Belated updates, whoo

It’s been ages, I know, but I have a good excuse this time.

In addition to being an overworked and underpaid Walmart Associate, I am now a reporter! The Pointe Coupee Banner thinks my writing is good enough to write articles for them, and I’ve been doing it for the past nine or ten months.

Let me tell you, though, writing nonfiction articles is a much different beast from writing fiction. With fiction, if I don’t know the exact circumstances behind something, I can fudge the details under the guise of creative license.

With a newspaper, and especially the official journal of the parish, the details matter. If you’re not sure of the truth, it can’t be printed, it’s that simple. The attention to detail – who, what, where – can mean the difference between an article and an opinion piece. I can’t speculate to make the story more interesting. I can only work with the facts, no matter how bare or uninteresting they are.

All I can do to make my articles interesting is to have a good writing style. Hopefully, the positive responses I’ve received from the articles I’ve written are an indication that my style is good enough to keep people reading. I now have people requesting me, specifically, to write their articles. How strange is that?

Decades from now, people may look into the archives and see what I’ve written. People may clip my articles for keepsakes. It’s… daunting and terrifying. Every author wants to have their writing read in the years to come. Before, it was an abstract concept. Now I have that reality in front of me and I wonder if I’m good enough to deserve that.

There’s no point in wondering, or having doubts. All I can do is keep writing.

Chilling and chatting

Once a month is better than every three, right? Things are still so hectic that I’m still trying to settle into a schedule. I haven’t been playing many games, though, so I don’t think I’ll do a game review every week. I would have to delve pretty far back into my gaming past for that! I’m trying to think of other topics – comment below with your suggestions, please!

This post, I’ll forgo a game review as well. I don’t have anything really to say about my recent games. I want to play them a bit more before I write a review. So, I suppose I’ll do something that I don’t really do often: talk about myself.

It’s difficult to talk about myself, really. I don’t find myself very interesting. That’s why I talk about more interesting things like games and movies and everything else. However, I suppose I’ll make an effort.

As I sit here writing this, I’m munching on a hamburger and eating homemade fried potato disks. My desk, newly set up in my and my fiance’s apartment, has already started to accumulate clutter. I’ll have to clean it off soon, I expect, or else try to write in a pigsty. That can wait until after the nummy food is eaten yet.

My plans for the night are pretty simple. After I eat, I’m going to sit with my love and play a game with him. It’ll be a good night, one where I’ll likely beat him again. I beat him last night at Mass Effect Risk (his game!) and he wants revenge.

Hm, this seems like a nice place to end it. Good food, good company, board games. There’s something to be said for board games in this digital age. After that, it’ll be to bed for another day at work.

I look forward to the board games, at least. Night, folks!

Town of Salem review

Hey guys! Sorry for the extended absence. Things got hectic in my life, in between FINALLY moving out (at 27 years old, yeesh!) and getting to set up a whole new writing space. My desk is awesome! It’s got a little L on the side so I can set up some organizational tools. All I need now is a bookcase to put research materials and I’ll be golden!

Since I haven’t done anything in a while, I decided to do another game review. People seem to like them and, hey, I like writing them. I haven’t played much besides Final Fantasy XIV recently, so here’s a free browser-based one. You can find it here – it’s called Town of Salem.

Town of Salem is an interesting game. It has a simplified presentation and minimal interactions. When you enter a game, you’re presented with a graphical representation of you and your up to 14 fellow players. These are real people, so of course, your interactions will be based on how well you get along with them. On the top-left of the screen you’re presented with two windows: the graveyard, where dead players and their roles appear, and the role list. The role list is important in most games, as it provides a hint as to which roles are left in the game once people start dying. On the top-right you have your role. In case you’re not familiar with your role, it gives you a summary of what your goals are and how to go about it. If you mouse over the bottom of the window, it will show you who you win with. For example, the Town must kill the mafia, witches, werewolves, serial killers, and arsonists. Executioners, Jesters, and Survivors can live through the game. On the bottom right of the screen is the player list. Players who are still alive will show up here, and this is where most roles will interact with other players.

The most important part of Town of Salem is the in-game chat. During the day, players will share information with each other. Information gained during this chat will provide clues to investigative roles – two players claiming survivor, for example, will tip the investigators on who to check out. If the role list says only one survivor can be in the game, then one claimed survivor is lying. The chat window can be expanded with a button at the top so players can look back through the log and see what was said. They can also see who died on what night and from what, if need be.

Now on to the actual gameplay and the roles. There are a variety of roles in the game, categorized as investigative, killing, protective, and support. The mafia can see who other mafia members are, so their investigators will focus on finding important town members to kill at night. Town investigators will check out anyone suspicious, but their investigators are split into three roles. Lookouts can camp outside houses and see who visits a given person. Spies can hear the mafia and see who the mafia visit at night. Sheriffs can detect every mafia member except the godfather. Investigators will get a general summary of a person’s goal – “Your target seeks justice.” Then they are given up to three possible roles for that player.

As you can see, it’s important for investigative roles to report their findings. Separate, they can be virtually useless. When combined, mafia members and neutral killing roles can be identified quickly. They are the most important roles in the game, second perhaps to only the Jailor. The Jailor, as implied, can jail one person at night. If the person is suspicious, they can be executed. However, if the Jailor refuses to execute, they can be killed by an imprisoned serial killer or werewolf.

The protective roles are exclusive to the town. They are the bodyguard and doctor. The bodyguard chooses a target at night and, if that target is attacked, they will kill the attacker while dying in the process. The doctor will heal one person at night. They will protect known town roles, with priority given to the jailor and mayor. If they work in tandem, they can render a player impossible to kill at night.

Support roles seem boring at first, but they can help! The mayor may not be strictly a support role, but his weight is not to be trifled with. When the mayor reveals, his votes towards lynching count for three. However, once revealed, the doctor can’t heal him. In most games, once the mayor reveals, he’ll ask for the town’s roles in whispers. This is called a mayor game, and I personally don’t like them. It’s an easy win for the town and is honestly kind of cheap, in my humble opinion.

However, the other support roles are much more exciting. Escorts and Consorts distract a player for the night, preventing them from using their night ability. The mafia has blackmailers, janitors, disguisers, and framers. Those roles muddle the waters for the town investigators and can make innocent people seem guilty. The town has the Transporters, which swap the places of two players. On the one hand, it can muddle up investigators who don’t realize they investigated the wrong person. On the other hand, Transporters can cause a mafia member to kill other mafia or run into a night killing role.

The Medium and Retributionist roles are special roles. The medium will chat with any dead players at night – useful for getting information from dead investigators. If they die, they can talk to one living person to pass on their information. Retributionists have only one purpose: revive a dead town member. They can’t revive people who leave the game, but they can bring back important roles, such as jailor or mayor. Once they’ve used that ability, they have no purpose save as a vote for the town.

The killing roles are, in my opinion, the most fun. The mafia has Godfather and Mafioso, town has Veterans and Vigilantes, and the neutrals have arsonists, serial killers, and werewolves. The mafia can kill every night – the mafioso does the killing for the godfather, however. Veterans can kill anyone who visits them when they decide to go on alert. Vigilantes can kill up to three people at night, at the cost of suicide the next night if they kill a town member. Arsonists don’t kill immediately. They douse one person at night, but ignite all doused targets at once when they choose to. Werewolves only kill on nights of the full moon, but they kill anyone at the house of their choice. Serial Killers can kill every night, but just one person at a time.

The last few roles are the last neutral ones – witch, jester, executioner, survivor, and amnesiac. The first three are categorized as evil, in that they just want to wreak havoc. The witch controls one person at night, while the jester kills one person who lynches him. The executioner wants to lynch an innocent town member, but becomes a jester if his target dies at night. The survivor and amnesiac are neutral benign roles. The survivor just wants to live and can win with anyone. The amnesiac can remember one role from the graveyard and assume its abilities.

Whew, that was a lot of explanation! Now on to how the game actually plays. When the game starts, you don’t know your role until you enter the town. There are two phases, day and night. During the day, everyone chats with each other and shares information. They can vote one person to be lynched. Only the jailor, medium, and mayor can use their abilities during the day – the jailor decides who to lock up, the dead medium decides who to talk to, and the mayor chooses to reveal. The real fun comes at night.

Most roles can use their abilities at night – this is when investigators snoop around and the killings happen. The medium chats with the dead while the escorts role block suspected mafia members. When you choose your target, you wait for the timer to run down to see if you succeeded. Most roles only get results during the transition between night and day. The jailor is the exception, as he jails his target at the beginning of the night. If he executes, however, it’s at the end of the night. This is also when most people find out that they’ve died.

It’s a simple game with many layers. If you like chaos and the idea of it, this game is for you. If you’re not happy with simple sprite graphics or players who might annoy you, steer clear. I happen to enjoy the game. I just recently got a cool achievement – 100 wins! Now, if only I can get that elusive executioner win.

Minecraft (PS3) Review

Before we get started, let me set the record straight: I like games with a plot. Sandbox games leave me with a sense of despair because I don’t know what to do or where to go. Games that direct me to objectives are nice because I feel like I’m moving forward.

With that out of the way, let me talk about Minecraft. It’s a game that’s available for pretty much every single platform you can get your hands on right now. Its parent company was recently bought by Microsoft, but that’s another story that I really don’t care about. What I care about is what Minecraft is.

To the uneducated eye, it looks like an eye-searing mass of low-resolution pixels crudely slapped onto blocky 3D models. When I saw screencaps and videos of the game, I couldn’t ever picture myself playing it. What is it, I asked. Why is this popular? Sure, I saw things that people built. Skyscrapers, cities, vessels, whole worlds existed in those blocks. I never thought I could build any of those things. The most I could do, I thought, is crudely map out the layout of the Descent (from Trust) so readers would have a frame of reference for the action.

When Minecraft was released for the PS3, I rented it from the redbox. I figured I’d give it an honest try so I could say for sure that I didn’t like it. It’s one thing to talk badly about something, but I wanted to be able to say that I tried Minecraft. The very next day, I returned it to the redbox. I marched right to my workplace (walmart) and bought a copy for myself.

With that backstory out of the way, let me explain why I, a gamer who hates having no guide, bought Minecraft.

The tutorial world was a nice touch. I played through it so I could get the hang of the game, but after a while I decided to create my own custom world in survival mode, I plopped down into the middle of a clearing with some trees nearby. I followed the basic steps: create a shelter, build a workbench and tools, survey the area for resources. At a loss for what to do after that, I decided to take the name of the game to heart. I mined.

It was that sense of discovery that hooked me. In Minecraft, each world that you create is randomly generated. Even the same “seed” (a word or number put into one of the boxes at world creation) yields very different results every time. When I used yaoi at my fiancee’s house, it at first created a very stacked world with a ton of mountains that looked like pyramids. The same word at my house yielded the environment I described above.

I started digging into a nearby hill and discovered a cavern. I followed that cavern down and mined… and mined… and mined. When I had enough stone in my inventory to make a mortal man pass out, I decided what I wanted to build. My first building leaves much to be desired and also doubled as an Enderman trap. Endermen, in short, are scary as heck because they teleport and don’t like being looked at. If you look at them, they attack you. I had a good jump scare when I went to continue building and saw an Enderman inside walls I thought were safe.

Another thing that kept me playing was the ease of the controls. On PS3, your various menus are mapped to the buttons. Your inventory pops up with one button, your crafting menu with another. The trigger buttons on the controller make your character mine or place blocks. Despite opening the inventory plenty of times when I was after the crafting table, I had no issue with making whatever it is I wished.

Why is it addictive? I can’t really say. In creative mode, my fiancee built a ship and started to build a house while I decided to put jack-o-lanterns in the ocean. It was a completely random decision that nonetheless kept me occupied. It could be any number of elements. The graphics leave much to be desired, but at the same time their simplicity has a charm of its own. It could be that it lets you create your own story. I decided  that I wanted to build a tunnel from one end of the world to the other. I decided to build a pyramid that really didn’t turn out as a pyramid as well.

I suppose this wasn’t so much a review as a narrative of how I played. However, this game is deeper than it appears from observation. I highly recommend getting your hands on it and trying it for yourself.

Observations In Gaming

I got a guy to like me yesterday. 

We were doing the usual things and I wanted him to really like me. I heard good stuff happens if you get people to like you. Getting his affection was happening too slow, so I did something I normally wouldn’t.

I drugged him.

After the drugging his affection for me increased exponentially. We even had a nice little chat. He didn’t seem to mind being drugged, which made my guilt even worse. 

This guy’s name is Jude Mathis. He’s a character in Tales of Xillia and its sequel. It was in the sequel that the drugging happened. I gave him friendship potions and it didn’t even seem to bother him. It bothered me a lot, though. I realized something about myself: I think about the most minor details of games far too much. I found myself thinking about this thing that sounds so simple, but in practice has horrifying consequences.

I focused my attention on Jude for a simple reason: He’s cute, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him and Xillia 2’s protagonist rolling around somewhere, preferably without clothing. Most people will get squicked out by that, I know, but we all like what we like. After drugging Jude, I couldn’t help but wonder: what if I’d used those friendship potions on female party member Leia? Or Milla? How would that have sounded, then? 

Games that have a mechanic that let you drug your party members into liking you seem innocent enough. In most cases, you do something genuinely nice for that character. Pokemon lets you massage your pokemon once per day, which is a nice thing to do. It provides a valid reason for your pokemon to gain affection for you. Star Wars: The Old Republic allowed you to buy your companions gifts to win their affection. 

Those are all okay. You’re doing something nice for that character, so it stands to reason that they’d like you more for it. 

It was different with Jude, though. As I used those potions, I imagined the ways in which Ludger was getting Jude to drink them. Perhaps it was mixed in with another drink. Maybe they’re actually pretty good drinks in their own right and Jude didn’t mind drinking them on his own.

What if Ludger was forcing those potions down Jude’s throat?

Affection from a potion, not from an act of kindness, has that sort of vibe. It feels all kinds of date-rapey and not very honest. I wish this system had been implemented in a way that didn’t drag out these sorts of impressions. After the sixth potion, Jude initiated a private skit with Ludger (aka me, the player) and told me how much he was growing to appreciate me. I wish I could take those potions back. That convo made me feel even worse.

Next playthrough, if my attention span holds out, I’m going drug-free. Those friendship potions are going into a salesperson’s inventory (might as well get some gald for that hefty debt the game throws at you, am I right?) I’ll win Jude’s affection the hard way, by agreeing with him, fighting at his side, and making sure monsters don’t mess up his pretty face.

Con Report: Mechacon X

Hello again! I haven’t put up any promised reviews yet because I’ve been busy preparing for the title of this post. Mechacon X was a blast! Disclaimer: My experience is not indicative of anything but my experience.

My first day, there weren’t many panels I wanted to go to. I ended up hanging around Artist’s Alley, where Trust was on sale alongside my mother’s crafts and my cousin’s artwork. The first day I made no sales, sadly. When I wasn’t in Artist’s Alley, I was walking the con floor. My major disappointment was with the game room. It was moved off to the side this year and it lacked its defining feature. Without the mecha simulator pods, the game room was just another game room. Sleeping Samurai was a good addition in its stead. I took my fiance on in a bout and won him. Things I learned about myself: I go for the gut. Even so, fake sword fights and a round of Dance Central couldn’t completely fix the mecha pod disappointment.

On day two, I’d planned to cosplay the whole day. However, an early Yu-Gi-Oh sealed deck tournament took up a ton of my time. It was okay. I got a pretty good stall and token deck out of it. (Translation: I could bring up stuff to absorb damage while I got my own attackers out of it.) It was fun, but I felt like it took too much time from me. I had to skip a few panels I’d wanted to go to. After the tournament, I went up to the room and got into my cosplay. Only one person recognized me as Quatre Winner from Gundam Wing. I went to the Eien Strife concert as Quatre and found out something cool. I share a birthday with the lead singer of the band! I told her about it afterwards and it was like, birthday bonding moment is go! The rave was fun. I don’t dance, so I sat to the side with my fiance and enjoyed the music. I had glowsticks!

Day three was the winding down day. Vendors were discounting things, people were leaving, and I sold a few books. I didn’t cosplay that day. I went to two panels throughout the whole weekend on sunday: Eien Strife’s retro gaming challenge, where I failed horribly at Contra, and Spike Spencer’s voice acting panel. I gave Cheydra of Eien Strife a copy of Trust for her birthday. There was some disappointment as well. I got Spike to sign my copy of Tales of Vesperia without issues on Saturday. On sunday, however, I walked away from two actors when they demanded my hard-earned money for their signature. I told Scott Menville to his face that if they wanted my money for their signature, I’d be walking away – and I did.

The best part of my weekend was on Sunday. There was a Mecha Maid and Host Club on the third floor. I went there with my fiance in part because we wanted to see what it was and in part because we were hoping for free food. The food wasn’t free, but we had fun. I mentioned that it was my birthday and about halfway through the show all proceedings were brought to a halt. I’m not sure who she was, but one of the maids who wasn’t in a dress was on stage making this huge spectacle about secrets being kept. The next thing I realized was that I was surrounded by maids and hosts. They got on the floor and sang Happy Birthday to me. I got the cutest little treat for free and it was overall just very adorable.

Next best thing was seeing a booth for TeeTurtle in the Dealer’s Room. I got a Pocket Fury shirt – in short, when I where it, it looks like I have Toothless in my pocket. His tail with his prosthetic sticks out of the pocket and down the shirt. It’s officially the cutest thing I own.

I had a good time during the weekend, in short. There was some disappointment, but overall it was a very positive experience. I already can’t wait for next year.

Things are happening

Hello again! It’s taken a lot longer than the expected few days to get the ball rolling, but here things are. I have set the official release date for Trust at July 26th, 2014. When it’s officially available for release, I’ll post again to let my wonderful followers know.

After that, it’s back to the grind with normal stuff. More books to write, you know. More writing will be happening. More reviewing, too! My next review victims shall be:

Minecraft (PS3)

How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Lego Movie

Any others you can recommend!

Seriously, I’m kind of waiting for other stuff to come out. If you want me to watch a particular movie or play a particular game, just let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to do everything I can. 

Until next time~