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Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything with my WordPress blog. I’ve been so busy lately that my time on the computer is really only limited to working on projects and responding to email. I haven’t even gotten around to doing some of the things I’ve been meaning to do.Freelance Work

On Monday, I purchased the first game I’m reviewing and spent the last week playing through it, taking notes, and everything else needed to review it. I’m pretty satisfied with my review process but, like everything else, I’ll revise my method as I continue.

I spent a lot of my time this time around just taking notes on anything that popped up. I’ll revise that into a different approach for next time and note things in steps: Controls/Interface first, Story next, Graphics/Sound/Overall Polish last. Doing it this way will give me time to focus on the first thing you’ll notice when you play (besides graphics, which is how it plays), so on and so forth. We’ll see how that method works and revise it accordingly.

I feared that I wouldn’t have any time when I started doing freelance work but I find that there are more hours in my day than before. I think it’s mainly because I cut out all of the fat and stay focused on my projects, instead of drifting off and doing random things. I may be able to take on a few more freelance projects as I get further into freelancing as a career.

Comic Books

I’ve also been hard at work on my comic book series. I don’t know whether to say they’re comics or graphic novels or what have you but… visual storybook is too cumbersome. Whatever you want to call them, I’ve been devoting at least a far chunk of my time to writing.

Awhile back I decided to abandon writing out the panels and focus strictly on the dialogue. Once the dialogue is done, I’ll go back and do the panels. Thus far, Chapter 1 is complete and I’m taking a short break to let it mature. I’ll come back to it and revise what I’ve written and start fleshing out the panels the rest of the way.

This is definitely a story I’ll have to do in chunks, though, because of how large it is. I’d like to do 2 chapters per book (if it’s a graphic novel), as the first chapter in the arc will be the “gear up” and the second will be the climax. Either way, nothing will be set in stone or decided until I snag an artist interested in drawing for me… and that won’t happen until at least the second chapter is finished and ready to be paneled.

Other Projects

At the moment, I’m waiting on responses on “Ascendant Dream”, my first Crystalline Beauty novel. Until then, I’m not doing anything major with the series. Jen Lightfoot is working on Randel Gaylin’s portrait and I’m excited to see how that turns out. I might make some Emeraldwind wallpapers or icons.

I have a few short stories that I’m interested in writing and now that I’m done with the first chapter of the E.N.T.I.T.Y.O.X1 series, I’ll finish two of those before working on anything else. I’m pretty excited about them and I’m considering submitting them to magazines and podcasts, in the hopes of making a small bit of cash and getting some exposure. Of course, sharing the story is the ultimate ambition, but who wants to talk about that when FAME and FORTUNE are in the picture?

Other Real Life Matters

Taxes, taxes, taxes. I’m probably not getting as much back as I’d like to this year, unfortunately. I wasn’t really letting Uncle Sam have anymore than I’d let him take from me. I needed that money, and it helped us out a lot. I am excited about the rebate though. If it comes early enough, I might be able to start working on my office with some of the money.

I need to get around to actually selling this stuff that’s sitting in my storage area. I already photographed it and researched some of it… I just haven’t had any time to actually set up a craigslist listing for any of it. Not enough hours in the day and too many people/things that want my full attention for hours at a time. Maybe sometime this week I can whittle this list down without adding anything else to it.

Other than that, there’s not much else going on. Just trying to stay as productive as possible and not lose my mind. Well, I’m off to work on my review.

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It’s been a good MacWorld this year. Nothing as mind-blowing as the iPhone, but, really, what would beat the iPhone announcement other than Apple saying that they were slashing the prices of all of their products by 75%. No, nothing will beat the iPhone announcement because that was industry changing. However, don’t get confused and think that this MacWorld wasn’t still phenomenal, because it was.

Steve Jobs’s keynote speech is always the centerpiece to MacWorld and it’s famous for it’s “One More Thing” hook. (Though, truth be told, that isn’t always incorporated into the keynote) The fervor for the keynote had built into a frenzy by the night before, with all of the rumors flowing out of such prestigious (and often times right) sites like  MacWorld and MacRumors. Fortunately, this means that zealots couldn’t sleep in anticipation of the coming events… unfortunately, it means that by the time everything had been revealed, there wasn’t a “megaton” announcement because we already knew what was coming. But we were still happy with what was showcased.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the festivities and I was asleep during the keynote, so I had to get my news at the same time as everyone else. For that reason, I’m a bit behind in posting this. I’ll give a run down of all the most important items, however. Two of these items I’ll be purchasing myself relatively soon.

Time Capsule:  This is one of those items that should have a “No, duh” tag attached to it. Not that someone hasn’t thought of this before (and I’m certain with some searching you could find an equivalent) but it’s amazing that it’s taken this long to get an integrated router/hard drive solution for the average user. It’s a fully functional Airport Extreme Base Station (router) with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA HDD inside. It has 3 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired LAN, a single Gigabit Ethernet for your modem, and a USB port for additional external HDDs or printers. Purchase a low cost USB2.0 Hub and you’re in business with a “server farm”. What’s more is that it sports Draft N wireless protocols as well as the standard A/B/G. It also has two frequency bands, 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz. Like I said, it’s a full-fledged router with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA hard drive all in one.

iPhone/iPod Touch Upgrades: iPhone got a software update today. Included in the package, for free, are Google Maps with Location, Webclips, Chapter Options and Language Capability in iPod mode, and Multi-chat SMS. Great features that, admittedly, should have shipped with the phone but it’s great that iPhone users are getting this for free. iPod Touch is also getting an upgrade but it’ll set you back an additional $20.00. There are legal reasons for this, so don’t pout too much. Your new applications are Mail, Stocks, Notes, Weather, and Maps. Apple will also be releasing the iPhone SDK in February, so programmers and fiddlers, start your fingers, there’s apps in these here waters!

iTunes Movie Rental and Apple TV Revamp: One of the BIGGEST announcements today  concerns renting movies from iTunes. iTunes is the defacto place to go for music. Apple is angling to make it the defacto place to go for movies as well. They have managed to wrangle every major studio into their grasp. This is a major victory because it means you won’t be missing out on any movies like you would with another service. Pricing for movie rentals are $2.99 for old releases, $3.99 for new releases, and $4.99 for HD… wait… did I just say HD? You bet your sweet Sally I did. 720p with 5.1 Dolby surround sound. But there’s a catch… HD is only available with the Apple TV.

Oh, that thing… it got a revamp. Now you don’t need a computer to access iTunes. In fact, chances are you’ll want to simply hook it up to your TV and go. You can now browse the store and your library without the need for a computer. If you want to use a computer, be our guest, but it’s no longer a necessity as it was before. The price was also dropped from $299 to $229 for the entry level model. This is one product definitely worth buying into now.

Macbook Air: The biggest moment of the show, however, was reserved for Apple’s new laptop, a sub-notebook affectionately called Macbook Air. For those unfamiliar with sub-notebooks, they are used to fill a niche that really hasn’t been hit before, mostly because of the limitation of consumer level technology. They serve the niche between a PDA and equivalent device and a laptop, with the ease of portability of the former and the functionality of the latter. There have been some good introductions into the market, like the Asus eeePC, but many of these have fallen flat for one reason or another.

With the Macbook Air, Apple is entering the arena with a sleek, stylish sub-notebook that uses the power of OSX but the ease of portability of, say, the iPhone. Not that you can slip it into your pocket, because it would be ridiculous to think such a thing, but it’s a lighter alternative to the Macbook and Macbook Pro series.

Starting at $1799 (which is actually in range and cheaper than some competing sub-notebooks), you can get this beauty. It comes with a single USB2.0 port, micro-DVI, and headphone jack, multi-gesture trackpad, backlit LED display, backlit keyboard, iSight Camera, 80GB 1.8″ hard drive (64 GB SSD optional), and more. It doesn’t come with an optical drive, but in this day and change, who uses their optical drive constantly? If you do need one, you can buy a $99 Superdrive or use the Remote Disk software to let you use one on the same network. It’s that easy.

This sub-notebook isn’t for everyone. It was designed to fill a niche between power and portability. It works perfectly for those folks who already have a great desktop and need a suitable laptop or those students who need something for class but don’t need to go all out with a Macbook Pro. Great little computer for those who need it. Very stylish. Here’s hoping to see future Apple products looking this stylish.

Overall, MacWorld 2008 keynote was great. There’s, of course, many other things to come. Lots of software and lots of hands-on. This is only the beginning.

As a side note, I’ll be picking up the Time Capsule and the Apple TV in the coming six to eight months. I’ve needed a new router for awhile and since I’m diving into the Apple waters with an iMac and a Macbook Pro in the coming couple of months, I could really take advantage of the Draft N technology (especially considering I love to watch streaming media). I also don’t have cable and until cable services let me subscribe a la carte, I won’t. The Apple TV fits this niche since I can stream media from one of my computers to it and I can rent HD movies. It will look great on my HDTV, which currently doesn’t get a lot of HD content since the technology is too expensive and the choices are too limiting (thank god HD-DVD is dying) .

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By the end of this week, I’m going to post up a list (with pictures) of things I’m looking to sell. It’s time to clean house, so we’re getting rid of all the things we can think of that we don’t need or use. These sales are local only, but I may look at doing some shipping for the computer parts. If you’re in the Cincinnati area and you like what you see once I’ve put some things up, send me your phone number so I can give you a call and we can deal.

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It wasn’t until a few years ago that I considered pursuing a writing career outside of novel writing. The idea of journalism had never really appealed to me and even though I did things like give reviews on video games or books I enjoyed, I never actually wrote my reviews beyond the fairly personal and grammatically free variety.

Last year, I got up the courage to actually step into writing as a career. I’d been growing tired of my day to day job and I needed a change. I knew it would be a long time before I could say that writing was my career choice but I also knew that there was no way I would be able  to make writing my career unless I actually put one finger… in front… no… that won’t work. I wouldn’t be able to do it unless I actually sat down and wrote.

Don’t get me wrong, I write every day, and I don’t mean blogs. I work on my novels on a daily basis and I’ve recently started penning my comic book series. I make sure to do a few pages of each a day and if I’m entering that point where I’m a little burned, then I make sure to at least do something related to my art. Sometimes it has nothing to do with my projects but most of the time it does. Any headway is good headway, even if it’s only a little. But this will only take me so far. Both of these avenues take promotion, which I’m not adverse against, and neither of these paths offer a sure-fire way to making a living. There are so many writers these days, it’s almost scary. The amount of informative blogs, self-published novels and comics, and independent and professional screenplays on the market are staggering. It can make someone who is an unpublished but avid writer since the day they could form actual words (and before even that, as I have some books from the 1980s that prove I was at least putting scribbles together on paper for as long as I could remember), such as myself, develop a deep-seated fear that I will never actually make any money with my writing. And that’s a very real possibility.

It dawned on me, however, that there are other ways to make money writing, while, at the same time, working on those projects (novels and comic books in my case) you’ve poured your heart into: freelancing. I’d never considered this route because I knew nothing about it. How did you get work? How did you maintain steady work?  How much were you paid for your pieces? Not to mention the fact that the idea of having my pieces read and critiqued by, perhaps, millions of people was almost too unnerving to think about. But last year, all of that changed.

I was, oddly enough, on Neogaf.com, like I sometimes am during the afternoon, when I happened upon a thread talking about a site that needed video game reviewers and editors. About a month or so before that, I had started getting an itch to “report,” not in the traditional sense, but in the “this is why you don’t/do want to use this product” kind of way. I can’t remember what triggered the itch, but it was there and it wasn’t going away. I looked at my fiancee, told her about the subject of the thread, then agonized over what to say in my application letter. I sent along a sample after responding and asking questions in the thread and waited.

I didn’t get a response back from that website, but there were other websites that were also looking for reviewers, newshounds, and more. I sent applications and samples to these sites and waited.

Less than a month ago, I got a response. It was one of the other sites that had been looking for people. They needed a reviewer and possibly someone to write articles and editorials.  We corresponded back and forth and found that I would be great as a reviewer and doing articles when possible, mostly because of my schedule and my lifestyle.

It was that easy… I suddenly became a freelancer. It’s not permanent and if they don’t like my reviews after a few submissions, they could easily sever ties with me. But I suddenly became a freelancer, in what amounts to the blink of an eye. There wasn’t any fan-fare. I didn’t need a degree in Creative Writing or Journalism. I didn’t even need to rub shoulders with industry bigwigs. I simply needed to send an application letter and a sample. I needed to take that first step. That’s all you ever need to take. I’m glad I’ve taken it… I can’t wait to see where the other steps take me.

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