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.

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ReUnion.

December now, work is slowly closing up shop and I’m planning for a long sleep through January. Most of the years past I’ve kind of shut down and closed off myself to the world during the Christmas season. This year I’m going to try a bit harder and commit to the things that have kept me here.

This week I had the opportunity to watch one of the few YouTube Gaming channels I’ve subscribed to, the last time I’ve saw the Gaming Lawyer play was during the early days of his XCOM 2 playthrough. Like last week, I’ve been kind of hoping around streams and watched people play video games, not much of a stretch to see someone I subscribed to play within a small community. Recently I’ve found him playing the remastered edition of Skyrim. It’s truly been a long time, much like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. I remembered why I like streamers; not all, but the few of them out there.

The internet coming into this age has bear a lot of fruit. The one I’m fortunate to have is this media to share an experience almost realtime. As much as people want to be within the game, I sometimes want to be along for the ride. I remember when I use to play video games with my sibling, I would like to sometimes watch rather play. Something about watching turns it into a social activity; to talk strategy, to compete right next to your opponent. As much as those days are past, the old ways still apply. We still talk while we play games, we still get fed up at a difficulty situation, we still have someone sitting there watching us play.

I guess after a decade of playing video games, I forgot what it means to be a gamer. After tonight, I realize I should keep in touch.

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.

Editing Photos

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I’m getting pretty good with my camera. I’ve managed to take some good photos of scenes and portraits recently. Summer’s almost over and I think I’ve shot over 1000 and uploaded only under 50. I personally learned a few things just by shooting. More importantly I learned to shoot the same scene about three times using different settings. I usually find a better shot through the three photos; better in a way of how it looks and the colours I’ve captured.

Ever since I got my computer (almost a decade ago now), I downloaded a nifty image editor called paint.net to replace Microsoft Paint. Out of the box, the program is an improvement on MS Paint and feels has more control familiar to Photoshop. Recently I’ve jumped into the forums to find plugins for the open-source application, trying to find stuff I can use for editing photos. The community did deliver, I managed to find a package of plugins which focused on photography. After installing the files, I’ve been experimenting with a few of the effects. On some photos I used more effects than some I tweaked the white balance and the histogram.

While tweaking and playing around with the photos, I’ve noticed a few things about my photos. The problem I have is I can’t take pictures of the sky without having shaded objects look dark and vice versa. So for me to take pictures of sunsets, the foreground would appear dark while I get white out if I focus on a subject that is darker than the sky. Even with this, I’ve managed to snap a few photos. In the future I might try and take pictures using Canon’s .cr2 format which is a RAW format. Hopefully my system with an upgraded GPU can handle it.

Oh yeah, I bought a 950 GTX. But that’s a post for another time.

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Re: Your First (Videogame) Love

Response to aander14’s blog post here.

For me, I had bunch of small moments that fell in the right place. For me when I started playing video game, I wasn’t much of an enthusiast. My parents were fairly strict and (Dare I say) somewhat backwards when it comes to new technology. Here’s the list of firsts that got me into playing video games.

The first time I ever met the digital world was probably in school when I was a kid. That’s when schools started to teach kids about graphic design and how to draw stuff on computers. The first computer I remember using was a Macintosh, I’m talking the years before the iMac went on the market and every school in my district pretty much had something from the late 80’s. Most distinctive piece of software was the paint program for it where you use dynamite to “blow up” your creations. Later as each classroom got it’s own computer, the district went forward with getting PC’s. Before the Apple computers were phased out of the computer lab, I remember playing Battle Chess or a variant of it. Until my parents finally got an SNES, this so happens to be the first exposure to video games in my entire life.

Then I got the SNES, or Super Nintendo for those who are a tad young and asking “what’s a SNES?” Remember how my parents were so strict on me playing video games? They were probably the epitome of tiger parents before the term even came around as “tiger parenting”. So essentially when they got me the SNES, they thought I was too young to have it and too young to do anything besides go to school and get good grades. My sibling on the other hand turned the argument around and got us the SNES. First game we got was Super Mario All Stars and at the time even with my parents putting money to this game console, the would hardly let us play it until we were done our homework or we had nothing else to do. After awhile, our library to include Super Mario World and Gladius II which was given to use by relatives. Later on in grade school, I met other people who owned the Playstation and the N64. At the time, the PS had GTA but I never touched it until a buddy of mine at the time got it and told me to try it. I mostly stayed on their N64 and my SNES. First exposure with platformers aside, I got into cinematic cutscenes and gun play of Perfect Dark. I got deep into the singleplayer and enjoyed the split screen, big head cheat fun of of PD.

The same buddy that got Perfect Dark got Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and they let me play it. That was when everything just click. I liked sandbox, violence and open world games. Even to this day, these are the tenets of video games I like especially when it’s not overly exaggerated and just allows some escape from reality. As I got older, my parents seemed to relax a little and got me the Game Boy Advance and some games for it. For the most part, I stuck to Mario Kart for the GBA and Pokemon Red. By this time I was coming up to my teen years and I was fairly entertained through cartoon violence. So Mario and friends later got boring to me, lacking the things I want in games. I laid fairly dormant with my GBA until I was around 13 when I finally got my first PC.

Growing up in lower middle class, my parents couldn’t afford what I wanted in a PC so I got something a bit low brow. More attuned to a workstation than a gaming rig, I got this 512 MB with 40 GB computer running the last Intel Pentium ever created. This was my gateway to the world. To top it off my parents let the world wide web into the house with DSL and that’s when everything starting to ramp up for myself when I played the many games I soon to find to be everywhere. Firs it started with browser games that are precursors to Facebook games. Then I got a collection of pirated games from my sibling when they moved away for university; but mostly I remember Mechwarrior 3. By this time, my life starting to go downhill. In my child-like mind, the world didn’t seem as beautiful and carefree. As I entered high school, I already accumulated a lot of time into my first MMO, Kal Online which was a Korean MMO taken place in Korean lore. I got as far as I could in the game but in the end at level 25-ish, I gave up after feeling the grind of the game. Of course I moved on; Silkroad Online, WarRock, and Cabal comes to mind. Perhaps there a dozens I’ve played and forgotten. After my first PC finally gave, I got a new PC and continued playing. First on the roster if memory serves was NavyField which was a Korean MMO naval arena. Of course the game has been updated many times over the years; when I remembered it, the game only had 4 nations (US, GB, Germany and Japan). This second PC lasted me a good while and I even tried to go off gaming to pursue increasing my grades. With all my efforts and looking back on it, it was indeed a futile effort and regardless of any scientific study; it didn’t change my grades, I was still the below average student since grade school. Fondest memory was the closest time I went into Major League Gaming; yes that’s right, I was close to MLG material at the ripe age of 15/16. At the time, I was playing America’s Army with a clan I was in trying to get a team together into MLG. In short, the power went out and I lost my shot at a small pot of cash at a small growing gaming tournament league. I believe the cash prize was about $14-18 grand USD per person. In it’s finality of it continuing to this day, my parents view of video games is damning. Video games is a form of entertainment and not a business you can get into, so they say. Yet I could’ve been the coolest kid in high school since I won $14 000.

By now, it was about 8 years ago where I finally found a job and made some money to get myself a custom gaming PC. This is where everything went to hell in a hand basket and yet opened me to the world of video games on an addictive level. When I got my current rig, I went to town on my bank account and bought games. I spent it as wisely as I could starting with putting it into games I can play on Steam. I bought the Orange Box which as Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2 series and Portal for a cheap price. I went back to my roots somewhat and got GTA IV, I even stuck around cyberspace to explore the free games it has to offer. Before my 8800 GT GPU died and my hard drive in need a refurbishment, I think I played about the same amount of games I had played in the past over a span of 4-5 years. Which brings us to the last 3 years and now.

Now, I’m stuck to sharing games with others. I like aspects of co-op games and sandboxes. I’m stuck to my old ways where I play games I like. If my play time in Star Trek Online isn’t proof of my past, I don’t know what would prove where I was in the past 3 years. Moving forward, I want to break away from my parents opinions on video games. I want to making a small inkling in playing video games. If I can’t, at least I want to do is share my love for video games to the world at large.

Have and Have Nots–Internet as a Utility

In a recent article by CNET, The United States of America is considering the internet into an public utility. As the free and openness as it sounds; the past history of the country when it comes to freedoms and the control of freedoms and rights, it makes me wary about the future of the internet from it’s humble origins to a controlled space.

The appeal of the internet in its infancy was the idea of sharing information from anywhere in the world. One person from Britain can talk to someone in Japan, an observatory in Hawaii can compare results with another observatory in Switzerland; a mother sending a video of her child’s first steps to he husband. The internet, much like the telephone, is a communication tool. In it’s essence, voice and digital information is just data; how you interpret the information and if you understand, it is data. Under this argument then yes, the internet should be a utility because it connects our society together; much like power, water, sewage and telephones.

What worries me since this news is coming from the United States is the past attempts to spy upon it’s own citizens and other countries in “the interest of national security”. Every country has it’s own right to be suspicious of itself and others. However in my opinion, there are certain things the government shouldn’t be mandated to monitor. I’m mostly referring to information that was not necessarily consented to the government. Of course, they can place the end user license agreement to include all information you send can be scrutinized. In the best interests, it does sound like an opportunity for all to have access to the internet but at the same time it worries me with regulations, it would dilute the economy of the internet into a corporate melting pot; much like TV networks. The hardest would be keeping the internet open and equal to all without hindering or disrupting service. The past year and decade has proven there are forces at work trying to push back the internet to something more controlled and centralized. It starts with the minorities like pornographic sites.

This is something I hope in the new year, people will continue the fight for an open and free internet. Indeed the internet would benefit as a public utility in many ways in many countries; at the same time, the governments which choose this should not regulate and it’s not the responsibility of the internet or the companies that provide the service.

Re: #472 Where are you Steam Sales?

A response to #472 Where are you Steam Sales?.

I’ve been on Steam for almost a decade (According to my badge, 8 years) and I’ve seen Steam change it’s marketing and this year I think they’re trying to wean their users towards what they want their platform to become.

At first when I started Steam, it was mainly AAA titles getting the holiday sales page. It was tough back then to look online for games other than what’s popular and hyped. With the advent of Greenlight, there has been bunch of submissions and approved games listed on the market. This is where the problem lies with the users and the consumers on Steam.

The indies don’t necessarily have a marketing team running round the clock to advertise their game since they want to produce the product than enhance their own image. Usually these small studios are running on a timeline and a budget unlike larger studios who can afford a bit of time wasted. This race to publish has granted us something unique in the industry at the moment, early access.

In my personal opinion, some of the developers seem smart on when to go fully public on their early releases while some have been just pushing hard to get the funding they wanted. While others are focused too into their product and they create a great product but not enough to generate awareness of it. So most games I found have either don’t reach expectation of the game while some just go under for not being well funded. This is what’s great about Steam. Steam can act as the marketing platform to sell the game on behalf the developers. And I think Steam sees this and it’s why a lot of early access titles are on sale for the holidays. It generates awareness for these games at an appropriate price while giving players the opportunity to be the kid in a candy store to buy a lot of games for a small cost.

Perhaps the lackluster feeling you are receiving is being you are not sure about these games and it feels you are not getting the sales you were expecting. I too felt the same way and it is indeed very difficult to buy a game when most of the catalogue is on sale. To that, I say we take the lessons we learned from Watch_Dogs; we take a risk regardless how much we spend and how popular the game, but it is indeed our risk to take.

Thanks for the article!