Turning Twenty-one

Turning Twenty-one

There are a number of milestone ages a person hits as they grow older.

When a child turns one, their parents have the opportunity to gleefully celebrate helping their progeny survive a full rotation around the sun.

When a pre-teen turns 13, in the case of my heritage at least, they get to celebrate a religious coming of age with their bar or bat mitzvah.

When one on the edge of ‘true’ adolescence turns 16, the celebration is said to be sweet.

When that now teenager turns 18, they are endowed with the right to drive, to legally consent to sexual endeavors and to both fight and potentially die for their country.

Then, when 21 rolls around, that young adult rounds out their accumulation of privileges by gaining the ability to drink alcohol. Legally, at least.

There are many more from there on out, be it the exit from academia in the mid-20s, the ‘over the hump’ years of 50 plus or the retirement years starting in… Well, whenever people are able to retire in this day and age. But for all intents and purposes, the important milestone we’re here to discuss is 21.

Because today — February 17, 2018 — is the day that I become a 21-year-old man and receive all of the rights promised by that status. Namely, I’ll get my hands on a driver’s license that is facing the right way (and hopefully take a better photo at the DMV while I’m at it), and I’ll be able to go out drinking with my friends.

Granted… I don’t exactly have a huge desire to go out drinking. My close-knit high school friends don’t really either, though I’m sure my college journalism friends will be chomping at the bit looking to get me out to a bar in Downtown Fullerton to celebrate.

I’ll probably try it, in a controlled situation, just because it would seem like a waste not to take advantage of the opportunity. But like I said, I’m not wide-eyed and excited about drinking, nor do I imagine I’ll be doing it very often.

Beyond that, what else do I have to say about turning 21…

Honestly, it doesn’t feel very different from being 20. I know that’s a cliché that’s thrown around a lot, but it’s true. Really it’s just more of the same as far as my day-to-day life goes.

Still doing the semester grind, with an actually quite busy week ahead of me thanks to midterms. I’m working on a few pieces for the Titan, though they’re more on the back burner thanks to the aforementioned tests and such. Gladeo is still giving me work, though the subjects I’m working with are harder to get in touch with then I’d enjoy.

Oh, but in more positive news, the student-run publication California Connections that I’m head editor on finally got its first writing submission last night. Shows that all the work I’ve been doing to get the word out has paid off at least a little bit!

Plus, I’ve been working with our advisor Bonnie Stewart on preparing a presentation that a few of us are going to be giving with her at an upcoming journalism conference based on our work covering Milo Yiannopoulos. I’m also going to be getting an award at that conference, so it’s really exciting!

Though I don’t have much to say about them at this point. Just stay tuned for it, I suppose.

Pretty recently hit 200 posts here on this blog, right around the same time as we hit the second anniversary of this black hole for my thoughts existing. That’s pretty awesome, I think. Sure some of that content might have been a little same-y and formulaic over this last year in particular, but I think I’ve got some stuff working in my head to mix it up more, so we’ll see if things get more abundant from here on out.

To be completely honest, it might not get much more exciting than what I’ve had up to this point until I’m out of school and have less diverse responsibilities weighing my time down, but even then I’m going to keep working at it. I do enjoy having this repository for my thoughts, after all.

That said, I think I’m kind of out of thoughts to deposit for now. I don’t have much to say in this self-congratulatory twenty-first trip around the sun pat-on-the-back of sorts. I’m just excited to see where things go from here.

I’m hoping you’re just as excited to stick with me on the journey! Here’s to another 21, and then some.

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Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 15, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 15, 2018

From here on out, my Entertainment Reporting class assignments are primarily going to be weekly updates on some of the major things that are happening in the video game industry.

I got some of my friends who tend to pay more attention to gaming news aggregates to help out on compiling a small list of some of the big things that happened this week, so my first attempt at doing this is probably going to resemble a listicle more than anything else. Just a few headlines, links and some summary paragraphs. Might wind up changing things later depending on how much I like that, but for now I think it’ll work out pretty well as an easy way for me to approach these.

That said, let’s get on with the news.


Overwatch League Stage one concludes with New York on top

Blizzard’s widely popular first person shooter has been driving the eSports scene lately with a competition between the game’s top teams from all around the world.

Stage one of the tournament ended on Feb. 10 with matches between London’s team and both New York’s and Houston’s teams. London won both games.

However, in the overall standings, New York is on top with 9 wins and only 1 loss. This puts them over the next four teams, who are all tied in their 7 win to 3 loss records, but have different standings overall.

Stage 2 will begin with three matches on Feb. 21. This stage will feature five weeks of play in Blizzard’s Burbank arena.

I’ll admit, I’m not personally a huge Overwatch buff, but I know all of my friends adore it. They certainly aren’t the only ones either, as the game has been hugely popular since it’s release.

I actually wrote on this topic for our Mock Newsroom this week, which took me down a deep dive into the world of competative Overwatch. It’s definitely not a world I travel in often, so it was an interesting experience to say the least. If nothing else, I suppose I like seeing eSports get a lot of traction – which is something I’ll touch on in a bit.


New Nintendo Labo video shows complexity of games

This morning, Nintendo showed off their latest gaming innovation more with a video detailing the first Labo Variety Kit that’s going to come out on April 20.

Labo, for those of you who are unaware, are essentially special holsters for the Nintendo Switch that give players new control schemes to play specific games. The twist is that you create the holsters — called “Toy Cons” in a fun little allusion to the consoles main controllers, the “Joy Cons” — yourself with cardboard cutout sheets and auxiliary pieces like rubber bands in activities reminiscent of arts and crafts projects.

When they were first announced, I know I personally had some concerns regarding how in-depth of an experience these somewhat gimmicky additions to the Switch were going to be, but it seems like they have some promise to be more than just tech demos based on what the newest video shows.

The first Variety Pack will contain five Labo projects: An RC car, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike and a piano.

The RC car seems well thought out, with the Switch’s portable touch screen being used as a controller while the detached Joy Cons control how the car you’ve created moves. Not only does it show how impressive the “HD rumble” tech can be, it also makes use of the Joy Con night vision capable camera to promote self-propelled movement toward certain stimuli.

The fishing rod uses the Switch’s screen to simulate an ocean environment that you drop a fishing line into using a fairly complex looking cardboard fishing rod. The rod has Joy Con holsters in two major areas that allow you to simulate the act of reeling in fish, with the aforementioned HD rumble simulating the feeling of fish tugging on the hook. The game itself looks to be a rather simple fishing simulator, but has a nice and pretty looking aesthetic that I think will make it worth trying at least once.

Personally, I just hope this kind of functionality comes back for games like Animal Crossing and the Legend of Zelda, which are fairly well-known for their fishing side-games.

The house Toy Con seems to be used for the 2018 equivalent of a Tamagotchi. You remember those, right? The little key chains that would grow a creature inside and was later somewhat co-opted by Nintendo for the Pokéwalker in HeartGold and SoulSilver? Hell you don’t have to look very far for the allusion, there’s basically an 8-bit guy similar to Tamagotchi in the background of the house.

There’s a cute amount of interactivity with the house itself, where doing things like shaking the screen will create an earthquake inside, and the Joy Cons can inhabit different plug-in additions for the house that do things like change the time of day or the environment inside.

Oh, also there’s a portal reference in there. Can’t argue with that.

The overall experience seems simple, but there appears to be a good amount of depth with mixing and matching the plug-ins, and I do enjoy the aesthetic. So… We’ll see how good it is in execution.

The motorbike reminds me of one of those arcade cabinet racing games where you sit down in what’s essentially a simulated car or motorcycle. The controls appear to be fairly realistic and more complex than one might expect for a children’s console arts and crafts project, but Mario Kart Wii didn’t exactly handle the “realistic steering” thing well, so I’m reserving judgement on this one. There’s also a sandbox mode where you can create your own open lot driving areas with a scanner using the Joy Con camera and a track by simulating how you’d want to drive in real life.

Those additions are pretty cool, honestly.

Though… Now that I’m thinking about it, why isn’t this a Mario Kart game? More than any other object creation here, I think this one feels the most like a tech demo just in the sense that it seems like exactly what Mario Kart 9 should be. Another thing I hope we’ll see functionality return for later, I suppose.

Finally, the piano looks like a simple version of an actual keyboard you could go out and buy. It even does that thing where you can make each note play a silly sound if you plug-in a Joy Con knob. Apparently you can also make sounds through the vibration of a Joy Con by placing it on different objects, which is interesting… But not necessarily interesting enough to save this from being a little too simple to look that appealing. For me anyway.

My sister will probably love it though. Plus, I did used to mess around on Garage Band a lot… So who knows.

I’ll admit, I’m personally more excited about this technology after watching what Nintendo has planned. Now we just have to wait and see how successful it is on the market.


Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer shows Sora will visit worlds of Toy Story, Monsters Inc.

Now here’s something that’s right up my alley. As much as Monster Hunter World and Dragon Ball FighterZ have given me that mad heartache for a PS4, they likely won’t be as big a system seller as something like Kingdom Hearts 3.

A new trailer for the game came out this week at the D23 Expo, and even if not very much was revealed as far as a release date goes, there was plenty of gameplay shown off to get excited for.

We see through the trailer that Sora, Donald and Goofy will be turned into toy-sized Warriors and into monstrous versions of themselves when the visit the classic Disney and Pixar properties of Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t necessarily have a lot to say about this trailer right now. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks just as beautiful and fun as it has in earlier trailers we’ve seen. Hell, I even have some great things to say about it regarding the return of the dream creatures from Dream Drop Distance and the incredibly transcendent experience of hearing Woody and Buzz talk like they’re in a Japanese anime.

But… This game has been pushed back so much, that not getting a more specific release date than “2018” is disheartening to say the least. Seriously, Kingdom Hearts 2 came out 13 years ago, and Dream Drop Distance came out six years ago.

The last time a major announcement for the game came out was at E3 in 2015. News isn’t exactly out around every corner.

Let’s just hope more comes out at E3 this year.


Twitch garners more viewer traffic in January than CNN, MSNBC

This is arguably the most esoteric thing on this list when compared to more specific game-driven news, but I found it really interesting.

According to Investor’s Business Daily, January 2018 had more people tuned into various gaming channels on the streaming service Twitch than were watching CNN and MSNBC.

It’s fascinating to me that something like this can happen with how enmeshed in our culture things like CNN are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of watching people play video games, so I understand the appeal. But it’s still impressive to see that Twitch had 962,000 average concurrent viewers compared to CNN’s 783,000 and MSNBC’s 885,000.

The article stipulates that a good amount of this attention is coming from popular competitive games like League of Legends and, conveniently enough, the debut of Blizzard’s Overwatch League.

They say over 10 million unique viewers tuned into the League during its first week, which is honestly kind of hard to fathom.

I don’t have much personal insight to throw into this story, I just think the numbers are fascinating and I wanted to share them. If anything, I think this might make for a good entertainment news story, something I have to write soon.

So stay tuned for that.


These four things weren’t the only things that happened in gaming this week, of course.

A remake of Shadow of the Colossus has blown people away with how beautiful it turned out to be.

Leaks suggest that the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane trilogy may be coming to both PC and the Nintendo Switch in the near future.

Bungie’s Destiny 2 had an update called the Crimson Days and Blizzard’s Overwatch characters will be getting new outfits based on the Chinese New Year.

There’s plenty going on out there if you’re looking for it, so keep watching for the latest news. I’ll be back next week with more, so look forward to that!

If you enjoyed this kind of post format, let me know. After all, I’m still trying to work out exactly how I want to do this whole Entertainment Reporting beat notes thing, and there’s a bunch of weeks left in the semester to iron it out.

February 12, 2018 Article Published

So my original plan was to get this little post out before my first two classes of the day. Unfortunately, I wound up having a more stressful morning than anticipated when I realized at about 10 a.m. that I had forgotten to print the assignment that was due in my 11 a.m. class.

Needless to say, after that there was a good amount of time spent running around in the library working to print the assignment out in time. Didn’t really help that the two computers I tried first did not work, which just kind of compounded the stress.

Seriously Pollak Library, I really appreciate your open computers and print options, but I would appreciate them a lot more if everything worked correctly.

But that’s enough complaining for now. After all, anyone who isn’t reading this post while it’s still timely and relevant would even notice the later posting time.

So let’s jump into the meat and potatoes: Academic Senate.

Though I had not expected to go to last Thursday’s meeting until… Well, last Wednesday I believe… It wound up being a relatively straight forward meeting to cover.

After about 45 minutes worth of continuing the conversation started at the body’s last meeting that covered department faculty evaluation committees (a topic I might dive into once more concrete decisions are made), a substantial portion of the time was spent discussing changes to university general education policies.

See, last year CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White put out an Executive Order requiring sweeping changes to general education policy across the system as a means of improving student graduation rates. Some of these mandated changes were widely disapproved, such as the elimination of certain remedial courses, but others seem to have more positive ramifications.

One of those changes was the primary subject of one of the two documents that were amended at the meeting: University Policy Statement 411.202 to be exact. There was a back-and-forth about clarifying the fact that with the Chancellor’s changes, you can take a given upper division course so long as you’ve taken (at a minimum) the “golden four” core competency classes and whatever prerequisites are listed, whereas before you needed to have at least 60 units no matter where you were in terms of preparedness.

The second document, University Policy Statement 411.200, essentially just received a clause saying that all general education courses which haven’t been offered in at least five years must have their GE status taken away. A smaller change, but one that I believe will just make the classification process easier, if I were to postulate on the subject without actually doing any interviewing about it.

Really, that’s about the breadth of what I covered. Governmental meetings are always a little complicated and dry, even at the school-level, so I’m overall I’d say I’m pretty proud of how my piece turned out. Granted, there were some edits I had to make on it that I personally feel detracted from the story a little bit, but that’s just part of the job in the end.

Luckily, online I was able to rectify some of those issues by linking out to all the documents specified in the piece. So check out the story online to see it with some extra research detail involved.

Speaking of, if you want to read the article in its entirety, you can see it here. Or you can check out my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

Seems like Academic Senate is slowly but surely becoming my beat this semester, so we’ll see how that goes going forward.

Falling in love with the Fire Emblem Heroes 2.2.0 Update

Falling in love with the Fire Emblem Heroes 2.2.0 Update

Good god there’s a lot to cover here today. Guess that’s what happens when I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to address these updates as they come out.

Though… I suppose it is nice to be able to get it all out of the way at once rather than having three separate, incomplete posts.

Probably the only problem is the fact that this post is going to be a billion words long if I get to rambling on too much. Since I’m already basically doing that, I’ll zip it and jump into all the Fire Emblem goodness.

I’ll try to keep it brief. Promise.

It’s not going to be brief, is it?



The Version 2.2.0 Update

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Starting off our little marathon of coverage is this big puppy: one new Fire Emblem Heroes update fresh off the presses.

Battle Screen Layout

Probably the most obvious change right off the bat is a brand new battle mode select screen:

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Okay well it isn’t COMPLETELY new or anything. But it’s new enough.

Instead of there being two separate icons for the Tempest Trials and Voting Gauntlets, the two categories have been combined and now appear together in an “events” vortex. This change has cleared room for… Something.

I honestly have no idea what the new upper-left icon is. It looks like the Garden of Eden, or some kind of fountain of power. The name is obscured and we can’t select it yet, but supposedly it’s going to be maps specifically used for Legendary Heroes and their blessed allies.

Which will finally give me a reason to use my blessings.

Also included in the new events vortex is a brand new game mode, which is arguably the most significant addition to this update.

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Tap Battle Game Mode

 

Tap Battling is… Interesting.

Interesting is about the only really good thing I can think to say about them upon first impressions, however.

Let’s break things down.

Opening up the Tap Battle menu, as you can see above, makes everything seem very similar to a Tempest Trial, with the two-week timer ticking down.

However, the similarities stop there. An early noticeable aspect of the game mode is that it fills the same niche as Arena Assault by requiring no stamina, dueling swords or anything to play. You can literally tackle the labyrinth endlessly if you want.

If you do decide to tackle it, there are two game modes to work with:

 

 

As you can see, Casual mode has you tapping the Summoner at the bottom of your phone screen to defeat an enemy when they reach the red square in front of your units, whereas Expert mode requires you to tap the row of the unit that’s under attack.

I enjoy the aesthetic presentation of this mode, if nothing else. Being able to select whatever units you want to bring is an interesting idea as far as letting you choose a team you want to tap with, and it’s cool to see their sprites so close up against a wide-open background for once.

On top of that, even if the enemy placement is rather spaced out and boring on easy difficulty, there is also a hard difficulty that makes tapping along to the rhythm of the song a little more exciting:

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Multiple kinds of units appear in hard difficulty too, as opposed to just sword-wielders on easy.

There are also special boss stages every 20 floors, where you encounter a notable character that attacks each of your unit’s lanes in a set order until you can wipe out their health bar.

 

Each time you beat a level, you’re scored based on how much of a combo streak you keep throughout.

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The Summoner be looking cute in this graphic here. Just sayin.

However, as cute as the Summoner is, he can’t stop the ever creeping mediocrity of the event as a whole. While it all sounds interesting in concept… It frankly becomes dreadfully dull and underutilized in execution.

For one, as you might have noticed before, I said hard mode makes it more enticing to tap along to the song. THE song.

There’s only one song.

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Granted, we only have 40 floors currently, and there are 100 floors all together promised…

But seriously Intelligent Systems? ONE song? In a music-based rhythm game?

I’ll give them props for making each stage have a unique pattern despite going against the same base song… But it’s so painfully boring to just hear the same song over and over again.

Plus, each stage goes through five floors at a time in this game’s logic. With only 40 floors available so far, that means there are eight stages (with more being promised to appear every day). These stages are quick to run through on easier difficulties and feel less like accomplishments than they would have if each stage was a distinct floor to work through by itself.

With that said, I only mentioned them being quick on easier difficulties, right? Hard mode is definitely the way to go then, isn’t it?

Well, hold your hypothetical horses my dear reader.

Hard mode is more engaging, yes. In fact, I quite like the idea of there being options to change game style and difficulty to create a more customizable experience for players… But the game is set up in a way that makes it a superfluous addition.

Clearing each series of floors earns you a reward. However, each stage literally only has one reward.

If you beat a stage on easy, you can’t get a reward for hard. If you beat it in casual mode, you can’t get a reward for expert mode.

Despite this, the four permutations of play style are all given desperate rankings. So for example, if you get an S-rank on Easy/Casual, you don’t get the S-ranking on Hard/Casual. But you get no extra reward for taking the same stages on again other than bragging rights.

Seriously, as far as the informational post put out by Intelligent Systems says, there isn’t any sort of extra reward planned for getting full S-rankings on each permutation. The game simply claims it’s an “easy-to-play battle mode.”

Honestly if I wasn’t such a completionist with my games, I probably wouldn’t bother playing this mode after the first run of it. But I am, so I’m going to hate myself and continue playing it just in case something happens later.

Something just really bugs me about Tap Battles. I feel like there’s an interesting concept under the surface of a boring, empty-feeling game mode.

For example, I like the idea of bringing the units you want, but the choices you make have no impact on your time in-game. I understand why considering each map is specifically timed to go with the song, but there was so much more that could have been done.

Why not make it so a sword unit you bring is super effective against an axe-wielding boss? Have their attacks take away more of the bosses health bar, or something along those lines.

I don’t know… Maybe this will grow on me, but for right now I’d honestly say it’s bland and forgettable. Luckily it will keep updating and provide more rewards to retain interest, but what a missed opportunity.

Speaking of forgotten, however…

Weapon Refinery Update

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A slightly more anticipated part of this update, for me at least, was the addition of new weapons to refine.

Basically, every unit who uses Falchion can now upgrade the legendary sword with various effects. Lucina’s upgraded Falchion grants her buffs to all of her stats when she’s standing next to allies while Marth’s upgraded Falchion buffs his allies when he’s next to them, for example.

The other five units shown in the image above can also now upgrade their basic weapons into character-specific legendary weapons. For units like Raven, Felicia and Caeda, these buffs were hugely needed and welcomed.

Hell, I’ve had a Raven since probably my fifth 5 star summon, and only now am I considering using him.

I’m just hoping Eirika gets an upgrade to her sword soon so I can keep my child growing.

New Special Battle Map Rotations

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This is probably the most interesting update in the bunch, if you ask me.

Two different daily rotations have been added into the Special Maps menu.

The first offers players the chance to fight Grand Hero Battles of the past. Seven of the heroes have apparently been retired to this fate, which will give us the opportunity to take them on whenever we want – if it’s the right date.

I love that idea, since it shows they’re planning on making room for new Grand Hero Battles to be implemented in the near future without having to worry about bringing these back in rarified time slots.

Plus, there are quests available for a full year to get extra things like orbs.

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Who can complain with that?

The second rotation comes in the form of Special Training Maps.

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There are five of these maps with five difficulty settings each that give you rewards when you beat them the first time.

Of course, that means that there will be no rewards remaining after the first week, but they’re apparently built to help train the units that are described in the title. It’s a nice idea, though slightly less so than the Grand Hero Battle rotation if you ask me.

Extra Patch Notes

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The last part of the 2.2.0 update is outlined in full right here. For the most part I don’t have anything to add.

Except… Thank god manaketes don’t have to transform each and every time a fight starts.

I really appreciate that kind of quality of life change.



Love Abounds Summoning Focus

That’s leg one of this marathon done. You all still with me?

Good.

Well then, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day.

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While I’ve been waiting for this holiday-centric summoning banner to arrive for some time now, I’m admittedly not super excited seeing that it centers around the Binding and Blazing Blade heroes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s not Fates- or Awakening-centric again, but these games have easily the third most granted alternate skins.

Maybe if I get the chance to play these original games at some point in the near future, I’ll be a little more caring for the heroes. But until then, let’s see what these new holiday heroes are packing, shall we?

  • LynWind’s Embrace
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    • The interesting thing about this Lyn is the fact that with her addition you can now have a team full of four different Lyns to take down your foes. Okay… Well that’s not the only interesting thing I suppose. I do actually like Lyn’s build. She’s a blue armored mage who can buff the movement of her fellow armored units, gains stats when she’s next to them and make the opponent use their special attacks less. Sounds pretty sweet, especially considering I don’t have any non-footsoldier magic units. Plus, I’ll have two of the game’s four Lyndis clones if I get her.
  • HectorJust Here to Fight
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    • Alright, Hector is… I guess the opposite of interesting, in a sense. His skills are essentially the same as his regular counterpart, just with a buffed up weapon, a new special attack and different armor-benefitting skill. While it isn’t exciting, his original form is still known for being a beast, so I’m pretty interested in going after him as well. Especially since he looks pretty legit in that black outfit of his.
  • LilinaBlush of Youth
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    • Lilina is arguably the unit I would want least on this banner… Even if I just cursed myself into getting her instead of Hector, since they’re the same color. She’s a green mage cavalier, which I already have in my own amazing form. Her skills are sub-par in my opinion despite making her a team leader, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over her. Sorry Lilina.
  • RoyYouthful Gifts
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    • Roy is our second bow knight, behind Lyn funnily enough (it’s a position which I still think should have gone to Neimi, Intelligent Systems. One day soon, I swear). However, he seems to pale in comparison to his friend, with just Death Blow going for him honestly. At least, in my opinion that is all he has going for him. He shares the same weapon skill with Valentine’s Day Lyn and Lilina, but I’m just not super impressed by them I guess.

Eliwood is also here as a special hero, but he’s going to show up in a Tempest Trial later this month.

While I’m not necessarily in love with these heroes as a group, I do actually quite like their overall Shakespearean theme. It’s a neat aesthetic to take on for a Romeo and Juliet callback of sorts.

If I had to pick, I’d say I’m looking out for either Hector or Lyn. Green and Blue orbs abound.

However, because I’m unfortunately not super in love with these lovey dovey heroes, I’m not going to spend a ton of orbs this time around. I had about 100 at the time the banner dropped, so I’m going to be disciplined and only use orbs when I get back up to 100.

If I don’t get anything, I’ll just spend some time building up again using the many, many events all happening at once. That way I’ll also have a ton of orbs around just in case I like whatever is coming in the future.

Now that I’ve discussed my thoughts on the heroes, you know what’s up next.

Story time, lovelies.

Luckily, this time we only have a Paralogue to sort through, not a full chapter. That makes things much easier on my for now.

Plus it opens up the opportunity for more creative level design, in this case fitting in with that Romeo and Juliet style I mentioned before.

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See what I mean? It’s a very medieval-styled festival in my opinion. War of the Roses era stuff.

But how does that cute aesthetic tie a story together?

Well it starts with the Order of Heroes preparing to head out to a festival for Devotion Day. Because the holidays in Fire Emblem can never just be in their natural forms.

Sharena has a very romanticized view of the holiday:

However, her allies have a… Much less romantic view of things.

Classic Anna.

When you arrive in the world, you start to come across the done up heroes, starting with Roy and Lilina.

They’re pretty much just being cute and flirting with each other.

Even if I haven’t played the games they’re in, I can appreciate a cute ship when I see it.

Once you defeat them you come across their parents preparing to take part in the festival.

Frankly, the exchange between them all is hilarious. I really enjoyed this part, so I’ll lay it out in pictures.

I just really like the idea of Hector going up against these people having fun by slaying them with his legendary axe. It’s super great.

Beat the three of them and you arrive next on a battlefield with everyone… Except Roy for some reason. Guess he just gets the shaft here.

Or technically, I suppose it makes sense due to the exchange between Hector and Eliwood.

See, Hector sees his daughter Lilina going around with a gift while spending time with Roy and believes the two are off to get hitched.

He’s not so happy about that…

But Lyn quickly derails the argument.

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And fight you do.

When you defeat all of the holiday heroes, they lament their loss as usual. However, things take a different route when Lilina comes out and gives the gift she’s been carrying around to her father.

Obviously he feels bad knowing that the symbol of what he thought was his daughter growing up and moving away from him was actually her way of getting closer with him.

He also mentions the wonky continuity of Fire Emblem Heroes by talking about how he’s dead in her canon universe and they shouldn’t be together…

But hey.

Video game logic.

Once the heroes move on, Sharena decides to hand out presents to everyone, with her speech to the Summoner calling back to her idea of wanting to reveal her true feelings by suggesting once more that she had a romantic interest in him.

It’s a sweet ending to a sweet diversion in what has become a rather dark story progression.

Even if I don’t have a huge attraction to the holiday heroes, at least I feel nice having gone through the story these developers plotted out.

Now if only I could summon one of these fools so I would feel better about them.


Upcoming Events

You’ve all made it quite far into my little gauntlet of over-embellished written nightmares here, so for this portion I’m going to take it easy on you.

Because I appreciate and love you.img_7248

So many events, so little time.

Most notably, we’ve got another Tempest Trial on the way (with Valentine’s Day Eliwood as the reward, like I said before) and six summoning banners coming out in the next month.

It’ll be a grind to keep up with it all, but I’m as ready for the challenge as ever.


Golly gosh am I tired after all this writing. Wasn’t expecting to stay up so late to do it, but I guess the writing bug really hit me tonight.

I know I basically just said it in the short section above, but I wanted to thank anyone who came this far again for being so willing to put up with my late night rambling text bullshit.

Seriously, this was a massive undertaking that probably had no right to be such a massive undertaking. Could’ve just split it into multiple posts. If I was smart, I probably would have.

But that said, there’s a ton of things to reflect on that I talked about leading up to this. So let me know, what do you think of the 2.2.0 update? Or the new Valentine’s Day summoning focus? Or all the upcoming events?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

But even if not, I hope you all enjoy your weekends. I’ve got a bunch of work to do throughout, but it’s going to be great to rest a little too after this long, arduous week.

Entertainment Reporting Beat Overview

Our first assignment for Comm 436 had my class sent out into the wild, wild west of the internet to compile a list of basic details and possible future stories that we can examine throughout the semester.

The professor recommended we utilize our research as the first piece of our compendium of paying attention to the entertainment world, so I figured I would do just that.

This little explanatory introduction is pretty much just here to frame things. I won’t waste too much more time with it, so that said: Enjoy the minor fruits of my labor.


The California Video Game Industry

Local, Major Players:

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Informational Websites:

Possible Story Ideas:

February 8, 2018 Articles Published

I had another pair of articles published in the Daily Titan today, which is frankly a pattern I’m liking so far this semester. Based on the chart Harrison has been keeping, I’m at the top of the newsroom’s byline record so far, and I’m happy about that.

I’m a little bit busy at the moment between doing some homework and preparing to cover Academic Senate again, so I won’t spend an exorbitant amount of time writing about these recent articles.

For the most part, they should speak for themselves.

The first story holds the very special distinction of being my first ever piece of journalistic writing for a sports desk. Of any paper.

As I’ve mentioned before, part of my experience in Comm 471 will involve trying out different desks through a rotation. Given that sports has been my first stop of the semester, it makes sense that I’d have a story out for the desk eventually.

What I wrote isn’t necessarily anything flashy. It’s a preview for two men’s basketball games happening this weekend, only about 300 words or so and entirely based upon research into some team-related statistics. There aren’t any interviews for the story because it was originally supposed to have quotes siphoned from an interview someone on the sports desk was going to do, but that interview was cancelled.

So… No quotes.

It’s also a little more jargon-y than I had originally written. After all, I’m clearly not a sports writer, so there are bits of terminology I would not have picked up on by myself that our desk editors had to implement so it could be more natural for their regular audience.

Even so, my buddy Jared told me he was really impressed by the information I was able to pull together and said the edits were very minimal, which I’ll take as a big win for my first sports article.

If you want to check that out, you can see it here. For my fellow non-sporting persons out and about, I assure you it’s a short read.

My second article of the day is a little more involved.

At the Academic Senate meeting two weeks ago, one of the subjects brought up by the body’s Graduate Education Committee was their support for a new database being created to house the theses and dissertations written by graduate students.

I thought that sounded interesting, so I started to do some digging.

Very quickly I found myself a bit more over my head than expected. I first spoke with Mark Bilby from the Pollak Library (who, serendipitously, I met last semester at the Pollak Library’s holiday party). We had a 30 minute conversation about open source data repositories.

That was a joy to transcribe, let me tell you.

Perhaps that sounds a little harsh, as Mark was actually a pretty good communicator of technical issues. He’s one of those people that can make something complicated sound sensible for non-technical people, which is something I’ve found with others I talked to for Gladeo. But that’s a story for another day soon.

I then talked with two members of the Office of Graduate Studies, the current interim director (who started about three days before I spoke to him) and faculty mentor Sandra Perez, who is also the Director of the University Honors program.

Retrospectively, I was at fault trying to include information from Dr. Perez considering it’s a bit of a conflict of interest to talk to someone I know in that fairly personal sense. So everything I had included from our talk was cut out. While that’s a shame considering I liked some of the stuff she said, it’s something I can have someone return to in the future now that I know about some discussions she has been a part of.

Even with that said, I think the article turned out really great. It was re-arranged a bit to emphasize some points, but otherwise all of the stuff sans Dr. Perez that I had included was kept, so I feel good about how I was able to take a rather complicated subject and make it easier to understand for a wider audience.

If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, check it out here.

You can also find the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

February 5, 2018 Article Published

This particular article has been a bit of a long time coming at this point.

Remember about a week ago when I was sort of live tweeting about the College Republicans club watch party for the State of the Union address I covered?

Well, the piece I wrote with Brandon about the address is officially live and in print as of today.

There was originally some confusion surrounding the article as I was expecting us to have something written the night of. However, apparently our plan was to go around and get some more reactions from various campus groups regarding what President Trump said.

It would have been nice if Brandon hadn’t forgotten to tell me that night so I didn’t show up to the newsroom, finding it empty… But that’s all water under the bridge now.

If anything, I do agree with the position now that we’re past it, since the story came out much better with some time to marinate.

Not only did we have plenty of reactions from the College Republicans (who had an interesting watch party that featured a number of extra guest appearances, such as Congressional District 39 candidate Andrew Sarega), I also talked with Romarilyn Ralston from Project Rebound about the comments made regarding prison reform and Brandon talked to a member of the Black Student Union to get a more generally left-leaning perspective.

In the end I think the extra opinions definitely made the piece better. I just hope we don’t get a lot of pushback for this coming out so late after the State of the Union… We wrote the bulk of the thing last Wednesday, but wanted to make sure it went through the full wringer before we put it out in the world.

Oh, also it’s worth noting that I took pictures for this event. Not a lot of them wound up getting used for the story proper, but it’s just one recent example of me trying to practice my multimedia skills.

Between that and a few other events I’ve been taking pictures for, I’ve found that I actually kind of enjoy doing photography more than I expected to. It’s weird to say having always categorized myself as such a hardcore print writing specialist, but it’s nice to just zone out and take photos for a while.

I also have way more respect for our photo desk and how much they do now that I have a better grasp on what it’s like.

The watch party was an interesting thing to cover and take photos for in part because there was a photographer from TIME Magazine there as well, apparently doing a longer-form piece on Republican college-level activism in California.

While that’s probably something to leave for another day, I thought it was kinda cool all the same. Even if having two people walking around made the room feel much more cramped than it already was.

With all that said, if you’re interested in reading our article, you can check it out here. But of course, if you want to see my full archive of work, you can look at it over in the archive to the right.

For now I’ve got to go. There’s class in about a half hour and I have three or four other articles on my back burner that I need to finish, so expect to see some more coming out soon.

Happy birthday, Fire Emblem Heroes

Happy birthday, Fire Emblem Heroes

I’m admittedly a day late and a dollar short with this one, considering Heroes came out on February 2, 2017… But I wanted to put out my Comm 436 post first before the week was out, so I figured this would still be relevant as long as the anniversary celebration is still ongoing.

That being said, Fire Emblem Heroes is a year old this weekend! I still distinctly remember the day I started playing, going through the tutorial as I rode down an elevator in College Park while thinking over what I would say for a review. I also remember sitting out in front of the room where my honors history class was held in the basement of the education building, waiting for class to start as I actually wrote the thing.

Though there are a number of things I might not still mesh with from my original examination of the game, I still think it’s worth a read as a in-depth look at the basics for beginners.

It’s a little hard to believe we’re now a full rotation around the sun since then, and frankly I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised that I’m still as hooked on the mobile title that sparked my interest in mobile titles as I was that first day.

Hell, just last night I finally got my very first completely merged unit.

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Good old Cecilia. She and Reinhardt still make a wonderful team.

I don’t plan to go too in-depth with this, it’s mostly just a small congratulations to the game for making it where it is today while still going strong.

Though while I’m here, I also figured I would go over the stuff Intelligent Systems are doing for the anniversary, since there’s a nice amount going on.

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Okay, so I’m probably not going to show off what’s happening so much as I’m just going to show off what they said, given that I probably couldn’t sum it up any better than this.

The great thing about this little anniversary celebration is how the developers know to give us exactly what we want: Orbs.

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50 free orbs right off the bat.

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Daily missions that are going to keep us coming back for a while and give us an extra 50 orbs in the long run.

Add to that a daily log-in bonus and some more Tempest Trial grinding and hoo boy is there a lot to be excited about. Orbs go away in this game pretty fast, after all.

Especially when there are multiple big, special summoning events happening at once.

Yeah… That’s a hell of a cash grab if I’ve ever seen one. Especially considering there seems to be another special banner coming around for Valentine’s Day.

Luckily, I already have all the heroes from the Hero Fest this time around and I got a special unit from the Legendary Banner.

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She’s no Ike, but she is a nice addition to my horde.

I’m not planning on spending any more orbs on these, so hopefully whatever comes down the pipeline is worth the wait.

Speaking of down the pipeline, it’s also probably worth mentioning the big future special hero events that have been happening.

For instance, the second Choose Your Legends event ended recently, and we got a… Well… Expected top choices list.

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Come on guys, I like these characters and all, but I was really banking on you all helping me get Neimi up on the list.

Feh…

Anyway, while I suppose I am looking forward to seeing a Brave Ephraim coming one day, there’s also a more novel event happening as we speak (if you read this the day it comes out, of course).

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Yeah, basically everyone gets a few votes on every hero that has been in the game thus far, and whichever unit wins will be given out for free.

That includes the special holiday heroes, legendary heroes and all the rest.

It’s a cool idea, and I’m pretty interested to see who comes out on top.

If you want to vote for your favorite, the site is here. May the best hero win.

That’s all I have to say for now, however, since I’ve got to go to bed in a hurry. Tomorrow morning (this morning when this is posted because time shenanigans) I’m going to be out in Fullerton helping to cover the homeless situation along the Santa Ana river. Ironically enough a topic I was also enmeshed in about a year ago for Bonnie’s Investigative Reporting class.

Anyway, that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, let me know: What are some of your favorite memories with Fire Emblem Heroes one year in?

Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever forget how this game had become a cementing point that keeps a lot of my high school friend group talking and playing together consistently.

Tell me about some of your favorite things in the comments below! Here’s looking forward to more and more content down the line.

Introducing Communications 436

Introducing Communications 436

It’s been a fairly big week for my journalistic endeavors.

That goes beyond just reporting for the Titan, even if I spent a good amount of time taking pictures and getting content at the College Republicans club watch party for the president’s State of the Union address and later impressed myself by doing three successive interviews in a row on Thursday.

Probably the biggest thing that happened this week was the arrival of my Society of Professional Journalists card.

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I would show the front, but it has my identification number on it, so… Not giving that out.

Joining SPJ has been a long time coming. I meant to earlier, but I’ve always put it off from some combination of being too busy or not wanting to spent the money on membership.

Both admittedly lame excuses in retrospect, but what can I say.

I joined primarily to get in on the SPJ awards not too long ago, but I’ve also had the opportunity to help out with the local CSUF chapter SPJ club by tabling at DiscoverFest throughout the week.

Here’s me with my friend Megan, the president of our SPJ chapter this semester, picture taken by the Daily Titan’s co-illustrator Anita Huor.

Even if I probably burned myself out in the sun and ate one too many Starbursts for my own good, it was a pretty good time. Not only was it a nice opportunity to chat with some of my friends, it was also cool to talk with a couple of people interested in journalism – both print and broadcast.

But I will say it was lame that we were stuck off in a corner, so there weren’t quite as many people to talk with as we expected. Oh well.

While all of that is cool, obviously I’m doing this post for a slightly different reason if the title can be believed.

Which it can, coming from the one who wrote it.

One of the more interesting classes I’m taking this semester is Communications 436: Reporting on the Entertainment Industry. Admittedly a carryover from when I was shooting to be a Lifestyle desk assistant, this class was my main attempt to try covering new things in a field I’m interested in. Video games, movies… All that good stuff.

So far, it has also turned out to be one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken. It’s a three-hour class every Thursday night, where the first half of the class is a lecture into some aspect of the industry and the second half consists of a mock newsroom.

That mock newsroom, though we’ve only done one so far, lives up to the expectations the professor built as helping everything feel like the fastest three-hour class on campus. In essence, he splits the room into two teams and each team has to come up with a number of quick stories and a design for a specific news receptacle to create a finished idealized product in about an hour and a half.

Our first assignment was a newspaper’s Friday entertainment section, for example. He has also suggested there’s going to potentially be magazines, websites, blogs… So on and so forth.

The two teams pick out one editor and one designer, with everyone else serving as staff writers.

For the first mock newsroom, I was the editor, and it was really interesting to take my experience on the Daily Titan and sort of expand that into a taste of complete power over story choice and design, even if it just pertained to a small lab environment.

We put together a pretty sweet little paper too, I might add:

Look at those circles under my eyes… I should really get more sleep.

It wasn’t perfect, and we got some nice critiques, but it was definitely a fun hands-on experience I haven’t seen in any other course.

I didn’t bring up this class just to brag about how fun it is, however. In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new posting category at the side of my blog for this class. That’s because one of our assignments throughout the semester is to keep something of a blog that compiles entertainment news related to beats we’ve been assigned.

So, over the next few months, I’m going to be putting out a couple of posts specifically related to this class. What the posts are going to be isn’t exactly concrete in my head yet, though I’m imagining some sort of listicle just pointing out a number of stories from the previous week.

The only one that is planned out is the first post, which I’m going to put out toward the end of next week as a means of gathering background knowledge on my beat (luckily enough, video games).

I just wanted to make this post to let you all know what will be coming. Who knows, maybe if I enjoy the practice enough, it’ll be something I continue on with. Only time will tell.

A Legendary Banner for a miniature Tempest Trial

A Legendary Banner for a miniature Tempest Trial

This likely won’t be a substantial post (he says hopefully before getting into the actual writing portion of things), but I felt enough happened in Fire Emblem Heroes today to warrant something before the inevitable one year anniversary celebration.

Coming soon.

First and foremost, there was a new Feh Channel released yesterday that updated everyone on new things coming around the bend.

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I unfortunately have not had the time to watch it. That’s a majority of reason why I’m expecting this to be short.

Basically, I didn’t have time because all of yesterday evening was spent helping to cover President Trump’s State of the Union address.

I was at the College Republicans club watch party, took my own photos, did a wee bit of live tweeting, got a bunch of interviews… It was a pretty nice experience overall.

Then there was some weird stuff going on that led to us not having an article on it quite yet for some reason? But uhh… That’s a story for another time. Namely a time when that article actually gets written and published. Which will hopefully be soon.

That said, if you’re interested in watching the Feh Channel check it out here. I’ll probably get more caught up on the subject matter later.

In the meantime, some of the updates elaborated on in the informational video have already begun to roll out.

My picture just above kind of spoils things, but not as obviously as the featured image for this post… So I’ll quit burying the lede.


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Ike has returned in a third form, this time as a Legendary Hero.

Seriously, anyone else remember when we were all wondering why Ike hadn’t shown up in game when he was clearly a title character all over the branding?

Good times.

Now a days there are three different versions of Ike: His normal appearance, a Brave variant and now a Legendary variant (which is incredibly reminiscent of his Smash Brothers counterpart, I might add).

He’s a pretty strong looking character too.

  • IkeVanguard Legend
    • Legendary Hero Ike comes equipped with some familiar skills and some not-so-familiar skills. His weapon, Ragnell, is the same as his normal variant and gives him distant attack counters. He also comes with a more advanced version of his regular special attack called Radiant Aether which allows him to slash an opponent’s defensive stats and regain 50 percent of the damage he deals as his own health. By itself that’s a pretty wild combination of things. Yet, he also comes with three more skills in the form of Warding Breath (granting him +4 resistance if attacked and increasing Special cooldown charge), Seal Attack and Defense (causing a -5 debuff to both those stats after combat with a unit) and Defense Tactic (granting all infantry and armored units in his 2 square vicinity +6 defense each turn). I have a Brave Ike in my collection but not a regular Ike, so I would definitely be happy to pull this guy.

One of these days I’m really going to have to play the Radiant titles so I understand why Ike was so popular better.

But until I do, I can live out the hype with this beefy looking unit right here.

Assuming I can summon him.

Which, spoiler alert, has not been going super well for me so far. But because there are also some other subsidiary units on his Legendary Banner that I would want (namely Summer Xander, Gunnthrá and Siegbert), I’m going to keep going at it.

In controlled bursts. Not looking to go too crazy when there’s presumably Valentine’s Day units coming up soon. Even if there are only four days on this banner.

Though with the exceptional grace of a beautiful transition, there is an extra source of orbs in our midst as well.


Another miniature Tempest Trials has arrived, not too long after our last New Years-themed event. A long time ago I complained about burnout associated with these suckers, but since I’ve discovered a grinding method that works for me I’m far more welcoming of it.

Even if that trial I complained about was themed after Ike’s games, ironically enough.

Maybe this is what it means to have a full developmental arc?

Who knows. After all, all of that is beside the point because really who can complain about extra orbs, medals and a new character? Especially when that new character is Marisa:

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You’re no Neimi, but you’ll do. Welcome to the team.

Part of my burnout treatment has been not talking about these Tempest Trial runs like I used to, but this one is special enough that I felt it would be worth delving into the plot a little bit further.

As always, it begins with Lucina (or Marth still, despite the fact that it seems like everyone knows something is fishy behind her mask) arriving at a new place to take on yet another outcropping of the threatening Tempest. This time with Heroes-specific units to greet her:

Fjorm seems interested in helping out, but as I mentioned is suspicious of the mask. It makes Lucina untrustworthy apparently.

I do understand that to an extent… But let’s be real, the mask is super sweet and I would trust anyone wearing it.



Editor’s Note: Don’t try to coerce me into things wearing Lucina’s butterfly mask.

Just figured I’d put that out there.



Fjorm has just one idea to prove that Lucina is a trustworthy compatriot:

But then, just as Fjorm is about to take the legendary Falchion…

WHOA!

Plot twist.

Fjorm wasn’t Fjorm all along! She was Loki in disguise once again.

From there she just says she’ll wait for you to arrive at the deepest part of the Tempest to fight her, but there was honestly just something about this plot twist I really enjoyed.

I don’t know, I guess it just worked well in reference to character traits Intelligent Systems has established thus far. You know me, I’m a fan of strong characterization.

It continues on too, considering Loki is actually Fjorm in the final battle of the Tempest Trial run.

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That about covers everything I have to say regarding this Fire Emblem Heroes update.

Like I said earlier, there should be more to come in the near future when we get to the anniversary of the game’s release. That’ll be dope for anyone who pines during the downtime without Fire Emblem posts.

For anyone who doesn’t pine for Fire Emblem posts… Well… Like I said, something about the State of the Union should be coming soon. I also have a few other plans in the next couple days I’m planning on writing about, so overall there should just be some nice activity going on around here.

So, until next time, what do you think about Legendary Ike? Besides him, who else would you want to get out of the new summoning banner?

Let me know in the comments down below!