Anime · Uncategorized

Why I Dropped Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card After the First Episode

I tried to like this, I really did.  I was a huge Card Captor Sakura fan back in the day, when it aired on WB simply as Card Captors.  When I saw there was a new series, and it wasn’t a reboot, and that there was a simudub, I figured I’d check out the first episode sooner rather than later to see if it was a series I’d want to watch the rest of.

 

Sadly, Card Captor Sakura:  Clear Card totally misses the mark for me.  I’m not sure if it’s my nostalgia glasses, or if the show is just disinteresting, but I do feel like there’s some of the magic from the original series lacking in this one.  I liked the old WB dub, but when I thought about it I wasn’t like “Ugh this isn’t like the original dub I grew up with!  Lame”.  I think the new dub is good, and matches the Japanese voices well.  Do I like Sakura being so high pitched?  Not really, but I get that that’s pretty much how she sounds in Japanese.  With that out of the way, what else would make me dislike this series?
I usually watch a show for 4 episodes before dropping it, but this one, I stopped after one.  The first episode was slow paced, but I don’t mind slow paced shows.  The action didn’t happen until the end, but it wasn’t enough to make me hop right on over to episode 2.  So what is it that bugs me so much about this series?

 

Honestly, when it boils down to it, Card Captor Sakura:  Clear Card just doesn’t capture the same magic Card Captor Sakura did.  In my opinion, Clear Card tries to capture the magic the original series did, while not realizing what exactly was so great about the original series.  Sure Card Captor Sakura had cute moments, had slice of life aspects, had magic, but at the end of the day it also was about different aspects of love, how different people dealt with relationships, and without that aspect of the show there, I think Card Captor Sakura:  Clear card just falls into the category of “Generic, fine enough but not interesting magical girl anime”.  Now granted, that’s my opinion about it after watching 1 episode, but I feel if a show can’t grab you after the first one, it isn’t doing its job right.
But what do you think about the show as a whole, was there something about it that kept you watching?  Should I give it another go because it gets better?

Anime · Cartoons · Uncategorized

Why You Should Give RWBY Another Chance if You’ve Dropped it

A group shot of Team RWBY: Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang

 

I watched RWBY a while ago, when volume 3 was the last volume out.  It had gotten my attention enough to give it a shot, but it took a lot of time to get there.  Literally, it was the end of vol. 3 that made me go “Oh, this show is actually interesting now” when volumes 2 and 1 just seemed like a generic hot chicks with swords sudo anime web series, tropy characters and all.
So because of that, I dropped RWBY.  I had watched the first four episodes of volume 4, and there was so little going on I got disinterested.  I was watching it when it aired, and I’m just not a watch an episode one at a time person.  I still would see people talking about how great RWBY was, and a friend told me volumes 4 and 5 were great and they had just watched them.  So I had taken about 2 years off from watching the series, since I was watching volume 4 when it was airing and a volume comes out once a year.

 

And man, waiting and binging volumes 4 and 5 was a great choice.  The show, although I see some people complain about the slower pacing, really reached a depth I didn’t think existed when in volumes 1 and 2 it was nothing but big fighting set pieces.  Volume 4 took the time to slow down, let the aftermath of volume 3 take its toll on the characters, and allowed them to grow, breath, and develop.  When the fights came into the picture, they had weight behind them, because the story had built to that point.  I can’t see the fights, and honestly would love for audio description to be added to the show, because there are huge chunks of just awesome music, no dialogue, and then I have to read the RWBY wiki for transcripts to see what happened in the stretch of the episode that has little dialogue.  They have a lot of show, not tell in the series:  which totally works, not knocking RWBY for doing that.  But those stretches of show not tell have no audio queue’s, and usually just footsteps for a few minutes with flashy sound effects that don’t really tell you what’s going on in the scene.  Like I said, you just have to deduce what happened, or look up what happened via transcripts.
I guess that’s also a big part of why I liked the slower pacing.  Less fights, meant more auditory going on because the characters were talking, and moving the plot along with dialogue.  And then, the fights had weight, and were a liiittle easier to figure out about half of what was going on.  Volumes 4 and 5 were both slower paced, and getting our heroes back together so the overarching bigger plot to take place with every character having grown through their trials in the volumes.
It was just…nice.  No other way to put it.  I felt a connection with the characters I hadn’t felt before, and didn’t see them as “The cool one, the one who’s a tomboy”  Characters that I didn’t even like before had arcs that made me like them.  If for some reason, you were turned off from RWBY volumes 1 through 3, but saw that there was a spark of something there that interested you decently, but not enough to want to continue watching, try watching volumes 4 and 5.  The show really starts there if I’m being honest, the first three seasons just feel like a prologue.
You an RWBY fan?  Did you like it from volume 1, or did it take a while to grow on you.  Would love to hear in the comments!

Cartoons · Uncategorized

Voltron Season 5 Review

So it looks like we’re stuck with this 6 to 7 episode format for a “season” when it comes to Voltron, thanks a lot Netflix.  I totally get why they’re doing it though, they get more content and can spread it out over a few “seasons” and it’s more lucrative for them.  I will say that season 5 fixed the format a little, and gave us a concrete beginning and end to the season, even with its short run time.  But with only 6 episodes to a season, was it enough to make season 5 worth the watch?
Spoilers:  Yep!  Now onto the review~

 

All in all, we were given a pretty solid season.  The character development front was a nice boost from prior seasons, where I feel we had a pretty big focus on plot centric stuff, and a back burner to character growth.  Did season 5 strike the perfect balance between good plot pacing, and good character development? I don’t think Voltron quite hit the mark there.  I find that it has a problem with giving us a plot point, having a few episodes not even remotely related to a certain plot point, and then bam out of the blue hey that plot point came back even though it wasn’t mentioned at all because we were focusing on other stuff.  Like a good example is the whole Shiro plot point from season 3.  We had all of these other plots going, and then hey at the end of the season, remember that Shiro plot?  Here’s how it’s going to go down!  That, along with the Pidge’s Dad plot I feel like just came out of the blue when we were focusing on other, more interesting plot points and characters.  I think it has a lot to do with wanting to have a conclusive “season 5” but come on Netflix, why not just give us 13 episodes so the pacing is a little bit better?

 

But plot pacing aside, I really enjoyed the characters in this season.  The strongest writing in this season was the relationships between Lotor, and the Paladins.  Spoilers ahead, you have been warned!
SO I really enjoy what they’re doing with Lotor in season 5.  He’s the most interesting character by far, just because of how unpredictable he is.  He sides with Team Voltron for self-preservation purposes, but does wind up gaining their trust.  But the real question is, is he manipulating them?  Is he sincere in some aspects of his words, and others not?  Or is he 100 percent on board with helping Team Voltron win the war.  It’s a really interesting dynamic that keeps the viewers on their toes, and even though I’d like Lotor to have genuinely changed sides, I also have a feeling of unease that the other shoe is going to drop as soon as Lotor gets what he wants.  I do believe his feelings towards Allura  are genuine, at least, but I’m just waiting for him to kidnap her, or try and lure her over to his side or something.  Lance in that regard grows immensely, along with his feelings for Allura (to me, at least, I love that ship but LotorXAllura I love too so I really really hope he’s legit).  Lance’s development in this season reached a point that I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the pilot of the Black Lion, just really enjoy how he’s matured over these five seasons.

 

Now the writing isn’t flawless, by any means.  The one thing I’m going to call out with the writing is how predictable it is.  We always know the paladins are going to win, we always know that even if a situation gets dire, they’ll come out on top.  Other than Lotor being more of a neutral chaotic, anyone else who we have heard about and assume is good, we meet and is good.  There was one character in particular that I would have liked to see them do something different with, and had be a secret Zarcon loyalist when they thought he was on their side but alas a missed opportunity and of course he turned out good, because that’s how he was initially presented to us.  I still enjoy the show, but it’s just such a predictable good vs. evil battle, granted with awesome fight scenes in it, but still some diverse character motivations would be nice.

 

So We find out something interesting with Keith in this season as well that I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Was a little bummed he only got one episode, and as of now he isn’t a Voltron paladin, but at least we got to see him a little in the season, even if it was one full episode with him.  But once again his character is developing nicely, so can’t complain.
Voltron season 5 seems like it’s a transitional season towards more heavier material to come in later seasons, it was a lot slower paced and focused more on the characters than anything else.  Since I enjoy character pieces over plot, I liked this season immensely, and can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

Have you seen season 5 of Voltron:  Legendary Defender?  I binged it all in one sitting!  If so, what did you think of the season as a whole?

Uncategorized · Video Games

Happy Valentines Day!

I’m not in the habit of sharing my covers on this blog, because I like it to be more about talking about nerdy things.  But, since this is a nerdy cover, for a non-nerdy holiday, I figured I’d share it for anyone looking for some nerdy love songs to listen to!
I love Final Fantasy, I love this song, and have wanted to do a fandub of it for a while.  So happy I finally bit the bullet and did both this cover, and a fandub!  Definitely going to be doing more in the future, was tons of fun!

 

Hope you all have a great Valentines Day!  Don’t eat yourselves into too much of a sugar coma!

Uncategorized · Video Games

Making My First Game, Update 1

I’m done with the coding part of this little excursion and I’ve learned a lot about making a game during this phase.  Visual Novels aren’t crazy intensive games, but they’re games nevertheless and you go through the same things you would while making a VN’s code as you would a normal game:  Having to troubleshoot code a million times, getting music, art assets, voice acting if you’d like, and all in all, it’s been fun.  It’s definitely something I want, and plan to do again, but this first small game I’m doing has had so many ups and downs, and it’s only been a week and a half of working on it!  But I’m finally at the point where everything that needs to work in my script works, and I can move on to making music, and sending the asset list to my friend who’s doing the art.  Yay!

 

There are so many useful things I’ve learned from this experience.  Like, a lot of things I thought were broken code was me being a derp, and I’m lucky enough to have friends who know the python programming language who can help me out with things.  So I showed my code to my friend, and he helped me so much with figuring out how to organize things more efficiently!  The Ren’py forums are a good resource for asking and getting questions answered, but at the end of the day they’re mostly going off of what Ren’py says to do instead of using knowing python language to make the code a lot more streamlined.  I learned a lot I’m going to take into making other story based games in the future and I wouldn’t have without asking for his help, so yet again another reason why my friends are awesome!

 

 

I’d like to make a list of the road bumps I hit along the way of doing this first coding outing, to both document what I’ve been going thorugh, and to hopefully help anyone who decides to jump into making a visual novel if they happen to stumble on this post!  So I guess this is my development blog post of sorts, for now, because I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes when I have ot add in music, sounds, art, and hopefully finish the game!  It’s a small project, so I’m hoping it won’t take too long…but at the same time, I’m dreadfully nervous that I’ll go to add all of those things and break my code somehow, fingers crossed that doesn’t happen XD

 

Things I learned while coding my first VN:

 

  • Jump statements are probably the most important thing you can use.  There were so many times where I thought my script was broken, only to find I hadn’t set a jump statement to jump to a label that tallies points.  So the logic of the script kept on jumping to the ending that was right after the block of text when I really wanted it to jump to a points tally section to trigger evaluating points, so it could calculate what ending the player would get.  Now I just use jump statements for everything, it makes life so much easier!
  • Organizing your script was so important! There were a lot of times that I was rewriting things, and trying to figure out where I wanted to put what.  If I had organized, and planned my points system, and how I wanted to write my script better, it would have gone smoother.  For me, I know that’s definitely a learning form trying it ordeal, because I wouldn’t have figured out how I wanted to organize it if I hadn’t written it the way I did and went through this hurdle, so really valuable lesson.
  • Make sure all of your points are the value you want them to be! I ekpt on trying to make the bad ending in my game trigger, because I had every menu labeled with the points in a sequential order.  I hadn’t done that on one of the menus – the choice I was making that I thought was the lowest point value was really the middle path for the ok ending, and if I had actually checked that instead of skimming over it thinking the menu was fine, it would have made my life easier.  And on that note…
  • Always check your work! So many things I did were just me not checking every aspect of my code.  After a certain point, I double, and dripple checked everything because that was better than having to comb through the script a bajillion times…which, I had to do anyways because that’s just a fact of coding lol.
  • Another really valuable thing I learned was you don’t always have to use >= statements to evaluate points. On the Ren’py Forum, they always say have your points evaluated with a >= but my friend told me you can totally just evaluate if something it < or > and in my opinion, it just makes the coding make more sense, and skips over a lot of steps for the coding work.  Else statements are really nice in that regard, too!  Instead of having to figure out 3 point values, you can just say “If these two things are false, do this” and it’s nice haha.  Learned that way later, when one of my elif statements was triggering the ok ending every time because I had set it to evaluate the threshold for the bad ending.  So had to change that to just evaluate if it was < something and then use an else statement…and I hope that made sense XD

 

I’m so pumped to be done with the coding section of the game!  Now onto music and sound effects.  I told myself I’d be done with the coding by the end of this week, and I met that goal, so woo!  Of course, I didn’t think all of this troubleshooting would be involved…but live and learn!

 

I’ll keep you guys posted on my next set of progress

Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Uncategorized · Video Games

Making my First Game!

So I downloaded Renpy the middle of last year, learned some basic code, and never did anything with it.  For those of you who don’t know, renpy is a visual novel making engine, and my interest in visual novels got me into an interest in wanting to make visual novels.  But like I said, I just learned some basic code and did nothing else with it, until now.

One of my resolutions I made to myself was to get back into coding, and make a game.  As I said in an earlier post, there are so many visual novels out there that just aren’t accessible to the blind, and are great stories, and I’d love to fill that gap by making VNs that both sighted and blind players can enjoy.  For now, I’m making something really basic, and am a little nervous about actually getting art done, but I’m enjoying the coding process so far!  Of course, the most annoying thing is testing code and seeing it doesn’t work, but after doing a little bit of reading it was easy to pick backup what I had learned earlier to start making my VN.  I’m debating just making it a text adventure, or audio adventure, but right now I’m just working on the coding and am going to hash out sound effects, visuals, and all of that stuff later.  I’m honestly happy I have so many skills, my jill of all tradesness pays off!  Because I’m going to make a few simple tracks of music, and possibly add my own voice acting in there.  Kind of high hopes, and a decent amount of work, but I really want to be done with the coding by the end of next week, and then go from there as far as the other parts of production are concerned.

 

So, how do I like making a visual novel?  It’s really fun!  I love using it as a creative medium, I feel like it’s the best of both worlds:  has good story telling potential, and you can choose to make it all audio, all text, or a combonation of both.  I’m thinking of exploring making an audio adventure in the engine later down the road, because that also would combine my love of sound design and audio mixing.  But for now, I’m enjoying making my cute little slice of life game 🙂

 

I’ll keep you guys posted, and share the VN I’m working on now when it’s done!  I really want to keep myself on a time schedule, because I’d like to churn out this project fast and get not only coding something under my belt, but know what it takes to make a VN under my belt, as well.  It’s been an interesting learning experience, I’m realizing it takes a lot more to make a game then just having an idea you want to make.  Of course my favorite part is the writing, and coming up with ideas on how to make said game, so I’m having tons of fun!

Editorials/Opinion Pieces · Video Games

Let’s Talk About Visual Novel Accessibility, Shall We? An Update

You may remember a while ago I talked about getting into playing visual novels, and how easy it was to tell when one was accessible or not.  Time for an update, because I’ve been trying to play more commercial VNs (think Doki Doki Literature Club, Long Live the Queen) and we’re running into a lot of problems here.

 

When I first got into VNs, I was only playing free ones. Well, I’ve been looking at ones now that are more commercial, have more to them coding wise than the free ones do, and are longer.  They have the same structure as the free ones – text, pictures, choices to make.  Some of them have an RPG element to them, picking a party and doing battles/making a battle formation, which seems really fun…if it were playable.

 

Almost every commercial quality VN I’ve played is inaccessible in some way.  The self-voicing feature can’t be activated at all, or if it is able to be activated, there’s something in the game that it can’t read.  The battle system in one comes to mind in particular, which definitely was a hope dashing experience when I thought I could play a really cool looking game, only to get to the point in the demo where you make your battle formation, choose items, and have absolutely nothing read because you had to drag and drop, or click with the mouse.  Even when navigating with the keyboard, it would make a clicky noise like it was moving to something, but not say what.  If the text is readable when the actual visual novel part of the game is going, then why is it so hard to make the text to speech work when you’re playing with the actual game mechanics?

 

Some VNs read, but the load and save features do not.  I noticed that while playing Blind Love, a visual novel I’m let’s playing on my YouTube Channel.  A visual novel that says on it’s itch.io page that it’s accessible to the blind, where if you didn’t read that on the page, and didn’t know how to activate self-voicing, you’d be out of luck:  it tells you when to activate self-voicing, and how to, after you’ve gone through the naming the character screen.  I’m glad they made a point to have it be accessible to the blind, but seriously?  Just a little more forethought should go into that sequence of events:  Have a narrator, or one of your voice actors say “Press V to activate self-voicing mode” before the title screen even loads up.  In that game, the main menu where it says “Start New Game” “Load Game”, “Quit Game” doesn’t read at all, so you have to just guesstimate where menu items are and hope you picked the right one.  I just decided to save on different files in that to avoid the possibility of not saving, or loading before saving, because saving and loading in it isn’t reading with self-voicing activated either, and it’s frustrating to see a game saying it’s accessible when the menus aren’t.

 

Doki Doki Literature Club doesn’t even allow self-voicing to activate, and that’s the case with all of the commercial, or commercial quality games I’ve played.  I’m enjoying the free ones, but those are usually short test novels for people who are starting ren’py coding and it just doesn’t satisfy my VN itch.

 

 

So I ask:  Why is it so hard to make a text, picture, music medium accessible, especially when ren’py has self-voicing as an option built into the engine?  Is it really so difficult?  Or do developers seriously not know that blind people would want to read their stories.  I’ve contacted a VN developer before, and they were open to adding accessible features to their VN, so I feel like they just don’t know it’s something they can utilize.  In which, it’s up to blind people to contact said developers if they want a change, and see what they can do.  I plan to do this, and I want to branch out into making my own visual novels that are accessible, with cool stuff in it like the commercial ones have, but that’s very far off in the future I feel.  I’d love to see developers put in the effort to do a bit of research, and integrate the self-voicing feature as an option, so blind players can enjoying the story telling of the genre.  I feel like it wouldn’t take much, but it does take making developers aware of the situation, which is something I plan to do in the near future!

 

And that’s an update on VN accessibility.  If you know of some good accessible VN’s, or some good developers to get in contact with, let me know!  I’d love to start a discussion with some devs, and see what we can do.  The only way we’re going to move things in the right direction is by starting a dialogue with game developers!