Anime Sunday: GGO Episode 01 Impressions

This week for Anime Sunday I’m covering a spin off of a rather popular series. It’s my Sword Art Online Alternative: GGO Episode 01 Impressions!

Plot Synopsis: In the online virtual reality game, Gun Gale Online, a girl with the username Llenn participates in a team-based Battle Royale event called Squad Jam alongside her teammate M…

Plot: The plot of this first episode is pretty great, with plenty of action. It also doesn’t include Kirito at all, which is a blessing in my eyes since he’s either a dense as a rock, or really cruel, harem protagonist.

Characters: Llenn is a tiny girl who is pretty timid, but shows some real backbone when the going gets tough. Though her character design is rather ridiculous, being one of the shortest main characters I’ve ever seen. The rest of the cast, who is rather limited in this first episode is pretty interesting.

Art: The art of this first episode is pretty great, but given that this project probably got a huge budget that is hardly surprising. So while good, it’s not spectacular and definitely not close to reaching ufotable’s standard.

Music: The music is pretty great, and while reminiscent of the main series it’s got it’s own feel.

Overall: If you love the premise of the Sword Art Online series, but hate Kirito, you’ll probably love this spin off.

For those who like: VRMMOs, Gaming, FPS Games, Battle Royales, Fantastic Female Lead, Decent Plot, Good Artwork.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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Bookish Wednesday: Io Online by Dave Willmarth

This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering the first in another LitRPG series. It’s Io Online, Book 01 of The Greystone Chronicles, by Dave Willmarth!

Plot Synopsis: In the latter half of the 21st century, Alexander and his guild mates play Io Online for fun and to earn a living. It’s the largest VRMMORPG on the planet, and the source of income that supports families around the globe. Given the chance to test a new experimental immersion system, the friends must give up their high level characters and begin again at level one….

Plot: The plot is pretty great, in fact it’s one of the better LitRPGs out there. I’m looking forward to listening to the sequel quite a bit. While there are plenty of standard plot devices that occur, they are utilized in such a way that it isn’t grating, at least to me.

Characters: Alex is our main character and PoV for most of the story. He’s a great lead character, and while he’s not the best I’ve ever seen I found myself enjoying his story quite a bit. The rest of the cast is also pretty awesome.

Overall: A good LitRPG and one of the better ones out there. Definitely worth a read if you love games or good Fantasy.

For those who like: LitRPGs, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Awesome Plot, Fantastic Cast of Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Bookish Wednesday: Soulstone Awakening by J. A. Cipriano

This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m looking at the first entry in another LitRPG series. It’s Soulstone Awakening by J. A. Cipriano!

Plot Synopsis: Aaron Hope plays video games, like a lot, just not professionally. When he entered the EpiX! Games! PVP World Championship on a lark, this college senior never expected to make it to the final round, nor to get drugged and shoved into the alpha test for World of Ruul.

Plot: This book tries too hard to be something it shouldn’t be and it has a lot of tropes that have made up the LitRPG genre, stuck in a game, permadeath etc…  Frankly betweeen the somewhat stale premise and the various references that litter the book about other series like Legendary Moonlight Sculptor or Sword Art Online, which aren’t even hidden they are just flat out mentioned, it’s pretty obvious that this is the authors first attempt at writing in the genre. Frankly anything slightly original in this book just doesn’t make up for the pure boredom the story gave me.

Characters: Aaron is a smart ass, and while I tend to enjoy that in a character, the entire cast is pretty unlikable including Aaron. In fact I hated just about every character.

Overall: Stay away from this book, and series. There are plenty of more entertaining and better written series out there for those who want a good LitRPG book.

For those who like: LitRPGs, Mediocrity, Stale Plot, Dull Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

TNT: The King’s Avatar Chapters 1-40 by Butterfly Blue

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This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m covering the first set of chapters in a series I came across a while back. It’s The King’s Avatar Chapters 1-40 by Butterfly Blue!

Plot Synopsis: In the online game Glory, Ye Xiu is regarded as a textbook example and a top-tier pro-player. However, due to a myriad reasons, he is kicked from his team. After leaving the professional scene, he finds work in an Internet Cafe as a manager. When Glory launches its tenth server, he who possesses ten years of gaming experience once again throws himself into the game. Bringing with him the memories of his past and an incomplete, self-made weapon, his return along the road to the summit begins!

Plot: The plot is pretty good, although these first forty chapters are very much a foundation for the rest of the series. If you are a gamer though, you’ll appreciate this series quite a bit.

Characters: Ye Xiu is a great male lead, he’s ruthless, smart and very skilled. The rest of the cast isn’t really introduced all that well yet, but Chen Guo is a fairly amusing character.

Overall: If you love gaming, you’ll love The King’s Avatar.

For those who like: Gaming, Fantasy, Action, E-Sports, Great Plot, Excellent Cast of Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Video Game Tuesday: Player Unfriendly Decisions and Their Consequences

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This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m taking a look at the ramifications of Player Unfriendly Decisions and Their Consequences.

What is a Player Unfriendly Decision?: For starters let’s settle what a Player Unfriendly Decision is (I’m shortening it to PUD from now on since I’m lazy.) A PUD is a choice a developer makes that they may think is an interesting choice, but really leads the end user (read: You as the gamer) to have to do certain actions that are often detrimental to either their continued play of their product or forces them to play a certain way regardless of their preferred style. What isn’t a PUD is something like a properly specced Talent Build like WoW used to have prior to the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack. Players choosing to make their personal playstyle be ineffective isn’t the developers fault.

A Recent Example of a PUD: God I can’t believe this got into full release personally, and no we never knew about it prior to release because of the level cap in Alpha and Beta. The decision for Destiny to make it so Legendary Engrams didn’t give out Legendary items always was the stupidest decision I’ve seen in a while, and people were rightfully upset at the stupidity of it. That being said it’s not fully fixed and certain things could be done to make the situation better. Sometimes Engrams turn into Ascendant Materials, which are now useless for almost all of the high end players, and this leads the joy of finding one into a bitter disappointment. This can be solved by making it always turn into a Legendary item and sometimes give in addition to that item Ascendant Materials or Exotic Equipment. This would be the easiest and smartest choice Bungie could do to solve this problem, why they haven’t done so I can only guess as to why although some of my friends think it’s because there is a severe lack of programmers working on Destiny at the moment.

Consequences of PUDs: The continual repetition of making PUDs leads to player burn out and disappointment and hatred towards the game and the people who make it. The choice to make the RNG so unforgiving, and at the same time necessary to progress, in Destiny is leading many players to find the quickest ways to beat the hardest encounters often called “cheesing”; and while I applaud Bungie for fixing these exploits the choice to ignore other more pressing matters is an even greater PUD in my opinion. Bugs like the one with Heavy Ammo makes high end PvE play incredibly time consuming for the average player because they don’t use those cheeses, but when they try to do something legitmatly it ends up costing them time and money (both in game and real money due to the requirement of paying for PS+ and Xbox Live Gold time). The particular bug I’m talking about is the one where if a player is wearing any form of Heavy Ammo increasing equipment, they lose a full clip of ammo (usually 2 rockets) per death. This is a major bug that has been around since Beta, if not Alpha, and it’s been nearly 6 months since release and it’s not been fixed. Something like this should have been fixed prior to any fixes made to Raid encounters exploits. Yes pushing the end boss off the edge is highly exploitative, however with the rash of PUDs Bungie has made in regards to Destiny I don’t feel bad for using those exploits in the least.

What Should Developers Do?: Well first off actually listen to what people are saying, granted that most of the internet is a cesspool 98% of the time, but that 2% can give really good ideas. Second let their focus testers play the full game if possible. In a game like Destiny or WoW, the players will always find ways to make their lives easier, which means exploiting any and every advantage even if it’s not something the developer expected. A focus test group is meant to find these advantages because making something doesn’t mean you know exactly how to beat it the easiest and quickest way. If the developer isn’t equipped to handle such a thing, they need to quickly solve that issue (by hiring more people or whatever it takes) while taking care of any bugs that cause players issues prior to fixing problems with code that allows an easier play experience.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.

Journalism and Ethics in Gaming and Elsewhere

 

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So over the last few months there has been numerous outrages and atrocities committed in the name of having more ethics in gaming journalism. As an aspiring gaming journalist myself I want to tell you that what you may perceive as being unethical is not limited solely to gaming journalism. In fact the entire modern system of journalism is built upon having little to no ethics at all.

Accepting Free Stuff: Sometimes game reviewers get the game in advance, so that when a game comes out they can post a review on Day 1, or even Day 0 sometimes. This isn’t limited to the gaming sector of journalism. It happens in every single part of journalism! Sports reporters for newspapers or television channels often get into games for free with their pass. As a student in High School working for their journalism club or student newspaper, or even the yearbook club you can often get into events for free for the purpose of taking quality pictures. Do you review books? Authors regularly send out early copies of their books so they can write up reviews for the book.  This isn’t limited to the gaming scene, and accepting free consoles isn’t unusual especially if you are reviewing the system itself. If you say you want more ethics in gaming journalism and accept the fact that sports reporters often get better seats than any 40+ year season ticket holder at a game you are being hypocritical on a scale of large magnitude. I might get a free game a few days early that only costs $60 retail, whereas any amazing seat that lets you be close to, or on for photographers, the playing area of a sporting event costs hundreds of dollars.

Ethics: Let’s get down to the nitty gritty part of ethical actions in Journalism. If you watch any big news channel, like FOX or CNN, the journalist who finds a big scoop is paid huge amounts of money to give those stations exclusive access to their material. Do you know how most reporters get access to big scoops? They bribe people to give them exclusive access to information that will sell. Those people you see on TV with their faces blurred out or distorted voices are often paid huge amounts of money to even have portions of their body shown on TV. TMZ for example is built on such tactics, they pay Paparazzi huge amounts of money to get the latest dirt on celebrity stars, and yet most people just accept it now. Yet those same people getting upset over a reviewer of a product getting a free copy of said product is beyond stupid.

YouTuber’s being paid to say good things about a product: I don’t see how this is any different from a celebrity telling you about the latest medical innovation that just hit the shelves of your local pharmacy and claiming it will help you become a better looking person.  They are getting paid to say something, just like any other form of advertisement. It may annoy the hell out of you, but it’s not unethical or immoral.

TL;DR: Guess what I’m trying to say now is that #GamerGate, beyond it’s highly immoral and highly destructive actions against members of the game dev community, is a movement based on hypocrisy. If you aren’t upset at the rest of journalism for doing the exact same things as gaming journalists, you lose all right to complain about it in the gaming sector. If by some chance you are upset about the unethical actions that ALL journalists take, then it’s a hell of a lot more than just about gaming and you should distance yourself from #GamerGate.

I think that doing something ethically is swell, however there is a difference between doing something ethically and doing something immorally. I find ethically that there is nothing wrong with taking an advance review copy of a product for review, as it is often not the best quality and may have errors in small areas like grammar. I think that being paid tons of money so that a huge news conglomerate can get an exclusive video of the latest star acting rude in public is immoral. One ruins someones life, possibly forever whether they deserve it to be ruined or not, the other is just doing a job that you get compensated for.

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Anime Sunday: No Game No Life by Yū Kamiya (Anime Review Only)

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This week on Anime Sunday I’m reviewing one of my favorite shows of this season’s anime, No Game No Life. It is adapted from the Light Novel series of the same name, written by Yū Kamiya.

Plot Synopsis: Siblings Sora and Shiro are a pair of hikikomori NEETs who together form 『  』 (Kūhaku (空白, lit. “blank space”)), four undefeated online gamers and urban legends. They both consider the real world to be a “crappy game“. They are summoned by a boy calling himself “God” to a fantasy world where he has forbidden all violence and warfare between the sixteen intelligent races living there; instead, everything is decided by games. The siblings find themselves the would-be saviors of the human race (Imanity), who rank sixteenth among the races and have been confined to their sole remaining city.

Plot: If you were to mix Mondaiji-tachi with Code Geass you’d get No Game No Life, and it takes the best of both of those series and makes an interesting ride where you really never know what Sora and Shiro will do next as 『  』.

Characters: I’ve only read the first Light Novel myself and as of this writing the Anime has just finished covering the events of that novel, so I can’t say if characters like Stephanie Dola will stay with 『  』on their quest to beat every other race into submission. I sincerely hope so because Steph is hilarious to watch, especially when she’s going through her “Steph-Vision” phases. That isn’t to say I don’t like Sora and Shiro as characters, because I do, but I find that with Steph their antics have an interesting foil.

Art: Probably the real reason this show isn’t going to have a 2-Cours, 2 seasons worth of episodes, is because it’s production value is through the roof with the artwork of Yū Kamiya’s godlike work. This series is absolutely one of the most vibrant and good looking anime’s I’ve watched in a long time. It easily outdoes the winner of prettiest anime from last year Kyoukai no Kanata.

Music: I really enjoy the ending and opening themes as well as the soundtrack to this show, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them when I get the chance to listen to in my free time.

Overall: If you like Batman Gambit’s and seeing nerds outwit Gods and other mystical races you’ll enjoy this anime.

For those who like: Games, Crazy antics by the main characters, Crazy Plans, Amazing Artwork, Lovable Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, but really how can you hate any of that?