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Friday roundup. The Coffee Break 24 Feb 2017.

Hello folks,

 

Earlier in the week I published a piece on the Halo Wars 2 story arc, and while my opinion of the game still stands I am slowly warming up to the idea of trying it out later on in time. Recapping what I said, the game has little in the way of cinematic cutscenes unlike the previous title; though the amount of cutscene time is the same between both games with only a few seconds’ difference. The issue I had with Halo Wars 2 is before each mission there was only some dialogue and an in-game: “move into position” cutscene using the gameplay graphics. Halo Wars 1 had a small clip at the beginning of each mission (with a few that did not) but the story was cohesive and if you couldn’t spare the time to play the game through you can still get a good idea of what was going on just by watching the cutscenes.

 

Now the cutscenes in Halo Wars 2 were great, and though presently I am in a spot where I prefer Real Time Tactical games vs Real Time Strategy titles I can honestly say that I am interested in trying out the game when the opportunity presents itself (and excited to see if Halo 6 will mix the two arcs together into a single story). With Cortana commanding the galaxy, the remnants of the UNSC and of the Arbiters’ forces need all the help they can get – what better help than an aging warship and a crew that has absolutely no idea what has happened since they had last seen the galaxy twenty eight years ago.

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Halo 5 Guardians was alright (and this is the same with Halo Wars 2) but I guess this is because I am simply out of fuel with regards to the series. Both games offer a unique experience, but to a veteran of the series for almost ten years it feels like the same old plate of mac and cheese – tasty, but isn’t anything exciting or new. Now were Halo 6 to work the two storylines together, and produce something of a guerrilla war in which the UNSC conducts operations against Cortana and her forces all the while her grip on the galaxy tightens causing various species to revolt against her would be an interesting tale – one that I would be keen to explore further.

 

Sure I was happy to see the UNSC end the war as the top dog, but there is always something appealing about guerrilla warfare compared to conventional warfare where armies of the same strength and capabilities fighting without issues in logistics, supplies, or manpower. Cortana controlling some of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy might help humanity to A. place trust in the Elites who sided with humanity, and B. develop tactics to defeat a superior foe without relying heavily on technological advantages (as an enemy force can easily out-produce, or outpace you in technology). Ending this post here before I go on a rant about UNSC tactics and strategy I am optimistic about the future of the Halo franchise, but this optimism is always sitting beside the phrase: “hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.”

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New keyboard with a smaller shift key… The Coffee Break 13 Dec 2016.

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New machine, and with that comes new tools to use – with that also comes adjustments to new designs. Yes indeed folks I am talking about the smaller Shift-key which is critical for Capitalizing letters, and the button that took its place (the \ key – weird).

 

I dare say that yesterday when I was making up my mind to adopt a new machine to the arsenal that I found the new shift-key design a bit distasteful. Sure I appreciate a larger laptop, more space and the works. Yet what I found myself wondering was whether or not the shift key was too small for regular use, or whether or not I had to use my right hand where the shift-key was larger by comparison. Today I am writing this piece from the new machine while the old machine just sits off to my left, and thus far as long as I slow down a bit to adjust to the new machine’s keyboard layout things seem to work fine. Similar to my old machine, spaced-out keys are a common feature on this new Asus laptop, and it seems to be working well in Windows 10 – working well so far that is, fingers crossed.

 

Keyboard designs seem to have changed in six years since I bought my machine (oh yes folks, six years I have used the same laptop which still runs windows 7), and it just feels different. The shift-key to my left hand isn’t too far off, and it works about as well as one might expect from a machine with this design. Stubborn though I may be when it comes to older models, this new laptop is thus far working out splendidly.

 

Now is this the reason for a lack of content as of late? Sure, but then there is the holiday season and all the weird traditions that come with it – plus there is also the fact that I am dug in on Battlefield 1 and am pouring hours into it in order to get the fullest experience out of the game. The game is fun, and it will continue to be fun so long as the connection is good and the ammo is plentiful. Anyways I am off for the day, thanks for reading and I shall see you next time.

 

Patreon Page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics

Absent for almost a week, wow! The Coffee Break 28 Nov 2016.

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Greetings;

 

Battlefield 1, oh man is it a fun game to sink hours into playing; this title is mostly responsible for a lack of articles over the past week as I have been sinking my time into playing that game – the other culprit for a lack of articles is Titanfall 2.

 

This has got me thinking that I should try and livestream the gameplay for the sake of livestreaming it – who knows I may even be able to turn it into a source of revenue to support my writing habits. Sadly in this day and age with the mountain of rejection letters from various employers and so on I have to look to other means to pay the bills – this is the reason why I have a Patreon page, and this is why you guys keep reading: “support us on Patreon” after every article. Not going to sugar-coat the details, I just want to be able to turn this into something that can support me – maybe not make me into a financial superpower per se, but enough to cover gas, food, and save up a little; I hate to travel so forget that, and games I can wait until they are on sale (ie: the Battlefield 1 Titanfall 2 bundle).

 

Now going into paid work, let us talk about all those Youtubers who are successful on that site; for every famous Youtuber there is a good 50 to 100 out there who has less than 500 subscribers (or hovering just under a thousand – all predictions and estimates by the way) of which Youtube will not give them revenue. Many folks try and make Youtube into a passive income source, and I can’t blame them; stocks are unreliable (another term for investments – something you hear so much about on websites geared towards younger people about the need to invest here and invest there), jobs seem to be few and far between, and the ones you do get are low wage part time gigs that demand odd hours thus cutting you off from going to interviews or attending seminars lest you get fired and even that small amount of money you relied on is gone and you end up penniless thanks to the mountain of bills and their lawyers who can go to court to have your assets seized (bills are related to the company, and the company can afford expensive lawyers while you cannot).

 

Readers, the fact is many of us need to stand on our own two feet, and if that means trying to make a blog successful to just scrape by then so be it – at least I am pouring my time into something meaningful and trying to perfect a craft. Plenty of artists out there struggle to perfect their craft, and should they succeed things work out in the end – false hope or actual working evidence of holding out in order to win a war; you be the judge of that.

 

Moving on, Titanfall 2 seems to have some connection issues on my end. Presently whenever I spin up the game it seems to want to spike in terms of ping; I have no idea whether it is my connection specifically as all other titles like Battlefield 1 and Gears of War work splendidly on my connection even with my computer running and all tabs open with Youtube videos – could be the servers on their end are unstable, but I manage to get kills nonetheless. The ping spikes are just annoying as rubber-banding here and there takes it toll on you, makes you feel frustrated as that kill wall-bounces and mows you down like a hog trapped in a cage – endless frustration that makes the game near unplayable and hence the reason for Battlefield 1’s dominance on the: “most time in” scale (though I really wanted BF 1, and Titanfall 2 was a kind of: “nice to have.”

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Alright that’s about it for today’s coffee break; feel free to check out the blog’s Patreon page if you wish to become a supporter, and I shall see you next time.

 

Patreon Page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics

 

 

I still like Battlefield 1… The Coffee Break 23 Nov 2016.

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Hello folks;

 

Let us be honest here, it’s the bayonets that has me hooked on Battlefield 1. Yes I know the complaints from the more critical analysis crowd: “too much one man army nonsense! Too little realism! Why am I a space marine in world war 1? Where is the teamwork?!” Well from a critical standpoint I tend to agree, the game lacks any sort of authentic interpretation of World War 1; Italian campaign, you are encased in thick plate armour and are using a mounted machine gun to mow down Austro-Hungarian soldiers in the thousands. Moving over to the tank missions, the infantry advance first in the campaign BEFORE the tanks thereby negating the entire reason as to why they were conceptualized and built (good job there folks, way to go for historical accuracy).

 

Yet bayoneting enemy soldiers in BF 1 is a lot like in Gears of War 3 and onwards (retro lancer specifically as a chainsaw bayonet cannot impale an enemy on the end (mechanical difficulties)), you build up distance and charge the enemy and stick them with the bayonet – pretty simple. Due to the relative ease with campaign I opt to bayonet my enemies over shooting them half the time which is kindof allowing me to live out my fantasy of close quarters fighting and gun battles; kind of like how Gears of War 3 and onwards allows me to do just that.

 

Being a game and all, one can argue that it was never meant to be realistic, and you may be right in this regard. While DICE have made it clear that their theme was world war 1, they never promised that the game would be ultra-realistic unlike Verdun where they seek to deliver a pseudo-realistic experience to the player. Right now I have mixed feelings; I know the campaign is utter nonsense, yet I cannot help but enjoy the bayonet action as I lunge at enemy number (I’ve lost count now – too much charging and stabbing) and impale them on the end of my rifle (or shotgun, shotguns have bayonets too). Plus with the Black Friday sale on Xbox Live marketplace I have managed to get both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 for 80.00 CAD – I call that a win, wouldn’t you?

 

Now this of course is the reason behind my lack of writing over the past couple of days. Let us be honest here people, sometimes we just need to gear up, fix bayonets, and charge the enemy positions in a blaze of glory – in Titanfall 2 it is time for us to channel our inner Samurai and mount the Ronin Titan for some good old robot verses robot action; kind of like Power Rangers back in the day, only with less exaggerated movements and more: “stick sword into enemy and finish them off.” Anyways folks I will conclude this piece here before I go on rambling endlessly about nothing – have a good one, check out the Patreon Page to support the war effort, and I shall see you next time.

 

Patreon Page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics

Frrrrrrrriday!!!! The Coffee Break 18 Nov 2016.

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Well here we are folks, Friday – TGIF, right? While you are getting ready for the weekend, let us talk about the phenomenon of Fridays; a note before we go on this will be a simple theory-based discussion on the concept of: “thank god it’s Friday.”

 

Usually workers dread Mondays and love Fridays – the end of the work week and the beginning of a short period of rest and respite (lousy family duties and mandatory outings not withstanding). Though it is nice to see workers get excited for the weekends, I often wonder why is it that workers hate work so much to the point that they always think of time off rather than a healthy mixture of interest for the workplace and enjoyment of time off – is it because they work too many hours for too little pay? Perhaps the workforce feels trapped in a cycle – an endless cycle of work – that prevents them from pursuing their interests outside of work?

 

Naturally you will get some people who just do not want to work at all and want everything, this fact is unavoidable and we see it in modern society. Yet blaming the rest of the work force for the same attitude is like blaming voters of a particular party for the ills of a nation and painting them all with the same brush; not only is it unfair, it is outright degrading as you are declaring that they are incapable of rational thought.

 

One has to look at how the working hours are to get a better picture of what is going on; naturally people want to work in order to make a living (and a better living than living off of government subsidies). Yet sometimes the workers need time off; more time off isn’t a bad thing as while a business is in the slow season they can afford to allow their workers to relax a bit more. Sure the workers may not be earning as much as when they were in peak season, but time is just as valuable as currency.

 

Yet blaming employers entirely isn’t really productive as the workers are also responsible for their current problems. Today we see constant messages of consumption, and while owning interesting and nice things should not be frowned upon there comes a time and place to take stock of what one has and settle with what they have – a sort of: “I don’t need the latest, and my machine is only a couple of years old – good enough.” There are plenty of people out there who spend beyond their means, who strive to live the life of the aristocracy via owning massive estates and horses – they themselves, however, lack the means to achieve said goals. Instead these people live from paycheck to paycheck, without giving a thought into how they are going to grow their earnings using passive income sources – they spend and spend and end up with a pile of bills and a storage locker stuffed full of useless junk.

 

The worker who wants more will end up working more as they strive to achieve a certain economic status; good for some if their goals are realistic, but bad for others if their goals are far beyond their physical and mental capabilities. Sure pushing yourself has its advantages, but have you ever observed a racing horse pushed past its breaking point? The poor beast of burden collapses and the rider is thrown from the saddle; not even the mighty stallion can survive being forced to do something that it cannot achieve ie: the delivery of speed and power instantly and constantly.

 

Sometimes it is best to wait for a sale to happen to buy that new laptop, or look for a cheaper brand of car instead of the luxury models. These companies care little if you default on your house payments, car payments, or rent – they will always get their money, even if it puts you on the street. Why put yourself in that kind of situation where you are forced to work double overtime and live out of your car (if the banks haven’t taken that away yet) – why make life miserable when you had a stable base to begin with? Progress for most must come at a steady pace – rush things and it runs a very high risk of collapse, take too long and you might miss opportunity. Sure I get it, you are impatient for success, but sometimes success wants to take its time, and rushing it will be like rushing into marriage – it ends in a divorce and a lengthy custody battle for the kids (if any).

 

Old video games are just as enjoyable as new ones; hell I am still playing Skyrim all these years later and am not planning on getting the special edition anytime soon – plenty of mods for basic Skyrim to dig through, and I only just installed Script Extender. There is little to no need to feed the useless practice of pre-orders and day one purchases where you will be paying out the rear end for games you may not even like in the end – all because some executive at E3 presented a flashy presentation and got you throwing your hard-earned money (the money you had to force yourself to wake up at 6am and fight through traffic to get, remember?) at them for the product you haven’t even tested or read reviews on.

 

Employers need to give their workers more time off, and workers need to focus on quality of goods rather than quantity – this way the workers will always have enough money, and the employers will have healthy and productive employees who will stick around longer thanks to a well-organized and managed company.

 

Feel free to check out the Patreon if you wish to pledge support; thanks for reading and we shall see you next time.

 

Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics

How to squeeze out time for yourself. The Coffee Break 17 Nov 2016.

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Often we are stuck with our daily routines of work and commuting wondering how on earth do we squeeze out time for ourselves? Indeed I too know the feeling of not enough time and too much to do (or want to do); work is unavoidable lest you end up homeless and penniless, and most jobs demand at least five days a week. There is no way to avoid this cycle, but that does not mean we have to surrender our spare time for the sake of the cycle.

 

First tip on the list is budget your time – pretty straight forward. Alarm clocks (or alarm clock functions) are real handy in helping to keep track of time. Knowing how much time an activity takes can go a long way towards budgeting time in to do other things; sure it may feel rushed, but you can expect to get more done when you know how many minutes it takes to cook that burrito.

 

Second tip is avoid time thieves. Plenty of people out there will often ask you to do this because: “it’s only a small favour.” Well those favours will turn into big favours – the slippery slope argument holds true here. Always fight for your time, avoid doing things for people that have absolutely nothing to do with your end goal – sure it is selfish but if it isn’t a civic duty or a vital function then it isn’t important.

 

Third tip, cutting commute times. Exercise if often associated with the gym, and people fall into the trap of: “a gym is the only place to sweat.” Sure the gym has more equipment, but do you use every single piece out there? Also, how do soldiers train when they do not have access to a fancy gym with 400 lb plates and the fancy squat-thingy that helps them squat, bench and row all in one? Simple, they chop down their equipment to the bare essentials and set up a gym on base – when you deploy you cannot bring an entire gym with you into the theater of operations. Therefore if soldiers can train with minimal equipment in the field, why can’t you train with the same philosophy but at home? That 15-minute commute to the gym could have been spent on a set of planks, push ups, squats, and high jumps – all tossed in with warm up and stretching. Plus you will save money as there is no juice bar at the end to tempt you into spending money – two birds, one stone.

 

Fourth, simple recipes. Cooking is vital for us to eat well, but that doesn’t meant you need to make an oven roast every day. Simple recipes that taste good and give you fuel are all that you need; after all soldiers live off of MREs, and you have access to a kitchen so make use of it. Large quantities to last a few days, and simple yet healthy options are the best way to save time and get a round of Call of Duty in.

 

Fifth, easiest commute route. No need to bob and weave through traffic – throw in a soundtrack and relax. Sure saving time is great, but with the home gym routine and simple meals you will have plenty of time to enjoy yourself at home. Make sure you get home safely via an easy route as getting into a car crash takes up MORE time than if you simply took that extra ten minutes to cross the bridge.

 

Sixth tip, power on the machines you want to use. PCs, consoles and so on require spin up time, and leaving them on all day is only useful if you are installing a massive game via digital distribution. Spin them up so they will be ready when you are ready – otherwise that 45-second spin up time can cause frustration when an update is then listed and you have to follow through.

 

Seventh tip, make sure to sleep. Nothing wastes time more than a tired mind procrastinating. Sleeping well means you can enjoy the time you have rather than wasting it surfing and trying to decide which title to play.

 

Final tip, ensure it works for you. Should something within the routine fail to help you make use of time (ie: it is a time sink) chop it out. Either chop it out or relocate it to a day when you have time to do said activity – nothing worse than running out of time on a particular task.

 

Save time, do more – now CS:GO awaits and it is time for me to depart. Thanks for reading, check out the Patreon page if you wish to pledge support, and we’ll see you next time.

 

Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics

Watching game movies instead of gaming. The Coffee Break 16 Nov 2016.

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Ever wonder why we prefer to watch game movies instead of playing the game itself? Sometimes I ask myself that question, and then I am reminded of how little time I actually have to complete said title so I end up watching the story in order to achieve two things: (1) see if the story is worth checking out, and (2) help me save money so that I can get the game later when the price goes down.

 

Some of you out there might be thinking: “gosh Writer, it’s only 80 dollars (80 for us in Canada – currency differences, remember?).” Yes well 80 dollars for some people is a days’ pay, and I tend to take that into consideration when evaluating whether or not a game is worth buying. Right now the finances on my end are not as flexible as some might want to think; the money cannot be spent on full-price releases or collectors editions and it certainly cannot be spent on games that turn out to be less-than what we expected. Games are not cheap, and even though we can mitigate this with sales and so on, in the end we must pick and choose titles that will give us the most bang for our buck – after all I know plenty of you work jobs you hate in order to pay the rent in that crappy apartment and thus you have little left over for personal luxuries.

 

This is where game movies come into effect; these Youtubers make their living off of game movies and providing commentary and feedback and thus help us make that critical decision of whether to buy the title or not. Developers often fear that if a story is spoiled then the game will not sell – they seem to lack faith in their product. Games such as Sleeping Dogs, and Deus Ex Human Revolution are examples of titles I bought later down the line DESPITE already knowing what happens at the end. Being able to know the outcome enables us to cater our experiences to what we want, and if you are about to say: “Writer, you took away the thrill of the choice!” my response to that is if I wanted something random, I go outside.

 

Gaming as I mentioned in previous articles is to experience freedom, but it is also meant to enable me to explore my fantasies, to tell a story the way I wanted it to go rather than follow a script – we get plenty of that in books and shows where the medium is not interactive. Why can’t I have Miranda from Mass Effect live in Mass Effect 3, and why can’t I have her live to be my one and only? Why do I have to screw up and have her die and then ruin the entire experience for myself? The story told is still the Mass Effect story, but after seeing ALL the outcomes via game movies I can cater the experience to my taste and thus save time in the process – if I get curious down the line I can re-play the game the way I want to and choose Ashley again (yes my first playthrough of Mass Effect 3 was with Ashley).

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There is something special about experiencing the story the way I want to, and being able to save time in the process. Sure gaming is a pastime, but it becomes tedious when it turns into a time sink – where time falls away so fast that we feel like we are no longer in control. Out there in the real world we are seldom in control of things; politics shift, events unfold, work fires us or hires us at low wages, we cannot find our line of work, and so on – we are locked in a cycle that feeds itself and benefits none of us and in that cycle we must find ways to make life worth living. Being free to choose how to play a game can be described as one of those freedoms – exploring new worlds, being the hero for once rather than a nameless grunt because, let’s face it, we are nameless grunts.

 

Perhaps with this piece concluded you will fully understand why I support 100% game movies and their vital service to us the consumer base, perhaps you do not understand, and or perhaps you simply are entrenched in your ways – far be it from me to try and convince you how to spend your money. Ultimately if you wish to spend 180.00 on a collectors edition, or even more to get a statue and not feel cheated when the game turns out to be two hours for a campaign and the multiplayer was slapped together then that is fine – you have the freedom to choose, and I cannot infringe on that freedom. All I can do is put forth a point as to why game movies are a vital service to all of us consumers, and that job is now done. Feel free to check out my Patreon if you wish to support this blog; a dollar a month goes a long way. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time.

 

Patreon Page:

https://www.patreon.com/thoughtsandtopics