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Miraculous Lady Bug and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and the Modern Redemption Arc

I watch a lot of cartoons.  I’m sure anyone who has read this blog can attest to that.  I notice there are a lot of trends happening in recent cartoons, and find it quite interesting to wanted to talk about it.  Modern cartoons have a lot of nuance to them, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I’m not saying this particular theme I’m talking about in this post doesn’t work, but it’s just fascinating to me how certain cartoons execute it, so I wanted to talk about it.
What I’m talking about, is the redemption arc.  In modern cartoons, we see a lot of characters that seem beyond redemption, or characters that it’s obvious will get a redemption arc.  In both instances, it can work, and the two examples of this I want to talk about are from Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and Miraculous Ladybug.  Needless to say, after this point in the post, major major MAJOR spoilers for both shows.

 

The first one I want to talk about is in Miraculous Ladybug.  Specifically, for the character Chloe.  I thought her story arc was super interesting, because it isn’t quite done yet.  We see in season 2, that Ladybug gives her a chance by giving her the Bee Miraculous.  When Master Fu asks Ladybug if that’s the right choice, she replies “Being Ladybug made me a better person, so maybe being Queen Bee will help Chloe”.  I thought this was a really mature way to go about starting a redemption arc, because so many times a bad character just is instantly reformed.  With this, you see that Chloe isn’t even close to a redemption, but it takes someone wanting to give her a chance to reform for her to try.  That being said, in season 3 she completely goes back to her old ways, possibly getting worse, but I’m curious to see what is going to happen in season 4.  Chloe was totally reforming for all of the wrong reasons before:  She was doing so to get her Miraculous, to show Ladybug that she was worth her idol’s time.  After realizing things weren’t going to work the way Chloe wanted to, she just went back to old habits.  She needs to truly want to change herself, and see that her actions have consequences.  Someone willing to give her a chance isn’t enough if she’s not willing to change, and having a cartoon show that to younger audiences I think is a really smart move.  Like I said before, it’s a mature way to frame a seemingly heartless character and give her more depth, while at the same time keeping an antagonist an antagonist until they truly earn said redemption.  And it is something that Chloe needs to earn, because she started off so far away from being a good person that we need to see her gradually change.  Which, once again, we saw glimpses of – it just wasn’t enough for her to overcome all of her inner demons, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen as the story progresses.

 

In Tangled, we have the complete opposite situation.  Cassandra is a huge character in the series, and at the end of season 2, she betrays Rapunzel for her own ends and desires.  Now I wish we would have gotten a liiiittle more of her shown in season 3, but still there was enough to see her inner turmoil.  Her feelings towards Rapunzel weren’t invalid, but she wasn’t willing to acknowledge her own shortcomings in what happened either.  She wanted to prove she was more than what others saw in her, but she had no idea what she truly wanted to do in her life, or how to achieve it.  So as soon as she had a “chance” to prove herself, she tried.  When she realized that she was never going to get what she wanted through the means she tried to use, and actually had a heart to heart talk with Rapunzel, they both realized that perhaps they were going about the situation the wrong way and were able to part amicably at series end.

 

In this scenario, we also get to see Cassandra throughout the entire series, and her character growth.  But opposed to Chloe, Cassandra started out with good intentions, but was lost and hurt by the actions of other characters.  She used her anger to fuel her desires, but still wasn’t sure what exactly her desires were and it was interesting seeing her misdirection.  When the house of cards came tumbling down, she felt like a failure and it took her falling from grace to redeem herself, and realize trying to force what you want on yourself and push away your friends isn’t the answer.

 

Both of these are interesting, because they are both redemption arcs in completely different ways.  Cassandra started out good, lost her way, and found it again.  Chloe never knew what her way was, and is currently trying to find it.  She’s messing up and stumbling through her growth, but so did Cassandra and it took a good friend bringing her back from the brink to redeem her.  Chloe is going to need to see that the world doesn’t revolve around her, and that her actions and words matter and need to change before her inward change can occur.

 

It’s a really good way to show redemption arcs.  A plotted out, methodical series that viewers can track, empathize with, and understand.  It helps people see that people like this may exist in real life, and how to possibly deal with it in their lives.  A lot better than the old version where someone just reforms because the writers want them to, and we see no change whatsoever on screen and we’re just supposed to accept that they’re good now.

 

What do you think about modern redemption arcs?  Are some well done, others done poorly?  Some shows do too many of them?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

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September 2019 Update

Hi guys!  It’s been a while.  I wanted to write an update post because well, in all honesty, I’ve missed writing this blog and want to get back into it again.  The biggest reason why I stopped was I was working a lot on my YouTube Channel and music and found doing that, plus trying to find content to post on this blog on a weekly basis, was splitting my focus a bit too much for my liking.  So I decided to focus more on music releases, and when I have something to write about on here, I do.

 

Which, was another factor:  I wasn’t doing a lot of stuff I felt like I could write about.  I don’t know why that popped into my head, but it did and just sort of stopped me from posting over here frequently.  Recently, I’ve been getting back into doing more gaming, and watching more anime, reading more books, having a lot of opinions on things going on in gaming and the like…and just really missed writing over here.

 

I think the biggest thing for me was timing it in a way that I wouldn’t get burned out, so what I’m planning to do is post twice a month, instead of feeling pressured to do a post every week.  I feel that’s the best way for me to work, since that’s what I decided to do on my YouTube Channel, and it lowered my stress levels immensely not feeling like I had to post once a week.  So starting in September, I’m going to be making a blogging come back!

 

As it stands now, I’m going to have two posts up a month on Wednesdays.  I’ve already started writing down a list of articles I want to write, so will churn through those for now and hope I can keep my momentum up with this.  I can’t express how happy it’s made me that people have found posts on this blog even though it’s rather inactive:  I’ve had a few people contact me about gaming accessibility, had some nice discussions about shows with others, and I really want to get that sort of discussion going again, and share how I feel about the various nerdy things that I love.

 

So, tomorrow, I’ll have a post up for you guys that isn’t just an update.  Keep your fingers crossed that I can revitalize this blog!  As always, thank you for reading!

Uncategorized · Video Games

My Experiences with Text to Speech Features on the Playstation 4, and a Basic Run Down of said Features

Hello everyone, it’s been a while!  My long absence is due to a lot of things.  Mainly, I’ve been putting a lot of work into my YouTube Channel – I always have posted video game and anime covers over there, but in the past few months I’ve also started vlogging and been enjoying that thoroughly.  It kind of took over the blogging, since that and vlogging are very similar.  I enjoy both however, and have something to talk about now, so here I am again!  Honestly no clue when I’ll post over here again, so if you like my content, probably subscribe to my YouTube channel for more frequent updates.
I’ve noticed a spike in followers over here, and would like to say thank you!  I’m honestly surprised, considering how long ago my last post has been, but I’m very happy to see you here, nevertheless.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the content here, and will continue to enjoy it, no matter how infrequent I post!

 

I talk about a lot of nerdy things over here.  In fact, my last post was about how awesome the web series RWBY is.  I also talk a lot about gaming over here, but have never actually had a modern console…until now!  Me and my brother both went in on a Playstation 4 recently, and the very first game we bought was for a very specific reason.

 

Team RWBY in a fighting game Team RWBY in a fighting game AHHH AHHH AHHHH!!!!!!
I was so pumped!!!  As soon as I heard that, I was like “We are buying that game”.  It was so funny, because my bro had told me about the BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle trailer and was like “There’s some girl named Ruby in it?” and I just figured it was a new BlazBlue character until I was recommended a RWBY reveal trailer on YouTube, because I haven’t played BlazBlue since Calamity Trigger.  So imagine my surprise when I saw my girl Ruby Rose in a trailer for a fighting game!  And my favorite character Weiss alongside her!  It was so cool!

 

So, that was the first game we got for the console, no contest.  I had been gushing about RWBY to my brother for months, but me saying we needed to get the game because they were in it got him to finally check out the series, and now he’s just as hooked on it as me woooooo.
But that tangent aside, we haven’t had a newer console for years.  Not only that, but text to speech options weren’t even a thing the last console we had.  So, it was a major learning curve setting up PS4 accounts, learning the ropes, and all in all getting back into modern gaming, and how it works.  Thankfully, my Mom is always willing to read things for us just in case we get lost, but I wanted to focus more on the text to speech features in this article, because in all honesty I see them get a lot of flak by the blind community, and as a person coming into the newer era of gaming, I’d like to share my experiences as a new blind user of the text to speech features on the PS4, and of the PS4 in general.

 

Getting Started

 

Getting text to speech up is the tricky part I feel, because there’s no way around needing a sighted person to select the text to speech feature.  You have to go into settings, accessibility, and pick text to speech, and turn it on.  After that, it’s rather smooth sailing, and you can do everything the text to speech has access to.  I will say, I think Sony should set up some sort of feature where you can turn it on at system start, maybe some sort of button command, like apple devices have, but honestly, I’m used to this sort of stuff.  When dealing with PCs, you initially need to have sighted assistance to set up your screen reader, so I don’t see it as that big of a curveball thrown at blind users:  It’s something they’re used to doing, and have probably adapted to getting done easily at this point.

 

What is a little frustrating is setting up your PSN account.  I had to have my Mom walk me through the process, because it reads out pretty much nothing but the keyboard when you’re typing in commands.  You can go do all of these things on the website, I’ve noticed from further investigation (playstation.com) but I find it a lot easier to do all of the setting up on the console.  So pretty much, you need a sighted person to sit down with you and set everything up if you are a brand new Playstation owner, but once you get past that point, you can do pretty much anything that you’d do on the Playstation store, on the web browser.

 

Buying Games, Themes, and DLC

 

 

 

Another minor ding I have to give the text to speech, is that the Playstation store on the console doesn’t read at all.  It’s pretty obvious when text to speech won’t work in an area, because the console will instantly say “Text to speech not available”.  The work around for this, is to buy everything from store.playstation.com, which is so awesome and cool, and something my teenage brain would have never imagined being able to do.  When we first tried to buy BlazBlue on the browser, for some reason it didn’t work:  I have a feeling it had to do with the PS4 not being verified as ours yet to the webstore, because as soon as my Mom bought the game on the console itself, I went and  bought a theme from the PSN store and it worked just fine.  I don’t like the basic theme’s music on the PS4, it was driving me nuts!  So I did some searching for, you guessed it, a RWBY theme and am so happy I did because it changed the music to one of my favorite RWBY songs, so I always wind up humming it while I’m on the menu screen, and can’t wait to explore more avatar’s and themes.

 

Buying from the webstore is just like buying from Amazon or Ebay.  Add the game to your cart, and purchase.  I will highly recommend adding your payment options before purchasing, because it was a huge headache trying to add at checkout and I found myself just linking my paypal before purchasing to save that time, because for me putting in the info at check out wasn’t super accessible.  Some buttons weren’t registering when I clicked on them for some reason or another, but Payment options is a link you can just click at the top of any PS Store page, and add a credit card or link a paypal account easily, so I just did that.

 

Downloading a Game

 

Downloading the game was by far the easiest, and coolest part.  You can download remotely from your web browser, technology is magic!  After purchasing the game, go to your download list.  Click “Download to PS4” and in real time, you get to see your game download to your console.  You need to turn your PS4 on first for it to work, but if you click it without the PS4 on, the browser page just says “Waiting” and once the PS4 gets on, it switches to “downloading” after a bit of time.  The page doesn’t tell you how much time it will take to download, but the PS4’s text to speech does read it out.  If you keep the webpage open while downloading, and the download finishes, “Downloading” changes to “Playable” and I’m sure this is average to people but like I said new console, new hardware to me, super super cool because I  remember having to have my Mom buy eeeeeverything on the Wii Eshop back in the day, so even though this is technically a work around, because you can’t buy on the PS4 itself, I don’t care because it works super well and allows me to download games digitally.  Of course, a physical copy is still an option, but you would still have to have some sort of labeling system for the discs, when…

 

Text To Speech Features on the PlayStation 4 as a Whole

 

The text to speech reads the games in the library, so you can navigate and start them yourself!

Does the PS4 read every section on the console with text to speech?  Not by a long shot.  I’d say it probably reads about 25% of the features on the console.  There are a lot of apps, you can’t use without some work around.  Does it read the things you would need to access the console?  Yes.  For that reason, I think the text to speech suits me fine.  I know this is a topic of contention amongst blind users, but I think the PS4 reads everything you’d need to fully function the basic use of the Playstation.  I know we’re used to having multi media everything on every device nowadays, but at the end of the day, the PS4 is a gaming console.  Can I easily access my game library without sighted assistance because of the text to speech voice?  Yep, no problem.  Can I send messages to friends, and add friends?  Yep, no problem.  Can I adjust most of the settings as far as gaming goes?  Yeah.  One thing I will say is there are some odd areas where the text to speech decides to not be available on some features.  Like I added a friend who sent me a friend request, but when I clicked to see who it was “text to speech wasn’t available” so I had to have my Mom read who it was, and make sure I was on ok so I didn’t accidentally decline said request.  Now, I know there’s a friends section on the Playstation.com website, but I haven’t used it.  Generally though, the web version and console version of the site work generally the same, so I’m sure you’d have no issues just adding friends via the site, since that’s how I changed my avatar.

 

Third party apps are a whole different story, and something I’m not going to hold Sony itself accountable for.  Sony, I’m sure, has made developers aware text to speech is on the console, so they can develop accordingly and it isn’t their job to build accessibility into those apps.  For example,  I was surprised to see Netflix works with text to speech really well.  I haven’t found a way to search, but you can browse through titles, pick them, play/pause, and change the language.  This means you can change it to have audio description and watch on the PS4, which is cool.
I was also surprised to see that both Spotify and YouTube aren’t accessible through apps, though YouTube is accessible through the Internet Browser app on the console.  Spotify is a completely graphical interface, and the work around I found to use it was to sync my account through the desktop app, and that way, I can remotely control my Spotify on my computer, and hear it on the PS4.  It works super well, and I’m honestly fine with this work around because I use Spotify mainly on the computer anyways, no biggy.

So all in all, the text to speech does the basics.  Let’s you open up games, add friends, join parties and communities, check notifications and trophies earned.  Could it do more?  Sure, but we’ll see what comes later down the road now that this feature is on the console and can be worked upon.  Anything can be made better, and I’d rather praise Sony for what it is doing right, then go on a crusade over what they are doing wrong lol.

 

Final Thoughts

 

I’ve only had my Playstation 4 for about a week, so I’m sure I’m no expert on using the console.  There are probably more work arounds, more features I just haven’t used, more hiccups as far as accessibility goes.  But as I said before, does text to speech allow you to play video games easily?  It does, and although watching Netflix, playing YouTube  and Spotify are cool features to have on the thing, I have other devices I can do that more easily on, and would prefer to do it on.  Gotta say it was fun rocking out to some RWBY songs I thought should be in Cross Tag Battle via Spotify while playing, but I was able to do that via remote access.  Anything you’d want to do on the console is doable, with an easy work around, or with the text to speech itself, which honestly I’m impressed Sony had the forethought to make things workable via using the web browser.    Honestly, living my entire life by doing visual things alternatively to be able to experience them, this is a huge step up from what I used to have to do to access console features, and I’m happy to see a huge break through, no matter how big or small.

 

So, if you want to pick up a console and are blind, I’d highly recommend the Playstation 4!  I will say I have no experience with the Xbox 1 and do know they have text to speech features as well, but if I’m being real with you guys, I really don’t care for the exclusives on there and prefer the PS4 ones, and anything I’d want to play on Xbox 1 is on PS4.  Playing games blind is always going to be a hurdle, and I think it’s important to show developers and hardware makers that we are willing to work with them, because just telling them to fix things when they are fixing things gradually just puts an air of negativity out there and doesn’t make them want to collaborate, or help the blind community.
I really hope this very long article helps someone, or interests someone haha.  I hope I made up for my long absence with this article!  Now if you excuse me, I’m off to use my girls against some Blazblue characters, can’t escape from crossing fate, Fight!

 

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!

Uncategorized · Video Games

A Hero’s Call Impressions After 2 Weeks of Playing

I’ve been playing A Hero’s Call on and off for the past two weeks, and I realized something.

 

I don’t like open world games.

 

I went into this RPG expecting it to be something else:  The impression I got from the advertisement of it was a linear, story based RPG, much like a Final Fantasy, Tales of, or any other JRPG series that is heavily based on plot. While there is a plot, it isn’t a heavy one.  It’s one that gets the purpose of the game across:  Explore a ton, find quests, have fun just experiencing the open world format of the game.  It bothered me that the game wasn’t a more story based game, even though there are story points sprinkled in here and there, full blown lore, and interesting enough characters.  Is the writing in the game perfect?  I don’t think so.  I think the story and characters could have been fleshed out a lot more.  Right now they’re rather generic fantasy characters, and although they’re likeable enough, it leaves something to be desired
There are points where you can talk to characters and get more information about them.  I think maybe once, in a specific area?  I’ve tried talking to them at different points of the game and haven’t gotten anything new to speak to them about, other than one character, after I finished one of the major plot centric quests, so perhaps that’s how you get new dialogue.  I got this super cute scene with all of the characters after having every party member which was nice, but once again, the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, and don’t talk to each other much so it fell a little flat.

 

After realizing it was an open world game, I sort of just started to deal with it, embrace it, and explore.  Instead of trying to get the plot centric quests done, I’ve decided to do a lot of smaller quests while doing things to further along the main line quest.  So I’ve done that, and I’m enjoying the game a lot more.  It still has a lot of the flaws in it I mentioned in my first impressions post, but playing this game as an open world game instead of as a linear storytelling RPG is a lot more enjoyable.
That being said, going off of this as an open world RPG, I feel like there needs to be a lot more to explore.  I understand, it was  a new developer, doing an awesome new audio RPG, but why not do a story based game with more linear gameplay, so you don’t have to make huge areas and the like?  There are a lot of maps, but comparing it to mainstream, open world RPGs, it just leaves something to be desired.  There’s a lot of dead space in the maps, as well, and a lot of empty space in town areas that could have been filled with sound effects of people being active there.  Some good examples of this are the tavern, general store, and temple:  all three of them only have the head priest, the store owner, and the tavern and inn owner in them (plus a mercenary for hire in one of the rooms) but why not add some people walking in and out?  Or even just some crowd ambience, so it sounds like you’re walking into a busy tavern at certain times of the day.  Why not have people whispering to themselves about the priests preachings, or the general store owner conversing with a townsperson, or client when entering sometimes.  Just little bits of polish I think could have taken this game over the top, with a little more development time.

 

As I said earlier, sometimes it feels like you’re just wandering somewhere and the character is going no where because of how big the maps are.  With audio only, the footsteps sound like they’re walking in place at times, especially in echoey cavern areas.  If there were some sort of indicator as to whether or not you were moving that wasn’t just footsteps, for derpy people like me who can’t always tell if they’re moving, that would be great.

 

Like I said, open world games just aren’t my thing.  I’m enjoying the game, but given the choice between a game like this, and a game like say, Tales of Symphonia or Final Fantasy VI, I’ll pick up the linear story based game every time.  I like world building, character development, and stories being told that have a clear beginning and end, and I just don’t get that in open world RPGs.  Still fun, but not my cup of tea.

 

I feel it’s important to hold audio game developers to the same standards as other mainstream, or indi developers.  We’ll say indi developers, because they’ll be on the same playing field with the resources available to them.  Audio games will never get the recognition they deserve if they’re just given a pat on the back for existing, and that’s why I’m critiqueing this, just like I would any other RPG I’ve played.  My major critique about the game in general is that it could have had a bit more polish before release, but I get wanting to get the game out for people to play and fixing it with patches later.  A Hero’s Call was only 20 USD, and for the price I think it’s definitely worth buying it, even if it’s just to support the advancement of audio games made to this quality of standard:  it’s amazing what the developers have done with the game, and I’m excited to see what they do next.  Fingers crossed they do an RPG that’s more my style!

 

If you’re playing A Hero’s Call, would love to hear your thoughts on the game!  Do you open world RPG fans find it very enjoyable?