I have purchased a new game on Steam. It was on sale called Call To Arms, it appears to be a modern warfare RTS game I might be recording . Along with recording a new game, I’m jumping back into Insurgency and Borderlands 2. For Borderlands 2, I purchased the Collector’s Edition so I have a few DLC packs I can record. Insurgency received an achievement and map update so I’ve decided to record a bunch of compilation of some of these achievements as well as maps I’ve may or may not have played in the past. That should cover a month or so of content online. As for personal content, I will have to really coerce myself to the gym and spend the soon-to-be sunny summer days outside snapping photos and hopefully get into a bit of trouble. I promise I won’t end up in jail or on the evening news, haha!

This is all I have for now for updates and progress. Hopefully I have something to show next week.

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.

Day 16 – Education

30-day-blogging-challenge1
From https://hugaslittlehouse.wordpress.com

I have ranted on about education in the past. It’s been something I’m frustrated with when I’m job searching. A lot of employers I meet have the preference of wanting post-secondary students for menial labour. As I read their position’s duties, they do not require someone with such qualifications. As someone with nothing more than a high school diploma, I would think I would be more qualified than a post-secondary student.

As someone with little to no interest in post-secondary, I would consider myself more of an asset to employers since I would have little to no obligation to work. I can world over time and late nights unlike university students who may work over time but are less hesitant to do so because of classes the following day.

I feel young adults are not lazy or not work, but overworked and underpaid. With all the unpaid internships floating around, it’s the employer’s treasure to find free labour through promises of “work experience”. I’ve actually tried to get into some of these interships and most of the time the employers are asking their interns to flip the cost for certain things. I remember this interview where the employer told me about how I would get into events as a media outlet. Suffice to say, if I wanted to write a piece about a concert I will have to flip the bill myself. All for “work experience”, my advice is to ask lots of questions if they’re wanting to just provide you just “work experience”.

Some of you out there might refute this and tell me your job is fitting for your qualifications. Then you have figured out how to get into it. However living in a large city, you have a lot of folks entering post-secondary and come out with an expensive piece of paper with little to no way to justify the last 4-8 years. People go back in and get more degrees and diplomas while some settle for a trade. Perhaps the schooling is not wrong with education, but how education is applied in certain areas. There are sectors which may require a post-secondary qualification, however in positions like cashier and warehouse associate a diploma would make little sense. I’ve even seen sales associates and representatives requiring a bachelor’s  degree! The way I see it, there are employers out there expecting way too much from the the employee. Most of the time, employers are the one’s lazy. They don’t seem to want to train you on workplace equipment so they want a school to do it for them.

If you have it nice and set, I dare you to try and find a menial job with your big boy degree. You will not feel those 4 years would be worth anything. I don’t even have one and I would feel the exact same thing.

Weekends/Weekdays

This September has been an interesting one. Along with receiving my work schedule and starting a new hobby, time seems against me for the time being. I am unsure where to start or how I would finish this blog post, but I can try to break it down.

After Labour Day, I returned to my part time job. My employer has given me the schedule and it seems most of the time, I’ll be pulling weekends. Not surprising my 2nd job likes to occupy the same timetable as well. I can already know this year I will have scheduling conflicts unless I adapt to having a weekend in the middle of the weekday. Welcome Tuesday through Thursday, you are my new Friday through Sunday! At least it’s an equal trade, so at least during the week, I can edit my gameplay for YouTube and play airsoft at premium. For now, the weekends for me are fairly packed and this weekend may be the last for awhile. Maybe get some time in playing games and spending last week’s pay on a day of airsoft? I think I’m getting more addicted to playing airsoft then video games; hehe.

On the YouTube front, I’ve finally bought a new headset after my old headset finally gave out. The headphones a long time back gave out and nothing came out beside static. The mic however survived to this day until this week. The mic has provided me with thousands of hours of screaming and planning in games and recorded over 450 videos for my channel. When I bought the new headset, I spent an entire day trying to get the mic working. At the start, the drivers worked out well but I had a conflict with the speakers. I still want to keep my speakers while keeping my headset resting on my shoulders. I guess these are the troubles I get for buying a USB headset than a 3.5mm audio headset. So with the USB drivers, I spent a good day trying to determine which input driver is my microphone. Once I found the input, I had to look for it in OBS and test it out. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea to test it while playing a new game. With the spare cash in my Steam account, I bought Party Hard to put her through. At the time of this blog post, I’ve received some criticism on it and I’ve made some tweaks. Beyond OBS, I don’t know what else I can do to enhance the audio in my recording since I can’t split the audio from the video.

I’m halfway through Party Hard and I think I will take recording a bit slower while I dial my settings in. If I don’t I still have my new weekends to work on it. See you guys next time!