Tag: 2017

Alola begins anew

Alola begins anew

It may only be a year after we were first introduced to the Alola region in Pokémon Sun and Moon… But as a self-proclaimed hardcore Pokémon fanatic, I simply couldn’t resist going out to get the next addition to the series on day one.

I’ll admit, it does help that my Mom agreed to help pay off half the cost as sort of an early holiday gift. I was going to do it anyway, though.

Plus, it also helps that Thanksgiving Break has officially started for me, so I have a whole week to start pouring into some Pokémon when I’m not doing whatever assignments I have.

Or when I’m not writing blog posts like this. I still owe myself one for the three stories I published the week before we left, so hopefully I won’t get too sucked into the game.

That being said, this  post is going to be short and sweet because, frankly, I’m really excited to get into Ultra Moon. Because Mega Noivern for life. Also because Alyson is going to play Ultra Sun given she prefers Solgaleo, as evidenced by her McDonald’s Happy Meal toy from the other day:

I can appreciate the glowing eyes, though Rowlet is still my baby boy so I couldn’t resist not getting him, as you can see in the featured image at the top of this post.

I know the games are going to be fairly different than the originals from all of the pre-release trailers, so now I’m going to see just how different they are, and by extension whether they’re more worth going after than the originals.

To be completely honest, one of the big aspects that might sway that decision for me is how much time and effort the Rainbow Rocket team gets. Seriously Game Freak, you better have added in the original theme songs for each villain team boss or I’m going to be so disappointed in you.

Anyway, all that said, I’m going to go play some Pokémon now. Probably expect a few comparison-type posts in the near future as I work through Ultra Moon, or at least expect a team recap by the end of my journey. I still have to decide who I’m going to use after all, since I’m not going to go with the same squad as I used my first go-around.

Those guys are special to my Moon playthrough. I couldn’t just recreate them.

It does make my job harder since there’s a lot of options that are my favorites now excluded… But I’ll figure it out. Probably going to start with Popplio this time around, I think. Because I’m not sure what other Water-type I would want to use if not Wishiwashi, and because… Well, come on.

popplio
How freakin adorable, right? Right.

Sorry Litten, you’ll get your time in the spotlight soon enough. There’s just some other Fire-types I want to give a whirl this time around.

Okay, for real this time, I’ll catch you all later. If you got US&UM like me, let me know what you think about the games! I’d love to hear your thoughts somewhere on the internet.

Advertisements

October 16, 2017 Articles Published

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s very rare that I get the pleasure of seeing my two passions – video games and journalism – meld so nicely together at this stage in my career.

So I really enjoy the times that they do come together, like with this review I wrote about the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake.

After a couple of long, rough weeks dealing with a mass shooting and some crazy local fires, it’s been a blessing to have a game to unwind with recently, particularly a game that holds such a strong place in my heart.

Seriously, re-experiencing Superstar Saga has been an absolute joy, even if the whole time I feel like I’ve been focused more on deeply examining what’s different, both the good and the bad changes. That kind of critical eye did make it easier to pull things apart for a review, but it has certainly made the actual act of playing a whole different animal for me.

Oh, and pull things apart I did, as I focused this review much more on how things differ compared to the original game than I did on the game itself, since I figure that’s what should be done for something like the review of a remake.

While I did have a great time with Superstar Saga (and I’m not quite done yet – I’ve beaten the main story but I haven’t yet finished collecting everything 100 percent, and I’m still working my way through Bowser’s Minions), it isn’t perfect by any means. It is vastly improved upon compared to the original in almost every way imaginable, but there is a lot that feels like a backpedaling as well.

I try to address some of those points in my review, but the chief complaint I had with the game really boils down to the battle system. Compared to the original game, this remake has gorgeous sprite work that lends itself to really complex and over-the-top character animations, which are nice but make each action feel longer. On top of that, the battles are easier than I remember them being (much like the rest of the game in all honesty) and the music contributes to slogging battles down and making them grow to tedium faster by sounding far slower, seeming more eclectic within itself and has more synthetic tones.

If that makes sense. I’m not much of a music reviewer, but that feels right in my head.

Despite this issue, the game is still hilarious, beautiful and sounds great by all other accounts, and I’d highly recommend picking it up if you have experienced the story or if you haven’t before. It’s just too bad that the system you spend 90 percent of your time experiencing is arguably the worst part.

Oh, and when I say the game feels way easier than I remember, I’d say take the comment with a grain of salt. There are a lot of gameplay functionalities which have been vastly improved upon to streamline aspects of the experience, and those improvements do make the overall experience seem easier… But at the same time I also had the entirety of this game memorized like the back of my hand before walking in, so it might not be that much ‘easier’ for someone who’s never heard of the game before.

Plus the endgame still has a big difficulty spike when going through Bowser’s Castle in my opinion, so there’s always that.

Either way I certainly don’t mind an easy game here or there, if nothing else that ease helped this be a wonderful stress relief and trip down memory lane for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t want to burden my editor Sarah with too much in regards to putting this article together (even though the 900 words I have can already easily be considered overkill), so much of what I wrote out in my drafting process got left on the cutting room floor.

Luckily this blog seems like the perfect place to rectify that. So, if I have the time, expect a more complete unabridged version of my thoughts on Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions sometime here in the near future. It’ll be long, it’ll be hella involved, but that’s the magic of a personal blog. It offers you a place to shout your endless opinions into the void.

At least, that’s how I like to use it anyway.

If you want to see my article in it’s entirety (the theatrical release version at least, as I like to put it), you can see it here. You can also see my full catalog of articles for the Daily Titan over on the right!


Turns out, the game review wasn’t the only thing I wound up getting published today. It was going to be, but then we decided to run an update on the Anaheim Hills Fire, and I got slated to work on that.

So, since I already had the entire gaming part written up early (shows me for trying to be ahead I suppose), I figured it’d be worth adding this portion to the bottom here.

I don’t really have a lot to say necessarily, this story was more of a straight-forward deal. I pulled together some tweets from the Anaheim Fire & Rescue department that gave the most recent updates on containment of the blaze, as well as some information from the California Department of Transportation talking about a local highway that was partially reopened on Friday.

Then, once I had those basics down, I got in touch with the Orange County Fire Authority, where I was directed to the Public Information Officer for the Canyon 2 Fire, Mike Yeun. The guy was real nice, more than willing to chat even while he was driving, and he gave me a bunch of good information to fill out my story. It definitely made things much stronger than the basic 200 word short update I had before.

For anyone curious, the fire was 75 percent contained as of 7 p.m. on Oct. 14, and authorities are expecting full containment by Oct. 17. Things are well on their way thanks to the effort of apparently over 1,600 firefighters at one point at least.

If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, you can check it out here. Or, once again, everything I’ve written for the Titan is over on the right, so you can check that out too if you want.

Helping inspire the next generation

Helping inspire the next generation

Though I usually relish my two days a week that I don’t have to drive out to Fullerton for school and production, today I spent my Saturday going out to CSUF so I could hang out in the newsroom all afternoon.

But not because of production this time around.

No, today was the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ SoCal 2017 conference, and it was held on campus. With a large collection of journalistically-inclined community college students assembling at CSUF looking to one day apply for a four-year college, it only made sense that the Daily Titan had an open house of sorts in the newsroom to answer any questions and encourage joining the editorial board.

As one of the longest serving members on the Daily Titan – which is something really bizarre for me to consider since I’m still one of the younger people in the room on average – I figured it would do me some good to come introduce myself to some potential future colleagues, and lay their minds at ease with regards to working on a higher caliber paper.

Granted we did confirm a lot of their fears regarding balancing school and production life, as well as producing a paper on a daily basis… But we also found a lot of people getting really excited about what we do, and I was able to dispense a lot of valuable advice about things like news reporting (in my opinion).

In fact, I really think there were some people I met today from a variety of schools, including Citrus College, Cypress CollegeOrange Coast College, and way more that I can’t remember off the top of my head while writing this (sorry for that if anyone winds up reading this from those colleges), who I can definitely see joining the Titan in the near future.

Plus I got this very nice picture out of it that I saw on Twitter:

Beyond spending some time talking about my experience with fellow aspiring journalists, I also got to hang out with our Managing Editor Harrison, one of my News Assistants Amy and one of our Lifestyle Assistants Tanya in a non-production context, which was a lot of fun. Bonnie, our Advisor, and Walt Baranger, a Daily Titan Alum and former New York Times editor who teaches at CSUF now, also stopped by and spent some time with us and with the Community College students.

We even got some donuts and pizza out of the deal too, so all and all I’d say it was an afternoon well spent – Even if I hadn’t been expecting to waste a good 6 hours at Fullerton on a Saturday just a few days ago.

 

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Luckily for my sudden onset of insomnia tonight, it seems I have a new distraction to mull over beyond Superstar Saga. And writing overly long diatribes about Superstar Saga that I’m going to have to cut down to a more manageable form for a general newspaper audience.

Seriously, Sarah, if you wind up reading this… I’m sorry that I might wind up being more of a pain than I’m worth for the next couple of days with that review article.

But this isn’t the place for pre-emptive apologies. That can come at the end of this post. As the title suggests, we’ve got some Fire Emblem to discuss.

img_6296

This morning, Intelligent Systems has graced the world with an update to Fire Emblem Heroes, bringing us into the 1.8 version of the game. Thankfully, there isn’t a hell of a lot to this big update like there was with the last few, so I hopefully won’t be hating myself when I have to get up later.

The major addition with this update is a little feature we’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Seal Forging.

Now, for those of you who are uninitiated in the unending and relentless cult of Fire Emblem Heroes, Sacred Seals are items you can equip to your units that allow them to utilize a fourth passive skill on top of the “A,” “B” and “C” level skills they can be summoned with or inherit.

img_6315

These Sacred Seals can make a number of new possibilities open up for unit building and team composition overall. A few of my personal favorite examples include giving a unit like Reinhardt the “Quickened Pulse” seal that allows his special attack to pop off more often or giving a unit like Eirika a seal like “Fortify Resistance” so she can passively buff an additional stat for her allies at the start of a turn.

We’ve had a number of means of unlocking these Sacred Seals in the past, most notably through special Sacred Seal missions that cycle through on occasion, as rewards for completing Squad Assault challenges and as tier rewards during Tempest Trials:

img_6097-1
“Distant Defense” was a particularly good one out of the Tempest Trials category, as was “Quickened Pulse.”

The issue many players have had with these seals is that most have been stuck at a basic level 1 status, with no sign of additional level 2 or 3 variants being released anytime soon.

Enter: Seal Forging.

Though to allow Seal Forging to enter the conversation, we do have to take a step back. You don’t just get the ability to forge Sacred Seals right away, after all.

Thus, enter a new Intermission mission that players can unlock after they defeat Chapter 13 in the main story of the game.

 

Strangely enough this Intermission is the first of its kind and seems somewhat out of place as a result of being only one mission with no additional associated quests. The developers do make this strange addition make sense in the context of the story’s plot, however.

If you don’t remember what happened last time in the ongoing Fire Emblem Heroes saga, you can see me ramble about it in my post about the Crimean heroes some time back. If that’s a ‘too long, didn’t read’ kind of situation for you, then here’s the basics:

The Order of Heroes’ old ally Zacharias turns out to be their new enemy Prince Bruno, who fights against them because his bloodline makes him have an insatiable bloodlust because of something something evil dragon magic, so on and so forth in that classic Fire Emblem flavor. However, he revealed at that point that he still cares about his friends in the Order, and wants to help them help him so he can be friends with them again.

That’s the brief blurb about it, anyway.

This Intermission kicks off just about directly after that happened, when Anna leads the team to an ancient ruin called the Eternal Sanctum after Zacharias told her they could unlock more of their power there.

 

You go, you conquer, and at the end of the mission the team finds instructions for the Seal Forging ritual, which the team takes back home and unlocks for the player’s future use.

Really it’s as simple as that, even though I made it much more wordy than it had to be.

Once you unlock the option to forge Sacred Seals, you gain two abilities: Creation and Enhancement.

 

These options do exactly what you’d expect just off the names alone.

  • Creation mode: As the name suggests, allows a player to create a brand new Sacred seal that they do not already have. Currently there are only a few options with the “Spur” skills and brand new “Deflect” skills, with the latter being more expensive than the prior to create.
  • Enhancement mode: Again, as the name suggests, allows a player to boost the power of an enumerated Sacred Seal they already own. With this, “Breath of Life 1” can grow to eventually become “Breath of Life 3,” providing all the benefits of a third level skill as an add-on to a hero.

Both of these abilities take Sacred Coins, an item you receive as rewards for getting good rankings in the Arena Assault mode. Before now these items were completely useless and just taking up space, so I’m glad they can now be used for something.

Though, because I never took them seriously, I never actually spent a lot of effort earning them… So looks like I’ll have to take Arena Assault mode a bit more seriously from here on out. They are also adding them as rewards in other places like quests and through Tempest Trials from here on out, so that’s definitely a plus!

img_6298
Remember this image, it’s going to be relevant again later in this post.

That’s really about all there is to say about Sacred Seal forging at this point. All and all I’d say it’s a quite welcomed addition as a means of making units more powerful for both casual and Arena play. Plus, it fills in some knowledge gaps as far as letting us know what certain things do that previously had no purpose, so it’s satisfying in that regard.

Yet, I wouldn’t argue I’m personally blown away by this part of the update. It’s definitely nice, but I’m not enough of an Arena junkie to feel like I’ll get an exorbitant amount of use out of the system outside of an underlying drive to collect everything.

I can probably blame Pokémon for that one now that I’m thinking about it… But that’s another story.


Seal forging isn’t the only thing that was added in Version 1.8. It was certainly the biggest thing that was added, but there are a number of more minor aesthetic and mechanical adjustments that are actually wonderful additions in terms of making the entire user experience with Fire Emblem Heroes more smooth.

There are three other changes that the game felt were important enough to spell out in more detail as a part of this update, so I figure I’ll break them down the same way.

Changing Teams

img_6312

Now this is a change I can get behind. When playing Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m a huge culprit of the ‘look at a mission, then change teams up to fit said mission’ phenomenon. If that is, in fact, a phenomenon most players encounter.

Either way, the inconvenience of this issue is now a thing of the past. Instead of having to jump through seemingly 20 different pages to go from the entrance of a mission to the team editing screen, you can now go to team editing right away thanks to an extra button just at the bottom of the confirmation screen.

As you’ll see again with the other two things here, this change is all about convenience for the player, as just the fact that it was added at all leads me to believe other players had just as much to groan about as I did in regards to how long it took to get to the editing teams menu.

So good on you for listening to that bellyaching and turning it into constructive criticism, Intelligent Systems. I certainly know I appreciate the change.

Quick Questing

img_6298
See, I told you this particular image would be relevant again.

Much like going to the team editing screen from a battle confirmation screen was a pain, so was going from a battle confirmation screen to the menu showing off whatever quests and missions you had available. If you were trying to accomplish a mission with a certain goal on a certain level, flipping through those screens was almost a necessity.

Luckily, thanks to Version 1.8’s push for convenience, that problem is also a thing of the past.

Now when you’re looking at missions you can go directly to wherever that mission is relevant for. Need to beat the Training Tower’s Tenth Stratum another six times? Well, here’s a button to go straight there. Plus, it works in reverse, which means you can go from the battle confirmation screen to the quests and missions tab and vice versa. Way cool.

However, I think my favorite part of this change is that it also added these:

img_6317

Markers showing off which options include mission-specific things you can complete is honestly incredible. It again removes the need to flip between two pages to pick up on the information you need, but in a much more streamlined way.

I would probably argue this addition is my favorite part of this entire update, just because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been internally asking for since the day the game came out.

Easy Auto-Battle

img_6318

The option is actually here in the bottom right-hand corner (^^^), in case you missed it.

With this one, what you see is what you get. Now there’s a more convenient button available (if you turn it on in your settings menu) to turn auto-battling on and off. During a game mode where you have to fight multiple teams in succession, this also keeps it on across multiple battles.

Simple convenience is the name of the game here, folks. Not too much to say, but the effort to improve the user experience is cool to see seeping through every inch of this game as time goes on.

Beyond those three, a number of other things were done that I figure are best left up to the concise words bestowed by in-game text:

img_6295

  • I haven’t played a lot with character supports beyond doing it for some stat buffs between my calvary units as a test run, but I guess it’s nice to see a more concise list of the benefits it provides right from the Support Rank icon. Don’t have much to say beyond that, however.
  • Voting Gauntlets don’t happen that often, and an aesthetic change as small as darkening out the members of a team you have selected other than the one that will appear in the Gauntlet is definitely more of an unnoticeable change unless you’ve been playing this game as long as I have. While I did notice this before even reading it in the change log, I’ll say pretty bluntly that it doesn’t change my life much at all.
  • Seeing every item you collect when using the “Accept All” option is a change that is arguably negligible enough to not have to be there at all, but I will admit there is something nice about getting a complete breakdown of what you’ll be earning should you be accepting items strewn across multiple mission and quest lines.
  • Gotta love bug fixes.

While that’s everything new with Version 1.8, I also figured it would be worth bringing up the new Voting Gauntlet that started today, if for no other reason than to look back at this when it’s over and lament whatever choices I’ve made in the here and now.

img_6299

The theme for this gauntlet is “The Blood of Dragons,” which pits Manakete against Manakete in a battle of the ancient bloodlines.

Not much has changed with this version in regards to the Voting Gauntlet system, other than the fact that supposedly adjustments were made in determining which army is stronger or weaker (which I really hope isn’t an actual fix considering what a meme it has become amongst my friends to send pictures of billion or trillion point differences in scores that read in-game as being the “same” as one another).

Though mechanically things are the same, there are some different rewards this time around for putting in the time to play:

img_6298
Take three – Possibly my most prominently used photo in any post ever just from this one alone.

Like I mentioned before in the Sacred Seals forging portion, now Sacred Coins have been added as rewards for completing Gauntlet-related quests. Between those and orbs, there are a growing number of incentives to participate as time goes on.

Personally, I’ll be participating on the side of young Tiki. She was one of my first five star units ever summoned, so there’s sentimental value there, and I also happen to adore her unrequited love for Marth in the canon of the games in which she appears.

I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, okay? Sue me.

If Tiki fails I’ll probably jump on the Nowi train since I get the feeling she has a strong chance of winning… But that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. For now, I’ll just keep focused on supporting my girl as far as she’ll go.


Well, that about does it for another unnecessarily huge Fire Emblem Heroes post.

Seriously this was another relatively small update that I managed to turn into a 2,200 word post. How I do that is beyond me, but I sure hope that it clears out whatever issues I have backed up in my psyche in one way or another.

If you stuck with me so far, then thank you. As a reward, I’ll treat you with this: My favorite picture out of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga so far.

img_6285

Nothing like a good old game of Donkey Kong to really bring the world together.

It’s either this one or blowing up the fat skeleton in the shipwrecked S.S. Chuckola, but that also requires some extra explanation to truly appreciate the fatso jokes, so… Yeah. For another time.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m actually working on an article for the Daily Titan reviewing the Superstar Saga remake, so expect to see that by the end of the week. In fact, I have far more to say about the game than I’ll ever be allowed to publish, even if it’s probably going online-only, so expect to see an unabridged version of that review here on the blog not too long after.

Until then, let me know what you think of Sacred Seal forging and the other small changes from this update in the comments below!

If nothing else, I know messing with some of this stuff is going to be a wonderful distraction from having to study for my statistics exam this week. Seriously not looking forward to that.

October 5, 2017 Article Published

I was looking to have this out earlier, but after my early day of classes I wound up coming home and passing out for a long time.

So… Better late than never, I suppose.

Yesterday, the Cal State Fullerton University Police Department sent out a crime alert about a suspect allegedly masturbating in public at the roundabout outside of Dan Black Hall and calling at least one person over to his car while doing so. The suspect drove off, but the police were able to get a basic description and a partial license plate from the female student who called in the public indecency.

To put it simply, my story is meant to be an informative piece letting members of the campus community know exactly what the police know at this point while adding comments from Capt. Scot Willey about police procedures with these cases, how confident they are in working this particular case and going more into how the details fit into our campus police’s push for a “see something, say something” mentality.

It’s a pretty basic crime story. Nothing too extremely challenging, but certainly one of the hallmarks of journalism at it’s core. Informing the public, giving them another chance to find out where they can assist the police if they can.

Though, I will admit… Getting to write about masturbation in an article was an interesting experience. Even if the contextual subject matter made it pretty gross overall. Even Capt. Willey sounded a little weirded out about the whole thing, and he has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement.

It probably didn’t help that I decided to write the story in the middle of my honors class on Wednesday. We were hoping to get the piece out as soon as possible for online to get a jump on the ‘informing the public’ side of things, so I had my laptop out during the admittedly slow lecture period to finish it so I didn’t hold up production all too long.

While I can’t say I’m complaining about the feeling of getting work done in an expedient fashion, it did feel just a little bit extra awkward to not only be writing about indecent public masturbation, but to do so sitting right next to a bunch of my friends from various honors classes.

But hey, guess that’s just what a journalist does.

If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

October 2 & 3 Articles Published

I think it’s probably pretty needless to say that the last few days have been rather hectic to be a journalist.

The mass shooting that happened Sunday in Las Vegas was a truly horrific event that frankly threw everything for a loop. The most recent estimates for what I was working with last night were saying that at least 59 have been killed and at least 527 were injured in the attack.

It’s honestly still unfathomable to me that one person could do that much. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the sheer number of people that were directly affected.

On top of that, the old adage of “everybody knows somebody” when it comes to these kinds of events has never rung more true for me than it has now. Me, my co-editor Brandon and a few other members of the Daily Titan have been covering the story the last couple of days (which has been a hectic enough time to hopefully explain why I’m lumping these two article posts into one) and we’re gathering more and more stories of people here in Orange County and at CSUF that were involved in one way or another.

I’ll admit it has been a bit harrowing and, frankly, quite disheartening to be barraged by all these details via work and in just about every form of media relentlessly over the last couple of days. Yet… At the same time, I can’t say I remember the last time I’ve been this proud of the work I’ve been doing.

The night of the shooting, while only a few of us were left in the newsroom wrapping up production, news started to trickle out of Las Vegas. At first we weren’t sure we were going to do anything about it, since there was lots of confusion about exactly what was going on as the Route 91 Harvest festival quickly broke apart. However, once we saw just how big the story was becoming, we knew we had to add something to our front page for our readers to be informed.

We wound up staying until 3:00 a.m. or so to finish that front page banner. Though Brandon, our copy editor Kyle, our managing editor Harrison and myself were working on compiling everything we could that was confirmable for some time leading up to then, the real linchpin we wanted was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department media briefing that was going to give us as much up-to-date information as we could before we had no more leeway to let the printer extend our deadline.

That meeting was originally scheduled to happen at 12:45 a.m. It wound up happening closer to 1:45 a.m.

Granted it did give us the treasure trove of everything we needed to put a solid piece together, but it still kept us rather late. I can’t really say I’m complaining about it, however. Sure I was tired for class and I’m still pretty tired today, but being able to get that breaking news on the front page was an awesome feeling, and I really felt like I’m working with some of the best people in the business more than ever before.

Then the next day we did a follow-up piece on the shooting, extrapolating on CSUF President Mildred Garcia’s statement about members of the Titan community being present at the concert to write something about people who were there.

Alright, to be completely accurate about it, technically that’s more what Brandon wrote for our front page today. Originally that was also going to include a portion about the campus police department and how prepared they are to deal with active shooter situations. But we wound up having so much information that we split those into two separate articles, with me mostly writing the campus police story. We did both give each other contributing lines in our respective stories, though, since we helped each other gather the information together.

I think both articles turned out great, as his packed a serious emotional punch with first-hand accounts from a student about what it was like to be at the shooting while mine was an informative and, hopefully, comforting piece about the fact that these are things our officers have thought of and are prepared to deal with. They went together under a single banner framed by a picture of the flags on campus at half mast, and I’d say they really made a great package.

img_6249
Our last two front pages from Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 side-by-side

Plus, I personally found it a little funny that the story I wrote feels like a callback to my first big front page article for the Daily Titan, a story about campus police preparedness following the San Bernardino shooting.

Funny in as much as something can be considering the subject matter, of course.

If you want to read these articles in their entirety, and I recommend it for some of the powerful stuff we’ve pulled together – even if I’m sure everyone’s rather worn down on the subject by now – you can check them out here:

You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right.

I’m sure there’s going to be more to come as far as covering the aftermath of Las Vegas goes, so be sure stick around if you want to see more coming down the pipeline.

September 25, 2017 Article Published

It’s starting to feel like I’m going to build myself a “breaks apart federal documents” niche the way this semester has been going.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR – not to be confused with the Orange County Register, since I did get that question during deadline night) announced Friday that they are withdrawing two documents that contain statements about policies and guidance for handling Title IX.

The documents, a Dear Colleague Letter from 2011 about sexual violence and a follow-up Q&A regarding the same subjects from 2014, received legal criticism and were apparently imposed “without affording notice and the opportunity for public comment” according to a Dear Colleague Letter put out by the OCR.

I go more in-depth into exactly what the original documents talked about in the article, as well as some finer details like what is still considered in place as far as policy goes, but it took long enough to get something together that was simplified down for print, so I think it’s really just worth pointing right to that for anything too intricate.

The other part of this story that was important involved the California State University system. Because part of the OCR’s message talked about how they’ll be starting a process to create new guidelines with more public input, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White’s statement in response to the Title IX changes mentioned that the school system will be a strong participant in the process.

So, of course, we reached out to CSUF to see if they specifically would be a part of that effort, or whether it was something better left to the systemwide representatives. Our answer from the university’s Chief Communications Officer was essentially the latter, with a hefty agreement to the Chancellor’s message to boot.

Honestly that just about sums up the whole thing, and it wasn’t necessarily much of an exciting development process to get there. We waited for a bit to get the CSUF response, but otherwise everything relied on information from the OCR and the CSU statements, so it was more a matter of taking a couple hours to scour out the wording and pull it all together. It felt good to pull this kind of an information-heavy story in such a quick manner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not proclaiming any sort of fireworks were going off as it happened.

At least I got to show off my document scrubbing skills, like I said. Plus I didn’t have to do it while sitting in Downtown Disney like I did for that DACA article earlier this month, so I certainly can’t find any reason to complain.

If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. You can also see my full breadth of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

September 14, 2017 Article Published

I’ll be honest, today hasn’t been the greatest day. In fact, it’s been pretty lousy all things considered. But the reason why is a long, long story, and it’s a story I don’t exactly feel like telling right now. 

So instead let’s just talk about this article I got published, even if I don’t have too much to say regarding it necessarily.

As the Daily Titan follows a number of long-running story threads – namely the DACA decision, Title IX and the potential visit from Milo Yiannopoulos in the near future – everyone on news desk has been putting in a hell of a lot of work. My co-editor Brandon has been especially busy, mostly because he’s been keeping up with everything as my life is keeping me spiraled in many different directions at once.

However, yesterday I was able to use my friendly connection with the President of the College Republicans club to whip out a real quick 350ish word update on the Milo situation, which felt good to contribute after a week of feeling pretty hands-off on a lot of things.

This lead came after the group Students for Quality Education rallied at the ASI Board of Directors meeting earlier in the week. At one point in that story it was mentioned that an executive brought up October 31st as the date which Milo could be coming. Having been in talks with the College Republicans club president and president emeratus, I knew that they’ve been working on bringing Milo on Halloween, but I haven’t reported on it yet given that the official contract with the speaker hasn’t been signed. Figured that meant there was still room for change down the line, and I didn’t want to be too pre-mature.

When it was brought up by that third party, however, I was curious enough to dig a little more. After all, even though I’m essentially at the top of the waiting list for information, I hadn’t heard anything was finalized. What I wound up discovering from my contact in the University Conference Center was that the College Republicans have officially booked the Titan Student Union Pavilion space for a guest speaker on Halloween.

Thus, the story was as simple as a quick update on that with a nice little interview I did with the College Republicans club president Amanda that not only set the stage for what’s next, but also got her input on most of the events that had been happening throughout the week. All and all it’s short, but I think rather nice and effective as an update story. Something to keep the fire kindled as we wait for more, I suppose.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here. If you want to look at my whole catalog of work for the Daily Titan, you can look over at the link on the right!

The 1.7.0 Update: For Love? Or for Stats? Plus more Fire Emblem fun

The 1.7.0 Update: For Love? Or for Stats? Plus more Fire Emblem fun

As I’m sure anyone watching my blog has noticed that I’ve been rather busy the past few days. Driving around for internship/Boom-related events, starting daily production for the Daily Titan with some late nights, working on stories like DACA and our interview with President García, plus more in that I haven’t gone into half of the actual schoolwork and personal things I’ve had to deal with beyond work.

As much as it’s better to be busy than bored, I’ve been a little stretched thin. Unfortunately that means some things have to fall through the cracks, and some big Fire Emblem Heroes stuff happens to be what fell through said cracks this time around. It’s a shame too, there have been multiple things that I otherwise would have loved to talk about in a more timely manner.

But look at me complaining about missing fun stuff because work and responsibilities got in the way. Probably time to move on to what I’m talking about today before the world’s smallest violin busts out a tune.

Since I gabbed about the game’s Brave Heroes update last time around, quite a few things have happened. First and foremost:

img_6052

That’s right, I got me a special Lucy.

Humblebrag that may be, but Lucina is one of my favorite characters given her high prestige as my Super Smash Bros. 4 main fighter. So I’m excited about it and wanted to share it with the world.

The last Voting Gauntlet also wound up being much more of an intense game than I’ve seen in some time. As I predicted at the beginning of the competition, Ike won.

img_6071

The guy is so popular that it was hard to imagine he wouldn’t, and I got off with plenty of hero feathers thanks to my lucky intelligent deduction, so you’ll hear no complains from me. Camilla did put up a good fight though, and the intense competition both in the overall Gauntlet and within my friend group (as we literally split down the middle with our support) made things way more engaging.

Also we got 4 orbs every two days for each of the three rounds. That’s a nice incentive as well. Feel free to keep nice stuff like that flowing, Intelligent Systems.

Then as things moved into September, we got an event calendar for the month that preempted a bunch of cool things coming in the near future:
img_6081

A few of these events have started already, and those are the crux of what I’m here to talk about today. So let’s get going and split it up appropriately, shall we?


Version 1.7.0

img_6070
Ironically this version update is the biggest news to come out of Fire Emblem Heroes in a long time… Yet I don’t have a ton to say about it.

Fire Emblem has become known not only for its high difficulty strategy-RPG gameplay, but also for its comprehensive unit support systems across many of the games in the series. In Fire Emblem Heroes, only one of those things has been represented since the initial release.

Until now, that is.

Ally support systems are in the game, and with it comes endless possibilities for ships in serious and in meme-worthy contexts. As someone who has loved shipping in Fire Emblem games since my first venture into Sacred Stones, I’m more than excited to see that we can pair up characters to our hearts content.

Just like in the main series titles, allies who fight near one another in battle gain support rankings that range from C to S when undergoing support training. However, an interesting component to Heroes’ model comes from the fact that you can constantly switch who your hero supports. You could have an S-support with a unit only to break that off and start another one back at C, and you can do so as many times as you want.

img_6100

While I haven’t had the chance to build much support beyond basic C-level stuff, it seems as though the characters interact in a cute little cutscene to show how much they enjoy each other’s company for every rank you climb. You can view the little vignettes that come with this whenever you want.

In battle, supporting allies gain bonuses depending on their rank and distance from one another:

  • C-rank grants units +1 resistance from one space away, double that when adjacent.
  • B-rank grants units +1 resistance and defense from one space away, double that when adjacent.
  • A-rank grants units +1 resistance, defense and speed from one space away, double that when adjacent.
  • S-rank grants units +1 resistance, defense, speed and attack from one space away, double that when adjacent.

However, on the battlefield itself, it doesn’t appear as though supporting units get special indication beyond a heart over the support partner when you select one or the other. Perhaps there’s more if you get higher that I haven’t seen, but in this case there’s no way for me to know.

I do hope they add in a small heart animation when units fight side by side though. That would be amazing.

The other interesting thing to note about ally support is that you, the summoner, can get in on the anime-themed shipping action as well!

img_6101

That’s right, what would a modern Fire Emblem game be without a self-insert character to pair with any unit you desire? The concept behind how this works is exactly the same so long as you replace each instance of “two units” with “one unit,” as you technically count as the second presence in the room.

The scaling benefits are also slightly better for summoner supported allies:

  • A C-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance and +3 health at all times.
  • A B-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense and +4 health at all times.
  • An A-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense, speed and +4 health at all times.
  • An S-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense, speed, attack and +5 health at all times.

Okay by slightly better I actually mean infinitely better. These are some amazing stat buffs to be able to bestow upon one ally.

Which, of course, brings us to the question that serves as this post’s title.

Are you the kind of player that will pair your units together because you canonically love them as a pairing in the story of their games/the story of your imagination’s choosing?

Or are you the kind of player that will pair your units strictly to build the strongest team imaginable, letting no stat points go to waste?

Personally… I haven’t decided which category I am. In all other circumstances I would wholeheartedly go for option 1, as I ship literally anything and everything in any video game I play, TV show I watch, book I read and more. But for Fire Emblem Heroes the pure stat buffs are awfully tempting… Especially on my cavalier team.

I would kill for some high-leveled units to get even stronger.

But for the summoner support especially I’m at a loss. Who do I want to be with? Do I pair myself with a powerful unit like a Brave Lyn to make her a battling monster? Do I pair with a sentimental unit like Eirika from my favorite Fire Emblem game (despite her actual husband being available)? Or do I pair myself with a unit like Nino, my first true Fire Emblem Heroes waifu? I literally have no idea.

Oh well. I’ll have time to figure it out.

Overall, I would say the Ally Support system is a welcome addition to this mobile title that, despite being somewhat barebones right now, easily serves its purpose and has opened the flood gates for people to do whatever they please in terms of customizable relationships.

In a sense it’s somewhat ingenious to have the feature in a mobile game styled like Heroes is where each player can build their own experiences with unit pairing. Sure it’s only porting an already existing idea over, but I still think it lends itself uproariously well.

And if I ever summon her I’ll be able to finally get revenge on the restrictive Echoes by shipping Genny and Tobin.

While shipping is easily the biggest addition to Version 1.7.0, it isn’t the only one.

Though there isn’t a lot, so the pictures above basically sum everything up.

A search option for skill inheritance is a great idea, one that I’m sure already has, is continuing to and will from here on out save people tons of time when building teams. The rest of the stuff boils down to some aesthetic and deep mechanical adjustments that I don’t feel like I have to dive into that deeply.

If anything, I just think it’s safe to say that I appreciate the game developers for constantly updating things to make the best user experience possible. So far nothing they’ve done has failed me yet and it seems like the community as a whole enjoys the changes too.

Keep it up Intelligent Systems, and I’ll keep up giving you some free publicity whenever you start up new developments. New interesting developments.

New interesting developments such as –


Tempest Trials Mini: To Die on the Battlefield

img_6087

A new Tempest Trial, which launched just today!

In other words, this is the section of this post that kept me from getting that much sleep last night. Thanks game, you always know how to prod at my insomniac button.

The Trials start off about how we’ve come to expect them at this point. Masked Lucina has teamed up with the four top Bonus Allies for this go around (Eliwood, Lyn, Hector and Ninian) to help lead them into the Tempest so they can protect their world.

 

However, she does warn them that the character at the end of the Trial is a special kind of foe:

img_6091

After you break through the usual barrage of battles (seven at the highest Lunatic difficulty in my case), you come across that special foe. The build-up is intense, the anticipation is great, and in the end…

img_6093

It’s Hector. Given the description Lucina gave for him I suppose it makes sense that this is the character who’d show up at the end, but I wouldn’t liked to see something more novel-

img_6094

I’m sorry, what was that? 85 health?

43 defense?

30 speed?

Pavise?

And Distant Counter?

My god… This unit is completely overpowered.

I actually legitimately think it’s glorious just how overpowered he is. Hector is already considered to be one of the most powerful units in the game and they buffed him to high hell for this event. Thank god they keep units weak after you lose a fight, otherwise this might have been next to impossible. He actually beat down quite a few of my units before I was able to finally take him down the first time, ending the first of many future runs at the same challenges that I’ll be playing for the next week.

Oh, uhh… Also the background is pretty.

img_6095
Or it would be if I got a picture without Mathilda in the way… Sorry.

Hector kind of overshadows it, but I do think it’s quite nice. Thought that would be worth mentioning.

img_6096

Mechanically speaking, not all that much is new this time around. Everything that has been added throughout the last couple of Tempest Trials runs have made their return, and I definitely appreciate their continued appearance. Weaker opponents upon losing a fight and switching to a new team still probably being my favorite. Though a close second is the two daily rounds of extra bonus points for completing runs on top of the separate daily rewards you receive for completing said runs that really encourage continued habit-building playing.

This particular event only lasting a week instead of two weeks (hence the “Mini” modifier) also means there are less reward tiers, making everything easier to collect. Bonus Allies become that much more worthwhile as a result, since they continue to boast stat boosts across the board on top of their value as point multipliers.

Now, it may sound like I just glossed over the idea that the event is shorter and has less rewards, which is something I’m sure plenty of people have found reason to complain about… But frankly I glossed over it because I think it’s rather nice.

As my very complaint-filled introduction at the beginning suggested, I don’t have a ton of time to spare as of late. Thus, having a smaller and more manageable event with easier goals to reach is a godsend if anything.

On top of that the rewards are so tightly packed that it feels like we’re getting plenty of bang for our buck in quantity.

img_6097

Though that does bring up another point. These rewards are… Fairly disappointing overall.

Don’t get me wrong, things like free orbs are a commodity I’ll never complain about, and with my huge stockpile of Stamina Potions I have no doubt that all of those sweet little spheres will be in my inventory in no time flat. But these Trials tend to be known for big special prizes throughout the point accumulation process that serve as driving forces.

This run doesn’t really have that, for me at least.

Masked Lucina is the character reward, and even my love for her doesn’t change the fact that I already own a five-star version to use. Defense 1 and Quickened Pulse are also pretty ‘meh’ rewards, as they are Sacred Seals I already have (though I do encourage anyone who doesn’t have it to go after Quickened Pulse).

Distant Defense is brand new at least, and it certainly looks like it will be right at home on a bulky unit I own sometime soon. However, that’s about it beyond the orbs. Maybe I’m just feeling picky, which I know I shouldn’t considering there’s a full Tempest Trial coming at the end of the month that I’m sure will have all the cool stuff we could ask for.

img_6085

One thing this trial does have going for it is a pretty dope summoning focus banner based on the Bonus Allies. Basically everyone on the list is a super cool and powerful hero to have, so even though I haven’t decided whether to use my own orbs yet I know the risk will certainly be worth it for some.

For now, however, I’m sticking with Masked Lucina as my main multiplier. Girl puts in work with those stat buffs.

Unless more comes up as I play through the next week of fights, that’s really all I have to say about these Trials. I like the idea that miniature versions can exist, and I hope that means more events will be encouraged in the future, but this particular run doesn’t add too much to the overarching plot line or the pile of special prizes we’ve seen in the past.

If nothing else it simply serves as a nice transition into a focus on some Blazing Blade content. Speaking of, how’s about we move into the next thing.


Bound Hero Battle: Ephraim & Eirika

img_6074
Though I don’t normally talk about these events, the fact that Sacred Stones has been the focus makes it worth at least bringing up as a farewell of sorts.

The mid-to-late portion of August was spent in the world of Sacred Stones between new heroes and a Grand Hero Battle. By the looks of it, this event may be the last hurrah for it on Heroes for a while as things move into The Blazing Blade with the mini Tempest Trial.

Though I think it’s a shame, more than one game does deserve to have the spotlight. Life moves on and all that, so I’ll just look forward to the next shot we might get at Neimi. #NeverGiveUpNeverSurrender

In terms of the Bound Hero Battle itself there isn’t all that much to say. It features one difficult battle with three challenge levels that offer scaling rewards.

 

Hard mode gives out two orbs, Lunatic gives out three orbs and Infernal gives out a whopping four orbs. Nine orbs ain’t too shabby.

img_6077

For the actual playable map itself, I can’t honestly decipher which map from the original game it’s trying to emulate. This one seems just a bit too simple to really give any substantial hints in my opinion, though it has been driving me crazy enough that I tried doing some outside research on the matter.

My best guess is probably Ephraim’s first castle siege map in Chapter 5X or the much larger equivalent you get later on in Chapter 9, though I don’t know for sure. I just know that with the cavalier team I’ve been able to assemble since summoning Brave Lyn it honestly hasn’t been a huge hassle to at least get through Lunatic difficulty. Infernal is another matter entirely, but I have a few days to figure that out at this point.

Oh, and as an added note, thank god for Serenes Forest having these maps available to see. If it didn’t my wall would probably have a very distinct Jason-shaped hole in it right about now.

img_6086

The Bound Hero Battle also comes with a summoning banner featuring Eirika, Ephraim and Seth. The only one on the list that I don’t personally own is Ephraim, and considering he’s also on another banner that’s running at the same time…

img_6084

I probably won’t be summoning off of this focus. Sorry Ephraim, I’ll snatch you up eventually.



Boy oh boy that was a lot. On the bright side, I think that should cover my personal obligation to talk about Fire Emblem Heroes for a good while.

Or for at least a week. At which point we get new heroes according to the schedule. Then we’ll get another Bound Hero Battle, a full Tempest Trials run and some Fire Emblem Warriors-themed maps after that.

… Yeah alright, maybe there’s more coming up than I expected. Guess it’ll give me a nice break from the already ever-present slog of school if I make the time to talk about them.

Which of course I will, so look forward to some of that!

How do you feel about character pairings coming to the mobile Fire Emblem hit? Or about the prospects of a potentially more frequent miniature version of the Tempest Trials? Or about the many events coming down the pipeline? Let me know in the comments below!

September 6, 2017 Article Published

So technically this article does not have my byline, and I’m not looking to take credit for it by any means, but the story is important enough that I definitely feel like it’s worth sharing here.

Yesterday, the White House announced their plans to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and sent everyone into a tizzy – for lack of a better term with more gravitas. My co-editor Brandon and I jumped into action right when we found out, as he had preempted the possibility of things happening with a small story the day before.

Not only did we spend most of the afternoon out and about trying to do interviews with DACA-related officials and student activists responding on campus, we also scowered through Trump’s press statement, the statements released by higher ups like CSUF President Mildred Garcia and CSU Chancellor Timothy White and we staked out the Dreamers center to try and get some raw opinions on the subject. We did wind up succeeding on that front, where we also got access to some officials from other campus clubs and organizations who were visiting to give their condolences and support.

This was also the story that contained my little adventure trying to get an interview with Pollak Library Dean Clem Guthro. I elaborated on that in my last post about the Autry event I attended, but I still can’t get over the wonderful serendipity of it all. So why not call back to it again, am I right?

Unfortunately, that break at the Autry for Boom meant I had to spend a solid 5 hours of the night outside of the newsroom. Thus, while I did stay on call to help pass along sources (such as the extra Guthro interview) and edit the story, I was not able to be involved in actually writing the story.

The decision to go wound up being hard to make, as DACA was such an important story last night that I felt like it might even be worth skipping out on the Internship-based event I’d RSVP’d for at least three weeks ago. Brandon said he could handle it however, so I decided to go anyway. Luckily the event ended early enough that I was able to swing back to Fullerton to help close out the night, so I didn’t feel as bad by the end.

That’s why I don’t have a full byline in the story, as I wasn’t actually a serious part of writing the piece. Instead I got a contributing credit for all the work I helped put into it.

However that should by no means be taken as a complaint. Brandon did a phenomenal job pulling together all of the elements we collected into a succinct, engaging story. I actually had next to nothing as far as corrections went when I looked over it from the Autry. He wholeheartedly deserves the credit he got, and I’m happy just being a part of it.

I just happen to appreciate a little self-promotion, so I figured it was worth pushing this one out on my blog for the sake of my part in writing it. On top of the massive emotional impact and great reporting, of course.

If you want to read the article in its entirety, you can see it here. Brandon really did a wonderful job and it’s definitely worth the look. Beyond that, if you want to see my full breadth of writing for the Daily Titan, you can find it over on the right!