Miscellany

Writing is a Thing I Do

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I haven’t written anything here in a while. The reason for it is I’ve been writing things in other places. Now that I’m officially on staff for www.indiegames.com, I’m writing articles for them 4-6 times a week. This involves finding and trying good games on top of the writing itself. It’s also November, which back home in the USA is National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo.

Every year, a lot of people celebrate NaNoWriMo. The goal is to pump out 50,000 words of a story over the course of the month. It’s doable if you keep up with it. When I tried last year, though, I got a few thousand words in and then stopped. This year, I picked up the same story and am trying to actually finish it. It may be a little cheaty to use the same idea and what I started with last year, but this is a story idea that’s been floating around my head for years waiting to be written.

Besides, when the goal is 50,000 words, what’s a 2,500 word head start?

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Japan

School Festival: We are HERO!!

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Stained-glass style banner the students hung just inside the school's main entrance.
The kids insisted on being grammatically incorrect.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been busy — I’m now writing articles for IndieGames.com regularly. I also went to Tokyo Game Show (the first event of its kind I’ve ever been to). Coming back from Tokyo Game Show, I came down with a cold. It’s caused minimal discomfort but a fever that kept me out of work for 3 days.

This past Sunday my junior high school had its annual school festival. It’s the first time I’ve been to one of my schools’ festivals without having been around for most of the weeks of practice since right after I first got here. This made it an event of mixed feelings. A big part of the reason I missed so much of the prep time was Tokyo Game Show and the cold it gave me.

I’m also not at all sorry for going to Tokyo Game Show.

>_>

Anyway, read on if you want to find out about all the neat stuff my students did for their festival. Here’s a list of the general flow of the day, with details starting after the break. This is be the first of multiple posts. (Check out part two and part three.)

  • Free performances by grade
  • Choir performances by grade
  • PTA Choir performance
  • Random performances (optional)
  • Lunch
  • Dance performances (all grades)
  • Play performance (all grades)
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Games

Final Fantasy XIV: Great, when logging in happens

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Final Fantasy XIV Logo at time of ARR beta
FINAL FANTASY is a registered trademark of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (hereafter ARR) officially launched last week. The developers aimed to make a game that was renowned for being terrible into something good. Square Enix didn’t anticipate so many people wanting to play, though. There are not nearly enough servers for us all.

There’s been so much demand for the game it took me four hours of trying to log in yesterday. They’ve capped the number of people who can log on to a given server at any given time. This makes it hard to actually get in to play the game. Once you do manage to log on to a character, though, the experience is great. This way, Square Enix has managed to avoid the problem of lag, lag, lag that usually plagues highly-anticipated MMOs (and their expansions) when they are first released. This excellent gameplay experience comes, however, at the cost of angry customers.

This is a long article, so here’s my TL; DR: It’s like Final Fantasy XI, but with some modern MMO conventions. I recommend it, but if you want to play it you should wait a bit before doing so.

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Games

EA Has Surprised Me

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My Origin Library

My last customer service interaction with EA Games is one of many reasons I’m boycotting their products. I installed Origin today, though, as I already have a couple of games acquired through it. It seemed the easiest way to find out if they ever got ported to Mac (unlikely though that may be).

When I logged in, however, the number of games in my library was three times what I expected. Is this related to that terrible customer service experience, or something else?

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Games

Candy Crush Saga Review

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Last weekend, I got to play some Candy Crush Saga on my friend’s phone. It was interesting enough, and different enough from Bejeweled, that I decided to download it and give it a more thorough try.

Candy Crush Saga screenshot, courtesy of Albert Hsieh
Photo credit: Albert Hsieh. Click the photo to see the original on Flickr.

Here’s the short version: the game isn’t necessarily bad. However, since it’s free-to-play, the designers have made some choices that I don’t agree with. They’ve created a game which requires strategy to beat, but luck can mess up all of your strategy. Their monetization strategies are also finely tuned to really eke money out of the players, for better or for worse.

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Development

Openings in Creative Endeavors

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Article header regarding opening sentences

My best friend linked me an article in which Steven King talks about opening sentences to books — how important they are, why that is, and what makes some more memorable than others. He spends a long time crafting the opening sentences to his books.

It’s a fascinating read, whether or not you like to write. But while I was reading it, my mind drifted a bit. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing styles recently anyway, thanks to the author’s commentary at the end of the Ender’s Game audiobook. This article just built on that for me.

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Development

The Open Bundle

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Six years later edit (April 21, 2019): Links to the bundle have been removed. They now lead to a page that seems dangerous. Additionally, I’m no longer convinced bundles are a good thing. That’s another story, though.

open_bundle_header

There are so many game bundles on the internet (thank you, Humble Bundle, for making this a trend) that The Open Bundle is easy to overlook. Its name is simple but not descriptive, and to be honest it doesn’t actually include any games. Instead, it has art, music, and code for making games. What really makes it special, though, is that it’s a grand experiment in leveraging crowdfunding to make releasing things under Creative Commons licensing viable for artists.

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Japan

Daddy’s Job

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This is a story one of the parents in my town posted on his Facebook wall.

お父さんの仕事

仕事帰り娘と二人、夜道を家路につく道すがら、娘が唐突に「お父さんはどんなお仕事しているの?」と聞いてきた。

小学3年生の娘に林業をどう説明したらよいかと、一瞬頭は躊躇ったが、気づいたら「お父さんは中川の森を守っているんだよ」と答えていた。

「木を調べたり、植えて育てたり、たまに伐っていたりしているんだよ。森は水や空気をきれいにしたり、動物たちのおうちになるんだよ」と続けたら、娘が「じゃあお父さんは中川を守ってるんだね」と嬉しそうに笑った。

ガス欠間近の心に、力が湧いてきた。

明日もがんばろう。

And here is my translation.

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