Writers Notebook

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I’ve found myself writing a lot more recently and decided to get a notebook to dedicate to writing. I wanted to transcribe anything I find useful from my previous notebooks. When doing this I found an interesting trend with my writing through the years. This is a 4 year span of notes I’ve been taking. All the tabs represent writing points and exclude things like “Video games I need to beat” lists. The pink tabs are during my time in college 2014-2015. The blue tabs are all after college when I was still figuring out my job. Clearly, this is when I had the most time to write. I actually held back on the tabs here. 2015-2016. The purple tabs are from when I was comfortable and established with my job. As you can see there was a huge drop in writing 2016-2017. And the green tabs are 2017-present(2018 as of writing this). I started using my notebook differently with the most current Moleskine, because of this I ended up having far less in it than I otherwise would have around this time.

Based on the level of consistency with the last 3 I would be on my 5th Moleskine now if I kept up with my previous writing trend. That writing trend being the back half of the notebook being used as a journal. I stopped doing this because I didn’t see the point of keeping a journal. I thought any writing points I needed I can add throughout the notebook. What Ended up happening is I started writing less. Which now is fixed with the dedicated Writers Notebook. I went with the Moleskine large soft cover for my Writers Notebook because I didn’t want too many pages on a subject if I can help it. If you are looking at picking up a Moleskine notebook and having trouble deciding between the soft cover and hard. I personally prefer soft cover. I find it overall nicer but I do find it more difficult to write in on a general basis. That being said if you need to write say standing in a train than I think the softcover it better. You can fold it back on itself and write fairly comfortably.

With a dedicated writers notebook, I found it much easier to work on my writing and blog post, this post included. Its hard to beat the level of convenience you get with having a single reference point. I didn’t organize it in any special way. Just numbered the pages, transcribed any quotes or ideas I had over the years and left a few pages after to expand on. If I fill those pages up ill just leave a small note on what page it continues on. I’ve already found that I’m seeing results in my writing after doing this. Just last night as I was going to bed I came up with some talking points for a project I’m working on. I jumped out of my bed and wrote them down in my Writers Notebook. I’ve already started implementing them into my project today. It’s not the first time I’ve come up with ideas like this but I never got out of bed before to write it down. The lack of having a focal point made me lazy and wander off. I would tell myself ill just remember it. Now I don’t have to.

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Vainglory Review

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Vainglory is a game that shows how mobile gaming should be taken more seriously.

I’ve been meaning to write a review for Vainglory for months now. From the moment I joined The Cube as the App Store game writer, Vainglory was going to be my swan song to mobile gaming. Sadly it was just one of those things that kept getting pushed back for the right “time” and I also pivoted what I wrote about. Simply put I had my Vainglory review on the back burner. But no more.

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Vainglory is a mobile MOBA/ARTS game which has been “perfected for touch” as they put it. I agree. It takes place on a map called “The Halcyon Fold”. It has a single lane with a jungle bellow the lane. You play as one of 3 hero’s vs a group of another 3 Heroes. Like most MOBAs victory is decided by destroying the opponents “Vain Crystal”. (The namesake of the game but basically the Throne or Nexus.) Something different from most MOBAs is your heroes here have one less ability than usual for a total of 2 normal spells and 1 ultimate ability. Unlike most MOBAs that come out nowadays you still have last hitting and on use items. Which is fairly surprising since those are considered aspects from more “hardcore” MOBAs. It all ends up working really well since they kept some things in while streamlining other parts of the game. Overall it feels great and plays fast.

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Heroes are split into 3 roles. Lane, Jungle, and Roam. Lane and jungle are fairly straightforward to anyone who’s played an MOBA before. Lane is best played by hero’s who can poke from a distance and don’t have to commit as much for last hitting or poking the other laner. Junglers rotate around their jungle and sometimes the enemies depending on how ballsy they are looking for gank opportunities. Roam is a more tricky role and debatably the most skill capped. They are usually the leaders of the group and are expected to make the calls on when to go in or out and decide what’s the most important objective. They are a mix between a bruiser or support style hero depending on who you play.

They have a few game types but their main standard MOBA game type (Halcyon Fold) lasts about 20 mins. A decent amount of time but nothing crazy. They also have a few others which will take less time. The fasted game type being “Blitz” which is emphasized for only being just about 5 mins long or less. This is also their newest game type that was added with the latest patch. I prefer the standard game the most but Blitz is the game type that will see the most play from me when on the go. I’ll have 5 mins on the go far more often than 20 mins. Basically, you have options for how long you want to play and how you want to play them.

The cash shop if you ask me is a bit of a mess. Even after getting used to it I feel confused at times with it. You can buy things with either real money or in-game currency. The real money currency is called ICE. The earned in-game currency is called Glory. On top of that, you can also get Opels which is a separate currency that can get you some skins. These special/seasonal skins can only be bought with Opels and not ICE or Glory. There are other skins you can buy with ICE for a fairly big premium or craft with cards. Yes, that’s right another resource that is specific to skins. If you are confused right now reading this don’t worry because I’m confused writing it. You can make skins using these cards and to get these cards you can buy them with either ICE or Glory or break down other cards for guess what? Yes, that’s right another resource called Essence. I’m not going to go any further but I think you got the idea. Hey, Super Evil Megacorp lets try and get it down to 2 maybe 3 currency’s /resources guys. Honestly its getting a little ridiculous.

Aside from the unnecessarily complicated currency/resource system, you have your usual fair of market content. Heroes, Skins, Chests, Account Boosts and so on.

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The game can be played on Android or iOS cell phones or tablets. It comes with customizable control schemes across the board to tweak to your liking and you can also get scaling options for varying screen sizes.

Overall I am genuinely impressed with this game. From a technical standpoint to a gameplay standpoint they nailed it. It plays smoothly and anyplace with an internet connection becomes a LAN party all of a sudden. They make it easy to stay in contact with your friends with the guild and party system. Alone or with other, if you have 5 mins to 20+ there is something to do on Vainglory. I give Vainglory a 4/5. If they fix their shop it would be an easy 5/5.

Ratting: 4/5

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MMOs Are Dead And VR Will Save Them

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MMOs boomed with the success of World of Warcraft. Every company and their mothers thought they were going to be the next big hit MMO and to this day the corpses of games that tried to fight the monster that is World of Warcraft still litter the fields around the giant beast. Not so giant any more mind you but still a monster. I will also go back to WoW. Like an abused wife, I will always find a way to forgive WoW for what it’s done to me. This is because World of Warcraft is my first true virtual home. It is the familiar safe place that may change here and there but at the end of the day I am always connected to it. If I’m playing it or not. But even I do not feel the urge I once did to go back home like I did many times before.

At the bases of why MMOs are not holding their own any more is due to the players. The players have grown, gamers are older now then they ever have been. They have some variation of school, work, or family they have to deal with. They can’t sit down and level for 3 days of active play time anymore. Being a working photographer who I think has much more free time on his hands than most others, even I have to admit I don’t have the time or patience to level and grind in MMOs. The time to results threshold as been met for me and a lot of people. Why play a MMO everyday and constantly be behind and not have fun when you can play a few games of Hearthstone, League of Legends, or Battlefield? Good or bad matched you get to go to bed feeling like you got some work in vs aimlessly grind a few dungeons with teammates who said nothing the whole time.

The MMO space is excellent. It’s still needed and it’s still good. It’s not Dead it just hasn’t adapted yet. Honestly it might not need too. Maybe we all need to just accept that MMOs might not be for us anymore. The problem with that is MMOs are crazy high budget and if the developers aren’t able to make money then the MMO is done for. So MMOs in theory can’t really be niche. It needs a strong thriving player base to exist in one way or another. Which is why you might notice the past year there are a lot less of them being announced. Most of them being from Asia as well, one of the few places where MMOs still kind of work. So how do we fix this problem? Well we can’t really, not the way it is now. The current model is not what people want anymore and the ones that do want it have options that already exist. If you say you like MMOs and there’s not a single MMO you like on the market right now, well I’m sorry to break it to you but you don’t like MMOs.

Where I think the future of MMOs exist is virtually reality. VR is still young and being watched with a close eye by the world but where I think the medium will thrive is the MMO space. Even back when MMOs were young everyone wished for a VRMMO. From The Matrix to Sword Art Online people have wished for open virtual worlds where we can explore without the limitation of a screen. It doesn’t even have to be a great MMO. I’d drop cash money for a VR rig and any needed upgrades for a half decent VRMMO. I think a lot of people would as a well. At least a lot of people like myself who haven’t leapt in yet. Any day now I’m waiting for the announcement of the first VRMMO. Everything stated above is void for the sake of escapism. The need of exploring a new world as close to reality as possible but with the addition of orcs and demons. I might not have time for MMOs now but for the right VRMMO I would make time.

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Elder Scrolls Online Review 2016

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When ESO launched it had its fair share of criticism. I personally really enjoyed it back then but even I have to admit it had its share of bugs and glitches. Goodness was it a mess of a game. I’ve jumped on here and there with little success through the years since it’s launch and noticed steady improvements. I herd more and more from the players about how much better it is now. The overall MMO player base seems to agree for the most part that ESO is one of the better MMOs on the market. I would consider it to be one of the top 3 MMOs on the market right now. The other 2 being World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.

Elder Scrolls Online has revamped its system since launch. It’s smooth and glitch free. It’s gained a bunch of new expansions with solid and varying gameplay mechanics and lastly with the newest update (One Tamriel) it’s removed the need for your level. Your level is still there it’s just not as important as your gear and your skills. Now like Elder Scrolls games should be you can go and explore any location in the game without worry or limitations. You are free to play with newer or more experienced players now regardless of level, gear or skill.

The game plays smoother and the animations are excellent. My sword swings hit with force. The game falls into and action combat style which I personally don’t like for the most part. I personally prefer the classic tab targeting of old or a slightly more hybrid system like we see in Guild Wars 2. That’s being said this is Elder Scrolls we’re talking about and tab targeting just wouldn’t be right here.

If your are a fan of story, adventure and exploration than this is the game for you. All the quests are voice acted. When I say all of them I mean all of them. They all very in the style and story told. Aside from the main story line there are many side quests you will just walk upon and get swept up in. Some are sad some are funny and some are just harsh wake up calls. You will run into a variety of these by the time you hit level 5.

The dungeon content in ESO is some of the best I’ve seen. I would go as far as saying this is some of the best all around PVE and dungeon content I seen since Tera Online. I’m also saying that from the perspective of a PVP player. You got to go the extra mile to get me to enjoy your PVE. I’m just saying its nice to have dungeons content that is actually hard. It’s exciting and focused. Im worried about every pull and satisfied with every kill. Overall Elder Scrolls Online is killing it in the PVE department.

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They are also doing pretty well in the PVP department. If large scale siege PVP is your thing than this is the game for you. It doesn’t have its equivalent of arena or battlegrounds which I think is a missed opportunity to be honest or at least something they should consider down the line. That being said they nailed large scale alliance PVP. Cyrodiil is what they call the area you battle in for PVP. It is located in the very centre of the the world map and it is a solid chunk of it. If you have played Guild Wars 2s World vs World than it is very similar but imagine instead of 4 large maps you have one giant map called Cyrodiil. I would say when it comes to scale, Cyrodiil is as big as all of GW2s WvW maps put together. The swaying large scale battles are excellent and there is even room for solo and smaller groups to make a difference.

There is a hell of a lot of stuff I didn’t cover like the crime system and duelling and much more but just know this here is a good game that has gone back to its roots. It looks like Elder Scrolls, it plays like Elder Scrolls and most importantly it feels like Elder Scrolls. I’m not going to give this game a rating due to the expansive nature of MMOs, instead. I’ll say this. If you want an active game that you can play with your friends at any time, with an extensive universe and excellent questing, PVE and large scale siege PVP than Elder Scrolls Online is the game for you.

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