Story in Games, Part 2

In my last post I spoke about a jewel among gaming, Dragon Age 2, but not all games possess such a mastery of their narrative. While this next series excels in its core mechanics, characters and settings, I can’t help but raise significant concerns over the direction of the storyline. I’m talking about Assassin’s Creed, one of my personal favorite series. I can’t help but think the formula the games have fallen into is going to really hurt its narrative potential in the long run. Bad guy Templar A wants to use precursor artifact to mind-control everyone, you get said artifact and learn a little more about the apocalypse, usually with a few indefensibly hypocritical uses of the apple along the way. Your opponents receive no noteworthy characterization– every Templar is a one-dimensional, manically laughing monster. Just once, I’d like to see a sympathetic Templar. Their goals are not evil: they seek to bring order to the world’s chaos, preventing hate, misery and death, so why is it that the entire organization is filled with absolutely no rational human beings at all?

The assassins themselves only barely maintain a moral high ground. They are controlled by the player, and 90% of the time that means they wantonly murder innocent guards for sport. While this made sense in the first game, where the assassin organization was much more morally bleak, it really fails to hold up as the assassins become more and more one dimensional in their often ridiculously heroic actions. Ezio giving up the artifact to save his girlfriend is a prime example of this kind of noble-minded stupidity. Just how basic and simple does Ubisoft think gamers are, putting a blandly characterized love interest before the fate of the entire world?

How to Read Late into the Night

I don’t know about you, but my parents are always on my case about going to bed early. And with homework, I feel like I never have any time to read.

On a daily basis, I do not suggest the tips I am about to give you. However, if you have a really good book on your nightstand and feel like you could stand to lose a few hours of sleep this blog post should help you a lot.

First of all make a show of going to bed. Get all ready with brushing your teeth, maybe even hum while doing it so your parents know, and get in pj’s.

Next, roll a blanket or towel and put it between the door and the floor so that light cannot escape. I would also recommend a pillow because if your parents decide to pop in for a surprise visit you can say you just tossed it over there.

Finally, if you have a small bedside table light, then I would recommend using that verses the light hanging over the entire room. And if you have a small book light that is even better. Make sure the light you are using is easy to access in case you need to turn it off quickly.

And that’s it! Happy reading to you all and to all a good night

Common Courtesy

 

When I was younger, my parents would always tell me to eat my vegetables, to clean up after myself, and to be respectful. I would usually laugh when they told me that, because it was like second nature to me and I didn’t need to be reminded. I grew up surrounded by people who were generally respectful, and I have only encountered problems on rare occasions.

On another note, I am one of the writers for Issaquah High’s IT Magazine. As a part of the staff, I know how much work goes into creating the magazine for the student body. I know the pressure of meeting deadlines and the ever-dreaded writer’s block. But all of the stress that I may feel during the process becomes worth it the moment that I can hold the magazine in my hands. All of the hard work pays off, and I can’t wait for the student body to read our insightful, entertaining, and sometimes goofy articles.

One thing that is very disheartening to me, however, is when I see the magazine ripped to shreds in the hallways. Last Wednesday, Nov. 23, the staff diligently dawned our T-shirts, and dispersed to our assigned hallways to pass out magazines. As I was walking out of the school after the big crowds had passed, I noticed a pile of magazines that were torn to pieces. The lack of respect in the student–or students–who did this is really disappointing to me. We put a month of work into creating a product that is meant for the students’ enjoyment, we offer it to them for free, and this is what we get in return.

I know that most students are not like this, but I think that it is a good lesson for everyone to be more courteous to the people around them. I am not sure what happened from elementary school until now, but somewhere along the lines, consideration for other people has faded. I know that the abrasive society that the world has become likely has a hand in this behavior, but I hope that our generation can rise above it.

-Kai

Abduction Review

Over Thanksgiving break, I found some free time to lay down and watch a movie. That is something I have not gotten the chance to do in quite some time. As I scrolled through my Netflix Instant Queue list looking for the perfect flick for my mood, I soon found exactly what I was craving. It had everything. Action, love, heartbreak, adventure and most importantly: Taylor Lautner. I decided to watch the movie Abduction. The plot line was a little confusing, but towards the middle I began to put all of the pieces together.

Nathan is an average high school boy. He has been raised by loving parents his entire life, but has been kept under some strict rules like most teenagers. One day, while researching missing children for his Socialogy project, he finds a picture of a boy who looks very similar to him. This realization leads him on a journey where he battles the FBI, CIA, and Serbian gang members all to save himself and of course, the girl next door (actually across the street) who he has loved since middle school.

Although the reviews were not fabulous, I really enjoyed this movie. But, I think the fact that Taylor Lautner, one of the main teen heart throbs in our society today, was in it changed quite a bit for me. The action was an awesome component, especially since Lautner did all of his own stunts.

So, I would say if you are in the mood for a teenage version of the “Bourne Identity” movies with a little bit of a twist this movie is for you. It won’t make you laugh too hard, or cry your eyes out, and you propbably will not relae to any of his problems..but the suspense will keep you at the edge of your seat wanting to figure out what will happen next.

Wacky Wednesday Freewrite

Greetings!

So I last left you with an introduction to freewriting and I hope you’ve found the time to try it out. A lot of the times, freewrites are composed of the whimsical and nonsense things that are going on in our minds. But something really cool to try if you’ve gotten used to freewriting is to never let your pen stop moving. Most likely, you’ll end up with something that makes absolutely no sense and you might ask yourself later what in the world you were thinking, but honestly, that’s the beauty of freewriting. So some things to keep in mind when freewriting are: Don’t Ask, Don’t Ask because I Don’t Know, Don’t Know (in short: DADA, DKDK)

Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my wacky freewrites that plays with double meanings which made it almost flow into a number of different ideas. The end product is kind of difficult to understand but remember: DADA, DKDK! I think it’s great to just experiment with words and use their different meanings to create different interpretations!

DADA DKDK
Down the street
Walking the dog I never
Had I been assertive
Not settling for that Nintendo DS game
Same thing, right?
Hand bigger than
Left the foils in my
Closet Monster
Beware
Be
Wary
of the
Wrath of
Razor-edged paper cuts
into skin
Crawling with spiders on
Bed Sheets
Stained
Red
Nails.

Thanks for coming down the rabbit hole!

-rabbit

Open mic opportunities in the Seattle area

Musicians, listen up. It’s time to get your talent heard. If you’ve always dreamed of performing some of the songs you love to play or even ones you’ve written, you might want to try a local open mic night. They’re not scary, they’re not a big deal – but what they are is fun. Playing at any possible opportunity is the best way to get better at performing live, as you can only learn from experience. Most open mic nights around here are pretty low-key and the audiences are always encouraging and welcoming. Even if you aren’t a performer yourself, consider checking out some of these open mics just for entertainment sometime.

The Black Dog – Wednesdays, 8pm

This open mic is a personal favorite of mine. It’s a little coffee shop in Snoqualmie with a small stage and a piano. The crowd is always very friendly and there’s lots of good talent to see.

Skylark Café – Sundays, 3pm

This West Seattle open mic is usually a 21+ deal, but the last Sunday of each month is open to all ages. Stop by to enjoy some food and hear the talent.

Gypsy Café – ?

This open mic in Fremont is very organized and even provides back-up instrumentation by the owners if you need it. The atmosphere is pretty laid-back and is definitely a fun place to play. However, it appears that the café is currently undergoing a remodel, so it is closed for the time being.

Common Courtesy

 

When I was younger, my parents would always tell me to eat my vegetables, to clean up after myself, and to be respectful. I would usually laugh when they told me that, because it was like second nature to me and I didn’t need to be reminded. I grew up surrounded by people who were generally respectful, and I have only encountered problems on rare occasions.

On another note, I am one of the writers for Issaquah High’s IT Magazine. As a part of the staff, I know how much work goes into creating the magazine for the student body. I know the pressure of meeting deadlines and the ever-dreaded writer’s block. But all of the stress that I may feel during the process becomes worth it the moment that I can hold the magazine in my hands. All of the hard work pays off, and I can’t wait for the student body to read our insightful, entertaining, and sometimes goofy articles.

One thing that is very disheartening to me, however, is when I see the magazine ripped to shreds in the hallways. Last Wednesday, Nov. 23, the staff diligently dawned our T-shirts, and dispersed to our assigned hallways to pass out magazines. As I was walking out of the school after the big crowds had passed, I noticed a pile of magazines that were torn to pieces. The lack of respect in the student–or students–who did this is really disappointing to me. We put a month of work into creating a product that is meant for the students’ enjoyment, we offer it to them for free, and this is what we get in return.

I know that most students are not like this, but I think that it is a good lesson for everyone to be more courteous to the people around them. I am not sure what happened from elementary school until now, but somewhere along the lines, consideration for other people has faded. I know that the abrasive society that the world has become likely has a hand in this behavior, but I hope that our generation can rise above it.

-Kai

 

Lost Baggage

With the holiday season well under way now, and many people traveling back in forth causing a significant amount of traffic at the airports, the chaos can sometimes lead to lost baggage. Losing your baggage can be very annoying, and it can be an ordeal to retrieve the lost baggage as well.

According to a SITA study, 25.8 million bags were damaged, delayed, lost, or stolen in 2011 with 2.5 percent of the bags being lost or stolen. Also the holiday season is more prone to lost baggage than any other time of year. What are some ways to protect yourself from lost baggage in the first place to ensure a more pleasant trip?

1. Booking direct flights to avoid baggage from being lost during the connection flights.

2. Make sure to label all of your bags and include all important information on the travel tags.

3. Check your bags in early to make sure that they go through the entire baggage system so that mistakes are not made when rushing to move them.

4. Keep baggage to a reasonable size so that they are not moved or rerouted.

5. Carry on your luggage when possible to avoid checking in luggage and going through baggage claim.

Israel-Gaza Conflict

Since a recent social media topic has been the Israel-Gaza conflict and US involvement, I thought I would write an article with an overview of the situation and a few of my personal thoughts/comments that I have on the US taking part.

The Israel-Gaza conflict is an ongoing dispute within the long-term Israeli-Palestinian conflict* in the Gaza Strip territory. Palestinian self-defense (aka terrorism) to Israeli military occupation in Gaza has drastically increased in the Gaza territory. The conflict has been going on since the split of the Palestinian Authority* and the Hamas Government in Gaza* in 2006 and the consequent 2007 Battle in Gaza, resulting in the Hamas Government, a UN-defined terrorist government, taking over the Gaza strip. Due to their governmental state and location, Palestinians are feeling hopeless and despaired living with extremely high unemployment rates, high death tolls, poverty, house demolitions as punishment and no freedom of travel due to Israel’s prohibitions, for the Gaza strip is completely surrounded by Israel).

Tired of the “Palestinian self-defense” attacks, Israel launched its military offensive against Gaza on 14 November, marking the latest eruption in a conflict with Palestinian militants which has raged between the two sides for years. The latest violence has left dozens of people dead, many of them civilians, and shows “no sign of ending soon.”

Details of what happened on Nov. 14th:
Israel’s offensive on Gaza began with an air strike that killed the commander of Hamas’s military wing, Ahmed Jabari, who was accused of responsibility for “all terrorist activities against Israel from Gaza” over the past decade. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) subsequently announced the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, which it said was intended to protect Israeli civilians from rockets and mortars fired by militants in Gaza, as well as cripple Hamas’s capability to launch attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation was launched because he could no longer “accept a situation in which Israeli citizens are threatened by the terror of rockets.”  Although Jabari’s killing signaled the start of Israel’s aggression, it was led by outbreaks of deadly cross-border violence which saw Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas’s Qassam Brigades, firing rockets into southern Israel and the Israeli military shooting Gaza and carrying out air strikes. Israel’s Prime Minister has insisted that he is not seeking to end Hamas.

*links lead to Wikipedia definitions.

I’m not 100% sure what the foreign involvement has been like in this Gaza War, but I do know that since about 2009, Israel’s intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by US supplied weapons paid for with US tax dollars.

History has shown us that whenever the US gets involved in anything that happens in the Middle East, they spend lots of US money increasing the already embarrassing deficit and make the situation worse. And yet on November 20th, the United States blocked a U.N. Security Council statement condemning the escalating the conflict.
In my opinion, blocking it was unnecessary, for the UN doesn’t really do anything in the 1s

 place, and blocking a Security Council statement isn’t going to make any changes in the situation. If the U.N is going to get involved at all, they should focus on aiding the citizens of Gaza who in no way want to be associated with the Hamas, and the US should just stay out of it altogether.

Conquer the Rain!

Rainy days can mess up your hair in many ways. For example, it can make your perfectly straightened hair into a puffy mess. You don’t have to come to school with big messy hair; beat the rain by having three must need items! You can look fashionable in the rain without having having to wear a complete rain proof body suit of some kind.

1) You can simply wear a rain jacket!

Just about everyone in Washington has at least one rain jacket, but in case you don’t own one yet, you can buy one just about anywhere. There are a lot of varieties of rain jackets at REI, Sports Authority, the mall, and just about anywhere!

Another jacket that I love to wear in the rain is a trench coat. Trench coats look lovely with just about anything. There are extremely expensive coats like the classic Burberry trench coat, but you can find many other kinds in different stores.

2) Rain Boots!

Protect your feet from the rain and cold! Rain boots are a must in Seattle. It is raining almost every day, even in the cold winters to cool springs. Rain boots are available just about anywhere as well. A popular pair of rain boots is the Hunter Rain boots. These fashionable rain boots are available at Nordstrom or online.

3) A fashionable Umbrella
Umbrellas are even more crucial than rain jackets and rain boots in Seattle. Without an umbrella or rain jacket, you will be soaking wet! Umbrellas are also purchasable just about anywhere.

Do not be conquered by the rain. Instead, beat the rain while being fashionable at the same time.
-Fashion Femme

UW Losing, Yet Rising

The Huskies aren’t exactly off to an ideal start this season. People had high hopes until Terrance Ross went to the Raptors, 8th overall, in the NBA Draft last season. Despite their losing record, (2-3), the Huskies are rising in RPI rankings. RPI stands for Rating Percentage Index, which ranks teams based on their records and its strength of schedule. This is actually one of the tools used for selecting teams into the March Madness tournament. The Huskies rank 19th overall according to TeamRankings.com. They were as low as 213th at one point in this short season. The Huskies aren’t ranked in the top 25 in either the AP or USA Today/Coaches Polls but have a decently high RPI rank. They are ahead of all but two other PAC-12 teams in this system. It’s too bad that so far, this is all the Huskies have going for them.
Citations:
http://www.teamrankings.com/ncb/rpi/
http://seattletimes.com/html/huskymensbasketballblog/2019768278_despite_losses.html

Story in Games, Part One

It’s time to talk about story in games. Time and time again, we have been let down by the medium’s unique ability to deliver an interactive storytelling experience. Even beloved series fall prey to bad writing; it may be the result of the unending trains of sequels or simply a misguided belief that gamers can’t handle complicated, meaningful stories.

An example of a good game storyline is Dragon Age. Though the second in the series was largely reviled by the common gamer across the internet, it received many positive reviews and in my humble opinion, vastly bested its predecessor in terms of creative output and especially characterization. In the original, the characters were basically an extension of the protagonist, rarely giving input to conversations beyond one or two lines. The only meaningful interaction they had with each other was at the beginning and end, between your evil team witch Morrigan and noble knight Allistar.

In the second, the characters will more regularly act on their own initiative. Between Fenris telling the Templars about mages you let escape, Isabela threatening the player if they hurt Merril, and most tellingly of all, Ander’s act of mass murder, (spoiler warning, by the way) the characters come across more as their own people, with their own goals that do not always align with your own. Another stroke of genius was to have the helper characters function as quest givers, allowing you to treat them as friends even if they aren’t in the player character’s party: a feature very lacking in the first.

Israeli Children Damaged by War

One of the most prevalent issues concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict is the deep psychological trauma the children are experiencing. While their parents fight relentlessly, the kids witness violence and warfare, while other children throughout the world run around playgrounds.

 I think that this issue is not given nearly as much attention as it deserves; these kids are becoming immune to the extensive bombing and destruction of their homes, schools, and streets. They are being shaped by this environment, and it will affect their entire lives, even once the conflict is over. Their parent’s war is shaping who they grow up to be, and someday this generation will rule the country. Five year olds – who will someday be making decisions – are becoming war veterans.

Not only are there physical casualties, many children have been scarred to a point where they need extensive therapy. It is unhealthy for a generation to be so used to violence. Israel needs to give this generation sufficient attention and rehabilitation, since we all want to see them grow up to be strong leaders and civilians.

Gluten Free Baguettes

People on a gluten-free diet crave bread. Not just any bread, either. Bread with wheat. Good bread. Crispy, French bread. And now, from the German brand Schar, they can get it, gluten-free.


Some health food stores, such as Whole Foods, carry these hard to find products, and Schar’s bread is amazing. Heat it up in the oven for a few minutes, and it will come out delicious. These baguettes taste just like the glutenous version, and will satisfy your bread cravings. These baguettes come in plastic packaging and can be frozen (so you can buy them in bulk). Two to a pack.