Sunday, June 15, 2014

A stab at..SEO Writing

 Some more SEO practice. Think I will try a couple different writing styles next time. Wrote this after watching my cohort play through Watch_Dogs' story mode a couple times, become and maintaining top 2% in multiplayer world ranking and earn nearly all the trophies. Aka, maximizing the potential of the game :-)  Again, Ubisoft/Watch_Dogs had nothing to do with this, it was just a thoroughly impressive experience.
  

About a year ago, in the wake of the next gen console announcement, whispers of Watch_Dogs sent the community of Ubisoft Montreal fans abuzz—ourselves included. For those who enjoyed the Far Cry games and obsessed over the Assassin’s Creed series, their take on a digital world ripe for the hacking was pallet whetting. Like any good gossip, information trickled out slowly; a trailer here, an article there and rumors of a release date kept us wanting more. Already convinced, I ordered the collector’s edition early this year from Amazon, my Prime membership securing a release date delivery day. (Something I’ve used successfully for each game that had to be here the day it came out.) All that was left to wait with eager anticipation for the next Ubisoft gem…  Then May 27th came.
An experimental security software called ctOS has been implemented throughout the city much to the outrage of some and delight of others within Chicago. Our fallen hero, Aiden, is a Fixer: a more universally skilled hacker that’s not afraid to come out from behind the monitor and get his hands dirty. Wounded in the aftermath of a job gone wrong, Aiden is a good man (whether he remains honorable is up to you) dead set on retribution. You can hack into almost anything that has an electronic pulse to gather your information and use it—the most common thing to access are people’s cell phones, but there are also ATMs, car alarms, stoplights, security cameras, steam pipes, among a slew of other things at your disposal. With the skills that you develop and the choices you make, the world can be your playground—or your punching bag. The supporting characters—Clara, T-Bone, Damien, Tobias, Iraq, Quinn and my personal favorite, Jordi (he’s a riot,)—round out the cast with a wide enough range of personalities for everyone to love or hate.
Multiplayer options are Online Hacking, Online Tailing, Online Racing and ctOS Mobile Challenge.  If you’re logged into your account online, your game is eligible to be invaded by another player at any time except while you’re on a story mission. The story is what introduces you to and gives you experience using all the tools that are at your disposal that are quite often integral in the online portion of the game. That being said, Watch_Dogs isn’t for those who don’t care to get into the role of the game. To be able to enjoy and take advantage of what it has to offer, you have to immerse yourself fully into the world.
This includes and is perhaps most suited to the multiplayer experience. You’ll need to exploit your environment to its fullest; duck into dumpsters, hide in cars, use the cameras that are littered throughout the city. If you just barge around trying to observe or hack someone, you’ll get nowhere—and probably shot. Conversely, when you’re being hacked or tailed, the point is not to merely book it out of town like a scaredy cat, but to seek out your attacker and stop them.  Play the game how it was intended: stealthily.
Unfortunately this appeal is rendered moot when the basic camaraderie of online gameplay no longer exists between strangers—which was the only negative experience with the game after a week and half of consistent playing. It was the same lazy attitudes that ruined AC Brotherhood online play—lack of commitment to the role. But that can all be taken with a grain of salt and you can just enjoy the story mode because there’s plenty to do in the massively interactive environment.
Another option is the ctOS Mobile App for earning XP and playing online. It’s a game companion app you can download on your phone to play against console gamers. You’re a ctOS operator trying to prevent a criminal (your online opponent) from getting from checkpoint to checkpoint using all the hackable objects within the city, like roads, bridges, stoplights, steam pipes, electrical panels, etc. There are different levels and you can challenge particular people if you feel so inclined.
The controls and mechanics of the game flow quite smoothly. Getting in and out of cover takes some figuring out (it seems every game has a different take on that,) and a roll move might have been useful, but other no real complaints otherwise. Graphically, it looks stunning. Watch Aiden’s jacket flow while driving a motorcycle or burn some rubber in a muscle car, you’ll notice that the particles, weights and collisions were tended to beautifully.
On a final note, it still is the little things make all the difference in a game. Casual references and throwbacks, tidbits and subtleties that make the experience more memorable and fun. Body movements seem to be more believable when reacting to the things you affect; disabling someone’s radio causes them to cringe and topple over, explosions scatter and stun those nearby. If a car explodes, the driver makes an attempt to stumble out and get away instead of just sitting in the driver’s seat, dying. We are also awarded some heroic XP for pulling someone out of their car after an explosion—it popped up as a vulnerability that they were stuck in their car, frozen by fear. And most fun of all, Ubisoft managed a couple shout-outs to their other games, our favorite being the ctOS video of a kid playing AC while his dad tries to figure out what’s going on. (“Why’s he talking to the guy he just killed?”) If you haven’t already, go out and pick up the game. Ubisoft has impressed us again.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Humans


 Wrote this a little bit ago. The date is made up, but the time of night is quite accurate. Strange how our minds are so lucid in the wee hours of the morning...

 
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A stab at...SEO Writing

Since the popular thing for the industry is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writing, I thought I'd try my hand. First go at it. (This is my opinion, none of the names or sites mentioned had anything to do with my writing this article. It's just something that I enjoy.)



I love American Sign Language probably most of all the languages I've come to learn. A very ardent and organic being, it inspires me every day. The expressions, the emotion, the energy of its users all flow in a dynamic symphony be it a regular conversation or a play by the National Theatre of the Deaf. There are a ton of ways to dive into the world of ASL. I am not new to ASL, but nor am I an expert. I began with a book of the alphabet in 1st grade and continued on with classes at my local junior college when I got older.
           What I'd recommend to get started is to take a class; it’s hands-on, consistent learning, and most importantly, actual practice with other people, which exposes you to different styles and skill levels of signing. It will also introduce you to Deaf culture, an awareness of audism, and the beauty of the fluid signer. If no class is available in your area, books are always a great supplement and reference. All books are worth reading once if only to experience a diversity of vocabulary; you’ll run into many common signs, but others will differ due to regional use and natural language evolution. So support your local library and check out some books if you’re unsure about buying before you figure out what you like. There are also great resources online that offer many ASL lessons and vocabulary. A couple of sites I frequent are Lifeprint and Signing Savvy, but any Google search will provide a slew of options. I like Lifeprint/ASLU because there are actual lessons and you can buy a CD with them all on it for studying at your leisure. Signing Savvy is cool because it has videos of each sign (sometimes multiple versions,) but it’s definitely more of a dictionary/reference site.
In order to be well-versed at any language, repetition is the key to excelling and maintaining proficiency. A few ways I’ve tried to stay fluent in ASL is to practice signing or fingerspelling while I’m on a jog or driving (only while idling…), prompted by my music, street signs or inner dialogue. License plates are also great for impromptu letter/number combinations—and those you can do with one hand while the other remains on the wheel.
However you make (and continue) your journey into the world of American Sign Language, make sure you practice often and keep an open mind. It's going to take hard work and an actual interest in Deaf culture to become fully immersed. Luckily, there are many ways to learn and many people who will gladly support you in your endeavor if you're truly interested.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A taste of...Magi

Some snippets from a story in progress. And one of my most favorite pieces of art ever! All artwork is done by Hawnt. Much more to come for the Magi series! Exciting!



Friday, March 28, 2014

A taste of...Underwater Battle

A snippet of something I wrote out of a brainstorm session with a couple colleagues. The story's core was not my own, but I was able transform pages of notes into prose where others could not. Just a taste...