Archive | March 2014

Titanfall: where is my story?

Immersion is a key element to any sci-fi title – movie or game – and it is critical for the writer(s) to be able to capture ones’ imagination and hold onto it in order for the series to be successful. While not having played Titanfall myself (and thus this will not be a post regarding game play) I have dived into the story arc a bit, and what I see is disappointing to say the least. The universe has potential, and indeed being a ‘newborn’ so to speak, has the potential to expand into something wonderful: think back to when the first Mass Effect game was released. Now with that said, Titanfall is not meant to be the next Mass Effect, but such potential is incredible, and it would be a shame to see it go to waste in the blink of an eye.

Titanfall-1

Indeed one has to wonder why did the developers – with such freedom – would squander their opening move and produce a lack luster campaign. The fact that it is a multiplayer campaign is of no concern; after all plenty of games have given the player(s) a choice of having their friends and random strangers drop into their story arc to aid them and so forth. Yet when you look at Titanfall, it was as though the developers failed to realize what potential their new title had, and instead opted to compete – more or less – with current shooters which, while having a singleplayer campaign, are very much multiplayer oriented.

Now there is some highlights of the campaign, as the dialogue between characters is well suited to the title, and indeed it adds to the game play, rather than forcing the player to stop and watch a cutscene and so forth. However cutscenes are there to enhance the experience, and really place the player in a situation where they feel part of the universe. The bits that are in the game really help to reinforce the fact that you are in a frontier war, and that every move you make is for the cause: but this falls apart as well in the end. After the Militia campaign, there is the IMC campaign which is needed in order to unlock – I believe – another few Titan variants. Yet when you play the IMC, the story definitely feels scripted as even though you ‘win’ a match, you technically lose because the story was sculpted to favour the Militia, rather than the IMC.

Did the developers even look at titles like Dawn of War? Did the developers even play Command and Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars? The two games mentioned offer the player a chance to change the course of the story – or even play the story out from a completely different view. Example being Dawn of War Dark Crusade – a title I am familiar with: when you play the Imperial Guard, after your victory the cutscene is that your faction was victorious on Kronus, and that the other factions (even the Space Marines) were utterly beaten into submission. Flipping that to the Space Marines and the story plays out in a totally different manner. Why cannot the IMC win the war instead of The Militia? Why does the IMC campaign have to be a complete mockery of the faction, and make a player feel utterly worthless in an age when choice in games via dialogue and actions is part of the experience?

Yes yes there is the excuse that because it is a multiplayer campaign, the IMC has to lose in order for the story to progress. Yet why not have alternating cutscenes where if one faction wins, the cutscene depicting their victory is shown, and the same goes for the other faction? Instead what you get is literally the same experience, just from another point of view; even then the story could have been better.

Titanfall is a newborn to this world, and hopefully next time around the story arc will be better. Ultimately video games is another form of entertainment and media, and it can be used to tell stories much like books and movies: there is real potential in this format, it just has to be used and not thrown aside in favour of the flavour of the month.

 

The Coffee Break. 25 March 2014

Hello folks;

 

A man by the name of Byron Thomas Hobbs has been released from police custody after being charged with assaulting a tattoo parlour employee according to CBC news. Byron, aged 32 and weighing in at around 215 pounds, and being six-foot-three, assaulted a 50 year old woman who is only five-foot-two and 125 pounds: the man is seen in the surveillance video tripping the store owner, then proceeding to kick the woman in the chest area, before taking a chair that she uses to try to block the man, and viciously assaulting the woman. While having a history of such behaviour, the courts released Hobbs and has scheduled him to make another appearance sometime in the near future.

“Oxygen thieves” like this man deserve no mercy whatsoever. Call me old-fashioned, but the man attacked a woman who was not only way older than he was, but significantly weaker than he is as evidence by the height and weight distributions. Animals like this should be under some sort of surveillance, and while yes it violates their rights, would you want a man such as Byron entering your store when he has a history of violence in the form of assaulting a tattoo parlour owner, and before that attacked a male employee at a Granville Mall shoe store?

Those “professors” who talk about needing less police and such, do not know that in reality, people only behave and respect one another because there is punishment on the other end if they do not. Why else would gamers be jerks to one another on – say – World of Tanks; blocking you from exiting the spawn point, or shooting you to piss you off? Apart from a possible ban of their account, there is no real punishment that exists on games like World of Tanks for people who are complete jerks. Ultimately there will always be a need for enforcers of the law, and situations like this one shows us that this is still true today. The link to the story is located below: thanks for reading, and I will see you next time.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/suspect-in-vancouver-tattoo-parlour-attack-back-on-streets-1.2586599

Game of Thrones Season 4 preview video: thoughts and comments.

Hello folks;

 

While the trailer was designed to hype up the viewer base for season 4, I could not help but wonder what will season 4 bring us in terms of performances? Now the story itself is roughly going along the lines of the book, and to anyone out there interested in what happens, the books (or the wikipedia page) can give you every piece of information there is on what is coming in season 4. With that said, the show is still worth ones time as the acting in the series is fairly well done. Not only is the acting similar to that of the Imperial Agent storyline from the Old Republic, but similar to the Agent’s storyline it triggers that sense of political intrigue; the desire to know more, to dive deeper into the lore and understand how and why these people behave the way they behave in the show.

The actors and actresses are quite skilled on how they portray their given characters: the facial expressions and the likes all add to the atmosphere of the world in which they are tasked with bringing to life. Hopefully the cast of season 4 does a good job as there are a few changes to the roster of actors portraying certain characters: it would be a shame to see it fall flat on its face while on stage so to speak. The link to the interviews/first look is located below: have a peak, figure things out for yourself, and be prepared to enjoy season 4 if you are that type of person who is interested in political games – hence the name of the series.

2 months of subscribing, and a ton of flashpoints later.

The Old Republic continues to occupy my spare time these past few weeks. Indeed the game continues to give even when you think you have seen it all; being on a role-playing server gives another layer of fun to an already entertaining title. Initially I entered the Old Republic to enjoy just the main story arc, by-passing all the trappings of an MMORPG. Yet as time passed I noticed that I was starting to enjoy the title outside of the main story arc, which lead me to subscribe in February. Now nearly two months later, I think I am starting to consider subbing again for another two months: the game just never stops to amaze me. Nowadays I spend my time on the Vaiken Spacedock – the main staging point of the Imperial Fleet, and the de-facto capital of the Empire – queuing for Flashpoints and relaxing with other players at the cantina. The atmosphere is unlike any other game: the aesthetics of the station are quite smooth, elegant and clean. The spacedock is almost like the jewel of the Empire, showing off not only the might of its civilization, but also the discipline.

Seven characters later, and I am still no where near level cap: all seven characters are of different advanced classes, and all of them are equally fun to play. There may come a day where that seven becomes eight as I have yet to test out the Powertech advanced class. Having said that, I tried to make another Republic Trooper, but ended up deleting him after getting to the end of Ord Mantell – the Trooper’s starting planet. There was something about the faction that just turned me off completely, and thus leaving me with the feeling that one is enough (currently sitting on another server). The Empire has fully grasped my interest, and it continues to hold it to this day. The game does a good job of instilling faction loyalty, and this helps a player immerse themselves into the game and enhances the experience. Factions not only add character to a game, but if well written could also inspire unique stories from the said fictional universe.

Trooper_vanguard1

Rumor has it that player housing will be introduced into TOR sometime in the near future. Imagine owning a condo in either Corusant, or Kaas City: what a view that would be, and what an interesting bit that would add to the game to further personalize the experience. Rather than feeling you are a tourist in the world, you are actually living in it. Owning property, personal transportation, and titles adds to the experience. However there is one thing I am not entirely good at: Galactic Starfighter. Yes the people wanted a starfighter experience, and for the most part it is well done: I am simply not good with the mechanics yet. Thus far the only thing I spend my time on are flashpoints – with PVP even taking a hiatus from the routine. Maybe in the near future I will give Galactic Starfighter another go, but for now it will not be part of the regular routine as I simply do not enjoy it.

Two months into a subscription, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time in TOR. The game is definitely something to take a look at for those interested in sci-fi and/or Star Wars. This game is what we have been looking for as a community, and hopefully this title will continue to experience success in the coming months and into the future.

Foreign service. The Coffee Break: 17 March 2014.

Hello folks;

Earlier an article appeared on CBC’s website that talked about how the Royal Canadian Legion – Canada’s veterans association – had asked a veteran to remove and return his veteran plate in what they deemed was an error in decision-making. The veteran identified himself as a US Army veteran who served in Vietnam told CBC that he was disappointed in the Legion’s decision, and that he should be allowed to keep the plate. The link to the full article will be posted at the end of this piece.

Right so where do we begin; a man serves in a foreign army, in a foreign war that has nothing to do with Canada, and yet he expects the Royal Canadian Legion to honour his service time with the veterans license plate? According to CBC, the criteria for a veteran license plate is service in either the Canadian Forces, or one of Canada’s wartime allies. However in Ontario (the case being from Manitoba) veterans of Vietnam do qualify for the license plate. This presents an interesting scenario as those who fought for a foreign military outside of the wartime ally criteria are eligible for a veteran plate, whereas in Manitoba the same cannot be said for veterans living in that province.

The veteran stated that he joined the US Army because he did not want to wait for a year on the Canadian Army’s list – this of course was the case as the Army’s intake had to be evenly paced and not rapid. When an individual goes off to fight in another nation’s military outside of wartime allies, do they really qualify as the home nation’s “veteran?” When I go off to serve in – say – the French Foreign Legion, am I fighting for Canada, or for France (though technically the Legionnaires fight for the Legion, which in turn fights for France; Foreign Legion culture dictates Legionnaires are loyal to the Legion)?

There is no doubt that the veteran served with honour, as the medals on his chest in the article’s photo says it all. However when it comes to veteran status, it can be difficult as veteran plates are generally reserved for those who had a direct/indirect impact on a particular country – Vietnam certainly was not a war Canada was involved in, and there was no real consequence when South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnam forces. Canada continues to drive along as it always has, unaffected by events in Southeast Asia at the time. Now a reply to the article in the comments section pointed out that the province of Alberta used to only issue veteran plates to regular force veterans – full time soldiers, police officers were included under this category. While this left a ton of reservist (part time) soldiers out of the pool, the federal government eventually stepped in to change this so that reservists would be eligible for the license plate. That scenario right there is a clear “action needed” scenario as the reservists served Canada, and should therefore be eligible for the veteran plate. However I am inclined to agree with the Legion on this decision in that Vietnam veterans should not be eligible for the license plate – or veterans of foreign armies who were not Canada’s wartime allies – because their service was neither in the interest of Canada, nor was it in the interest of preserving Canadian sovereignty.

Now there can be arguments over preserving a nation indirectly, but we would then open the flood gates to enable our former enemies to claim veteran status: “I served in the Italian Army in 1941” one man would say, “I did so for 18 years, therefore I am a veteran, and should be eligible for a veteran plate! I only served with the Italians because I thought it would help Canada!” Veteran plates are there to honour those who served Canada, and preserved Canadian interests, and not those who fought either for another nation whose interests were not shared with Canada, or who fought for our enemies. The man wanted action, and he said so himself in the article that “he was 19 years old when he signed up with the US military, as he did not want to linger on the Canadian army’s year-long waiting list.” Well good sir, you should have waited patiently for that year until the Canadian Forces calls you to serve: it was entirely voluntary, and you would directly – without a doubt in your mind – be serving Canada and her interests.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-veteran-told-to-return-vet-s-licence-plate-1.2553009

The Telegraphed Gazette. 11 March 2014.

Hello folks and welcome to the Telegraphed Gazette for the 11th of March 2014, in the headlines today: Pauline Marois says independent Quebec will have no borders or tolls, the new appointment of Pierre Karl Peladeau to the Parti Quebecois is seen as a double-edged sword, and average student debt difficult to pay off according to a CBC article. Time to start the show.

 

Marois

Premier Pauline Marois told a reporter at a policy unveil that should Quebec become independent, the country will have no tolls or borders imposed upon tourists. While the article is short, the message remains clear: Marois has not given up on independence. Alright well this is definitely the easiest article I have ever had to comment on: she is a lunatic. Having no borders or tolls imposed, are you insane? Right so not only does she put the safety of the country at risk, but also puts the local government’s coffers at risk as tolls and taxes are missed in favour of a few tourists looking to snap a photo or two? Tolling a highway crossing is not unheard of, and indeed the movement of goods and so forth along a more efficient roadway should also carry a fare in order to pay for that road. Now when it comes to the complete removal of borders and tolls, that is entirely up to her and the supposed “independent Quebec,” but where this falls apart is the fact that the newborn nation will be sharing land crossings with Canada and the United States. End result: Quebec has no borders going in, but coming out will be faced with the Canadian and American customs divisions. This just highlights more of the idiocy that thrives within the PQ government: instead of focusing on things like crumbling bridges and damaged roadways along the major highways in the province, they spill all the federal government money given to them on sovereignty campaigns. Oh the price us Canadians pay for unity: the link to the article is located below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-votes-2014/pauline-marois-says-independent-quebec-would-have-no-borders-or-tolls-1.2568087

Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau was recently announced as a candidate for the Parti Quebecois, setting off a hail of speculation and comments as the new member takes to the campaign trail with the rest of his party. Indeed the appointment of Peladeau signals a – supposedly – separation from the PQ’s traditional support base, namely unions and so forth. Quebec’s largest labour federation the FTQ reports that Peladeau is among the worst employers in the province with a record 14 lockouts. Now little is known on my end of this newly appointed member of the separatist party, but from what the CBC article provides he is a charismatic individual who does not like to take orders and says whatever comes to mind. First thought that pops into my head is: “interesting, so this man will either help or hinder – or do both – the PQ party.” Now this move can be seen as a move to appease the business leaders of the province, and promise them a future in the newly independent Quebec – if there was even one to begin with at that. Yet it still remains unanswered: could the PQ have chosen a better candidate than this unsavory individual of whom will cause the PQ to possibly alienate their main support base? Questions left out in the open as this is a wild card when it comes to politics; the link to the story is located below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/for-the-pq-the-two-edged-sword-that-is-pierre-karl-p%C3%A9ladeau-1.2567512
Alright time to discuss student debt: in a recent article published by the CBC the average student debt in Canada now rests at $25,000. The article investigates a recent graduate from a community college in Nova Scotia who is reportedly to be part of the “average student with debt” population. However where – in my opinion – the article loses its steam is when they mention this lady’s chosen field of study: photojournalism. First she entered university to become a teacher, then she dropped the idea entirely to become a photojournalist. After graduation she met her husband, married (though it was self-catered), and while her husband works to earn a masters degree in history, she works as a photojournalist and freelance photographer, earning just under $28,000 per year before taxes. This right here highlights one important aspect that is causing this rise in debt: choices. People always love to tout: “I have my freedom to choose! No one can tell me otherwise!” Okay fine go ahead, choose, but you must live with the consequences of those choices. Look at the choice of study this girl undertook: photojournalism. Did she research how much photojournalists make in this country? Did she even bother to compare this to other professions, say a editor, or a typesetter? No she did not, and neither did her husband. While it is sad to see the debt around $25,000 per graduate, the sheer amount of graduates from programs such as history, art history, psychology, sociology, photography, and the likes is staggering to say the least. Why did their parents never tell them that post-secondary education is meant to be a means to help build a successful career, and not some joyride that you take for four years to stack up debt? Why did their parents neglect to inform them that there are alternatives, and that you must strike a balance between practical and enjoyable?

frustration

Yes fine go ahead with your freedom of choice, and then realize it was a poor choice, and protest in the streets. This is just disgraceful ladies and gentlemen: if ever any of you are looking into post-secondary, please do the research on the internet for your country of residence to see if the job/profession can earn you enough to pay off the loan, and give you savings to boot. Heck look into military education programs: after all nothing on this earth is free, and there are far worse things – like prostitution – that are used to pay for schooling. Besides the discipline is sorely needed in this day and age, and it will set you above your peers I assure you. The link to this story is located below.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/average-student-debt-difficult-to-pay-off-delays-life-milestones-1.2534974

That concludes the Telegraphed Gazette for the 11th of March 2014. Have a good rest of the day, and I will see you next time.

The Telegraphed Gazette. 6 March 2014

Good day folks and welcome to the Telegraphed Gazette for the 6th of March 2014: in the headlines today, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois states that she will not be participating in the English-language debate, and the Canada Revenue Agency is looking to collect some tax dollars from extra payments such as tips and side jobs.

Premier Marois in Drummondville today stated that she will not be participating in the English-language debate. This comes as the premier has called for the election to take place on the 7th of April 2014. According to the article published on the CBC’s news site, Marois expressed that it would be redundant for her to participate in the English-language debate, citing that she is fully capable of speaking English, and that it would be redundant for her to explain her point of view because it would make her feel uncomfortable, and it will not serve the Anglo Quebecers. The leaders of the province’s other 3 major parties have noted that they are open to the idea of an English-language debate to take place sometime in the near future.

Marois

Right well this is pretty much self-explanatory; Marois wants to appeal to the majority Francophone community in the province of Quebec, and as such she has little interest in winning over the hearts and minds of the Anglophones, or Allophones who reside in the province. Failing to win a majority government the last election, Marois seeks to gather the “will of the majority” – if I be allowed the phrase – so that she may pursue her party’s main goal: independence. Though the thought of a separate Quebec may be hypothetical to some, note that in the past one to two years, Marois has hosted various conferences and campaigns – using federal government money – to promote Quebec sovereignty. Whether or not Marois reverses her decision is entirely up to her, but if the PQ knows what is best for them they will attempt to win the support of all. The link to the story is located below this paragraph.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-votes-2014/pauline-marois-won-t-participate-in-english-debate-1.2562393

 

The Canada Revenue Agency wants waiters/waitresses, as well as freelance graphic designers and similar positions to report their extra income. The article published by the CBC states that the CRA wishes to aim at middle-income earners and tax their unreported income on things such as tips, side jobs, and sales on websites like Craigslist. The CRA estimates that the underground economy in Canada is worth $35 billion from a 2008 estimate, and states that unreported income is still tax evasion. The article also notes that due to the struggling economy people often take on sporadic work, as well as mentioning that young people tend to aim for loosely structured jobs such as “freelance graphic designer, artisanal baker, etc” (CBC, 2014). With the economy as it is, the lure of non-traceable income is everywhere.

Right well this one is a bit of a tough nut to crack because on one side they are not entirely wrong and out of place to ask for people to report all of their income; after all a country functions only when every piece works together. However on the flip side, non-traceable income such as tips, or painting services hosted online do help supplement income for those looking to just get by. The problem here is that a lot of servers at restaurants are paid below minimum wage because the province(s) they work in state in their legislation that it is perfectly legal to pay a worker one to two dollars below minimum wage because they are expected to make that up in tips – this is particularly the case in British Columbia where waiting tables can earn you about $8.50 an hour depending on whether the employer is willing to pay you up to minimum wage or not. The sad truth with this is while it is well within the right of the CRA to tax all sources of income so that services such as health care and municipal sanitation are given the resources needed to function, people – especially young people – will look to keep as much of their tips as possible because they earn so little to begin with. Yet there are low-income subsidization programs in place where a low-income earner can receive some financial support from the government – that is if they report their taxes. Whether or not the individual sees this program as a benefit or a disadvantage is entirely up to them. The link to this article is located below this paragraph.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/taxes/tax-agency-targeting-middle-income-tax-cheats-1.2499725

This concludes the Telegraphed Gazette for the 6th of March 2014. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.