Tag: DT

The… Anti-Summer 2018 Initiative?

The… Anti-Summer 2018 Initiative?

Greetings and salutations.

As you may have noticed, things have been a little different around here recently. A little more barren.

Don’t worry, it’s not a symptom of finally running out of ideas. I did that about a year ago and wrote about my pencil set.

Nor is it some delusion that my Naruto-Arena post is the peak of my creativity (though I like that post and you should read it if you haven’t).

There has actually been plenty of exciting blog fodder over the last week.

I attended Alyson’s fourth 4th of July parade and survived the concurrent earthquake.

I also survived the subsequent 7.1 earthquake that struck California.

Though to be fair I was far out of the range of both, and you should follow my old Daily Titan colleague Lauren Jennings to see more of the damage in Ridgecrest.

My Bachelor’s degree was finally shipped.

Over the last few weeks my family has also sat down and binged a few shows:

Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video (which has a phenomenal underlying controversy) and Stranger Things season 3 on Netflix. Both of which are extremely well-constructed and receive honest recommendations.

Even if part of my interest in Stranger Things comes from our long-time investment.

Beyond all that, I’ve also been playing a lot of Fire Emblem Warriors.

The game has been far more fun than I expected, and incorporates a number of intriguing elements in a novel gameplay style for my prior experiences. Interesting elements that might make for a perfect post.

Yet I haven’t written about any of those things.

You see, let’s go back to my Summer Initiative. It was a sort of challenge to myself:

“You’re not working on the Daily Titan right now,” I said. “So why not try writing something every day to keep your skills sharp?”

The drive to write more led to an increase in site traffic and a subsequent sense of pride that has extended my near-daily posts for about a year.

So much so that I used its existence as a part of a freelancing pitch.

With all that said, you might be wondering why I haven’t written in six days.

It turns out I might have conditioned myself to care about blogging a little too much. For some time now, what I’m blogging every day has been the focal point of all my writer’s stress.

Which is kind of a problem when you have a book you want to finish.

Thus I decided to scale back as a test. Would I be more productive on my book if I stopped focusing on daily blog posts?

As it turns out, I have been.

Over the last week I’ve gotten myself to nearly 300 pages, and I believe that’s as good a sign as any that I should scale back my blog stuff until I get through the novel.

Currently my anti-Summer Initiative is shaping up to be blog posts over the weekend while keeping my weekdays free to write the book. I’d like to finish my first draft before Mom and Aly get back from New York at the end of July.

The weekend will probably have at least one week-in-review and quicker one-offs like a piece on Spider-Man: Far From Home that I’ll write after seeing the film tomorrow.

And I’ll leave myself open to the occasional weekday post. Because I’m a Fire Emblem Heroes addict and Intelligent Systems lied about fewer summer banners.

But otherwise I’m trying more life updates through Twitter and Instagram during the week — as you can see throughout this post.

So if you’re interested in keeping up, go ahead and follow me there!

Alumni business

Alumni business

While a lot of this happened yesterday, I spent extra time throwing things together for a more fleshed out blog post now.

Just after Graduation a few weeks ago, I joined the Cal State Fullerton Alumni Association.

See? Tweeted and everything to prove it.

After a good amount of time spent resting, helping with the RUHS Band’s Silent Auction and dealing with car troubles, I finally drove back to Fullerton so I could pick up the swag that comes with my membership:

  • One big Alumni tote bag
  • One sleek and silver CSUF keychain
  • One AAA membership discount coupon that I don’t really need because my family is already a long-time member
  • One Alumni Association membership card that allows me to still use on-campus services, attend different events and receive discounts
  • A collection of partially-expired vouchers with offers including more discounts and one-day parking permits
  • And finally, one fancy license plate cover:
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Edited to be social media friendly.

Part of me feels that it’s perhaps cheesy to lean into the “I’m an alum!” mentality so hard on a public-facing medium like license plates…

But at the same time I put in four years of hard work and walked off that campus with a bunch of accolades.

So I think I’m allowed to be a little cheesy.

Plus this is the first time I’ve replaced that cover since purchasing the car at least four years ago and it was kind of falling apart. Who would’ve guessed this oddball collection of gifts would already be coming in handy?

It’s just too bad I didn’t have the free parking vouchers before getting to campus yesterday, as it turns out my last parking permit expired at the end of May.

Though that expiration does offer me the chance to show off a now-complete collection of permits:

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Some of my CSUF friends will yell at me for wasting so much money…

But hey, at least I got all of these permits in before the upcoming price hike, and they makes for a cool physical manifestation of my invested time.

Even with that El Camino College permit breaking up the uniformity.

Going to Cal State Fullerton was interesting beyond just noticing my permit expiration, however. In my four years at CSUF, three of which included work on the school newspaper, I somehow never made it to the Golleher Alumni House.

I did pass by this side of the building because of its proximity to the police station and Titan Student Union:

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But imagine my surprise when it turns out that large gate wasn’t the main entrance.

Rather, I had to circle around to this entrance I’d never seen before.

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You can see the State College parking structure in the background.

Once I found my way to the entrance, there isn’t much to say about actually picking up the Alumni swag.

Luckily I anticipated that.

Part of my afternoon was devoted to writing that Pokémon Sword and Shield Direct post, but I also arranged lunch with my friend Mimi at one of her favorite restaurants in Downtown Fullerton:

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Monkey Business Cafe is a place I’ve heard many things about through publications like Tusk because of their focus on helping homeless or foster youth who may not have the opportunity to get job experience anywhere else.

I’d just never made the time to go there for whatever reason.

But now I have, and I made their burger a litmus test for how good the food is:

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Because I love me some burgers.

It was… Okay. Not a particularly special meal.

Though to be fair Mimi got waffles and those looked really good, so perhaps the joint shines more on the breakfast side of its brunch offerings.

Either way I had a good time and the meal was decently cheap. I can’t complain.

Statistically surpassing 2017

Statistically surpassing 2017

About three days ago, the amount of views my blog has accrued this year surpassed the total from 2017.

With a lead-in sentence like that I’m sure you’re expecting this post to be an exercise in prideful self-fellatio.

To an extent I suppose it is, but part of the reason why it’s cool is because of interesting insights I believe I can pull out of the analytics. As I tend to look at.

For instance, here are the yearly statistics as of my writing this:

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The bar graph shows an overall trend toward increasing views, and that’s sensible considering my blog has evolved from a class requirement to a digital resume and regular part of my writing life.

In 2018 the number of views jumped sizably compared to the growth from 2016 to 2017 due to my Summer Initiative and its aftermath.

Last summer was when I shifted the emphasis of my blog from writing a few times a month (mostly archiving stories) to writing nearly every day.

The jump from 1,944 to 4,210 views makes sense when audiences have a higher volume of content to consume on an almost daily schedule.

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Notice the shift around June 2018.

And that was when I only wrote daily for half the year.

This year I’m halfway to that number and we’re only at the end of May, which bodes well for further growth. Especially if I get a few more breakout posts like my Redondo Union Archives write-up:

Post uploaded on March 25, 2019

I may be on-track to surpass 2018 in views, but other aspects are faltering.

“Likes” is one statistic I have trouble explaining due to the lack of a noticeable tracker on WordPress. I can tell you that I received 129 likes on my posts in 2018 compared to the paltry seven in 2019 so far, but I can’t tell you why that might be.

However, I can say something about the trend in daily views and viewers.

As you can see in the 2017 v. 2019 analytics, I surpassed my views from two years ago with about 30 fewer individual visitors.

I’ve also noticed a pattern of more views-per-day recently in spite of less visitors coming overall. I used to see about six or seven views at most every day, but recently it has hovered closer to 20:

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Even yesterday, where I was so busy with family Memorial Day barbecuing and playing Minecraft with my friends that I didn’t write a blog post, my site received 33 views.

The last time I hit views near that high was April 24, when I wrote about my collection of graduation gowns.

If nothing else, I hope this post can be a positive affirmation for you regular viewers that people notice when you put extra energy into something. Even when that something is as silly as a personal blog.

I find the analytics fascinating to sort through so I hope you found them just as interesting to consume!

But if you didn’t, how about you take a look at this views-per-country breakdown:

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Because the map is always a fun thing to see in my opinion.


Featured Image courtesy of Carlos Muza via Wikimedia Commons

My Senior Honors Project debrief

My Senior Honors Project debrief

These graduation milestones are really starting to gear up.

Today’s adventure took me out to Fullerton with my parents so I could officially give my Senior Honors Project presentation.

It has been literal years in the making. After I spent some time reflecting on my novel and compiling the work behind it into a PowerPoint, I was finally ready to cap off my time in the Honors Program by speaking on a panel about creative writing projects.

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Here’s me with Valerie on the right and Stephanie on the left.

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When I attended Welcome to CSUF day four years ago, I was intimidated by the project during the Honors Program introduction. The idea of a year-long, self-driven (for all intents and purposes) undergraduate thesis that had no guidelines was terrifying.

I was able to stave off the fear by remembering the long college career I’d have before it would be a concern, and by latching onto people like Dr. Sexton — who I met that day and would later take his class. Which led to much more.

But the fear of the Senior Honors Project never fully went away.

Even when I decided what I wanted to do for my project, there was a period where I fell behind on my Honors courses because I couldn’t find a mentor. Then Dr. Rizzo came along and helped change my trajectory.

Yet the prep for a creative writing piece didn’t click as easily as journalism, which the recent Comm Awards showed I’m decent with.

However, being at the end of the road has given me hope that perhaps I haven’t been bad at the Honors Project thing either.

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Technically the certificate was from the COMM college, but still.

As I’ve transitioned from figuring out the scope of my project to actually preparing and writing, my fears also refocused from uncertainty and lack of guidance to figuring out how to share my work in a way that really conveys how special it is to me.

I practiced my presentation after the Honors Gala last night and it felt a bit shaky.

But in front of a crowd of my peers and mentors, things went exceptionally well. Mom even got some pictures of me doing my thing:

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She caught some good moments. Me with my characters and my little yellow book.

The presentation went off without a hitch, and I was more than ready to answer a questions from the audience. So it was great.

But once everything was said and done, the post-panel interactions went even better.

I got to introduce both of my parents to Dr. Rizzo (though she met my Dad at the COMM Awards) and had a blast watching them interact.

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It was even more fun to give her the gift I’ve been preparing.

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Surprise, this piece was for her all along!

I had to thank her for all of her help thus far, after all.

She cried. Which was an unexpected, but sweet little surprise.

Dr. Simoes was at the event, which was a great surprise considering a section of my presentation was dedicated to his help finding resources for my imagined civilizations.

So was Tyler Siedentopp — though that makes sense considering he’s the program’s Co-Curricular Coordinator. Turned out to be a nice way to wrap up our time together.

The most surprising attendee was College of Communications Dean Ed Fink. Everyone on my panel was a COMM student, but I was not expecting someone like him to come.

Apparently he had some very nice things to say to my parents after my presentation. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation, since it seems like I’ve made a good impression all around campus.

If I have any negatives about the cathartic day of presenting, it’s that I have even more hardware to put on during graduation.

I swear I’ll pass out from heat stroke in the mid-May sun.

But you know what, it’ll all have been worth it considering the kinds of personal enlightenment I’ve felt getting there!

Tales from a digital voice

Tales from a digital voice

With the end of the semester coming up, we had our last big Society of Professional Journalists event today.

It was another guest speaker: Sonya Quick from the nonprofit Voice of OC.

Plus donuts. But the donuts unfortunately did not get into this Tweet I did:

This talk was slightly less hands-on than our last guest’s discussion of useful apps, but the focus toward online content engagement was certainly just as noteworthy.

Voice of OC has a strong recent history with CSUF and the Daily Titan. My old mentor Spencer Custodio is one of five full-time reporters for their newsroom, and my old News Desk Assistant Brandon Pho is a reporting intern there.

I was the middle generation that missed out on that family tradition I suppose. Gladeo got to me first, or I just might have considered it.

Getting to hear Sonya share some things she’s picked up during her time at Voice of OC, as well as other papers like the OC Register, was great.

One of her first comments was about the importance of being straight-forward:

“I’m an emotion on your sleeves kind of gal. If I have a complaint about something, I won’t hold back.”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

She reportedly has not held back in the past, being responsible for manifestos that encouraged organizations to focus more on digital, and later mobile, reporting as those came into vogue (especially pertinent now, as she says that reporters should think with their phones first).

Yet, she also fielded a question from our Chapter President Harrison Faigen about how to not take editorial criticism too personally.

She said that taking things personally is not a problem unless it impedes your work, because the emotions show you care.

However, even more of an important point — and one that strangely echos sentiments I’ve gotten from my parents — was that the time to get concerned is when an editor does not read or critique your work.

The more effort they put into tearing apart your story, the more they care and believe you can be even better than you are.

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“Our goal is not to impact decisions, but to get people involved.”

A number of other topics were on the docket for our hour-long meeting:

  • She recommended hiring staff “by passion, not by skill,” as she herself did not know much about the digital world before jumping into it.
  • Her two major rules for creating good search engine optimization in stories were:
    • Don’t scam people. Ever.
    • Write content people care about, especially “guide-like content” that can be built-up over time. Much more engaging than daily event stories.
  • When making videos, she recommended editing them down to one minute each and focusing on pre-planning with storyboards to avoid overshooting.
  • While for-profit organizations often only look at whether a reporter’s work garners clicks, she said Voice of OC looks at overall impact through shares, comments and other social engagements.

Then, as any good editor would, she plugged a great piece published that morning with a juicy DUI scandal going on.

There were a few other tidbits that made me laugh throughout her talk.

For instance, when I asked her about dealing with vitriol in those previously noted engagements she said she has had to wade through the “Seventh Circle of Hell” looking at the OC Register comment section.

But the really important takeaway would have to be what she said of being a reporter, in reference to many college students with Communications degrees leaving the industry early, or not going into the industry at all:

“You work long hours, you get little money and you get shit on almost constantly. But it’s awesome! And you have an impact!”

— Sonya Quick, Voice of OC

If that isn’t true love for one’s occupation, I don’t know what is.

Saying Sayonara to 2018

Saying Sayonara to 2018

I’m sure most people would agree that 2018 was a maddening political clusterfuck, no matter which side of the aisle or where in the world you sit.

While I can’t help but agree with the hope of moving past that in the new year… At the same time, I sort of disconnected myself from the news-y world in 2018 and focused a lot more on myself.

Overall that wasn’t a bad decision. A lot of nice things came out of the more chill personal year!

For instance, all the video games I played. Did my big splurge on that yesterday so you don’t have to be bogged down with it here.

This post is more about my actual life and times.

Seemingly the most poignant place to start charting out my year is with my health. That feels ironic considering the first week of Winter Break was spent dying in bed, but I’m talking about the grand scheme of things.

A sizable chunk of my 2017 year in review was devoted to finding out about my blood disorder, ITP, and crazy things like the hospital stay that resulted from our early attempts to treat it.

It’s kind of insane to think that we’re more than a year out from that now, especially since so much of my stress at the time was getting better enough to cover Milo Yiannopoulos at Halloween.

Equally hard to believe I spoke at a conference about that coverage this year.

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He’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Tangent aside, this year I never had a big medical scare. In fact, the whole incident inspired me to be better to myself, as this summer I started regularly going to the gym for the first time.

Even lost a little bit of weight in the process. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if a few weeks of holiday eating and falling behind while sick reversed that progress.

The summer was also significant to my personal growth this year because I started my Summer 2018 Initiative: Writing something here on my blog every day.

My drive to force myself to become better at my craft each and every day persisted past the summer and into the fall semester. Then my buddy Spencer encouraged me to try to be concise with all of my posts for the sake of practicing, which has definitely helped.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve cut an extra 500 words off of these since.

Speaking of, 2018 was when I turned 21 and got to enjoy some of the perks of that! Like going to comedy shows at bars. Or meeting up with friends at bars to celebrate things.

Sure, I may have found out I’m not a fan of drinking, but a whole new world of spending time with people has opened up.

Back to the original point though. Putting more effort into my blog has proven fruitful, because as it turns out posting something every day really drives up that website traffic:

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Can’t wait to see how big that bar gets in 2019 when I hopefully get a whole year of pseudo-daily posts out!

Also on the media front, I finally caved and got a few new gizmos to play with this year. Instagram, Paypal, LinkedIn, Discord…

I don’t know that I’d say any of them have significantly impacted my life per-say, but Instagram and LinkedIn have been interesting insights into the world of photo-based and work-based media.

Ah, did I say the dreaded “w” word? Guess I should talk about that too.

2018 was a bizarre transitional period for work. The spring semester had me stepping down as an editor at the Daily Titan so I could focus on writing for the journalism capstone class.

Some really great articles came out of that, including fun reviews, covering the Sports Clubs Inter-Club Council and this soon-to-be award-winning piece about restaurant gradings around campus.

However, I decided not to return to the paper for the fall semester. Gave more priority to my major and minor classes, knowing graduation is slowly rearing its ugly head.

Quicker than I thought it would be at the beginning of 2018, I should say. A really happy part of the year was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project and working things out with the program director to graduate on-time rather than needing an extra semester!

On top of that, I won a pretty huge scholarship over the summer and followed that up by receiving a promotion at Gladeo to head the reporter-interns. Not only did I get to do some really cool interviews and stories, I also got to start working on management outside of the school paper.

Also I covered Obama for Boom.

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Enough said.

I suppose that really caps off all the big things I can recall. Sure there were some smaller things like going on my first real date with a girl, cracking open my old desktop and finding some wonderful things and finally shaving my beard for the first time since 2016.

But otherwise that seems like as much fellating myself as I can handle for one year.

So! Here’s hoping even more great things happen in 2019, where it seems I’m slated to finally move past my schooling days and enter the workforce full-time.

Yikes.

Let me know about some of the great things that happened with you this year, with all the negativity buzzing around on TV I’d absolutely love to hear why 2018 was great for people!

My top 10 games of 2018

My top 10 games of 2018

I always feel like it’s cliché for me to throw one of these lists together since it’s something EVERYONE does. But the more I think of it as a window into what I love, the less bad I feel about it.

After all, looking at my 2017 list pretty much just reminded me that I had to cop-out with mobile games and Jackbox because I played so few games. Pretty wild.

This year I don’t have that problem luckily! Just remember the most important rule of all with a list like this:

  1. This is all my opinion, so don’t get your panties in a twist if I don’t talk about your favorite game (there are plenty of experiences unfortunately still sitting on my wishlist).

 

10.

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Don’t Starve and the number 9 game on this list may have been higher, but they’re both technically re-releases of games that I played years ago. So to be fair to newer games, I decided to keep them on the lower end.

Don’t let the low score deceive you, however. I love Don’t Starve as much as anything else on the list, if not more for nostalgia’s sake!

Alongside The Binding of Isaac, Terraria and FTL (and no I haven’t had the chance to play Into the Breach yet… Sorry Kyle), this Tim Burton-styled survival game was one of the most played titles in my Steam library years ago.

I can still vividly recount stories of playing the game in my 10th grade Journalism room, which would later become my 11th grade AP Language classroom.

It was a strange transition.

The important thing to know is that this game meant a lot to me, so when it got a re-released on the Switch I knew I had to jump back on the train.

It’s a really solid port, even if the Switch controls take a little time to adjust to.

I also officially “beat” the game for the first time this year! So the port gets some brownie points for that.

Add the portability of playing a game with such a unique world and art style on the go, and I’ll absolutely recommend Don’t Starve any day.


9.

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Ah yes, Minecraft.

Just what is there to say about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said?

It’s the survival/building blocky simulator that took the world by storm, inspired a trillion clones and now serves as a permanent cash cow for Microsoft. I absolutely adored Minecraft for years on both my desktop computer and Xbox 360. I even downloaded the Technic Modpack back in the day after watching the Yogscast.

While the game disappeared from my radar, the Switch brought it back to life for my friends and I.

As soon as this port dropped we all jumped on and had a ball playing over the summer. Now that I can capture pictures off my Switch I should go back and show you all some of the amazing stuff we built together.

Unfortunately, once the game shifted to be the all-encompassing Microsoft edition (and once the semester started) we all dropped off.

But if nothing else, Minecraft remains a great cooperative option for us to play together going forward.


8.

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Wizard of Legend is the first of what I would consider a Renaissance of indie games on the Switch that kept me gaming more than I usually would this year.

I love Wizard of Legend. Especially considering the dev team (Contingent99) is made up of two people, the fact that such a beautiful and fun title exists in the marketplace is a true testament to gaming culture in 2018.

It’s a fast-paced roguelike dungeon crawler that lets you blast out massive elemental attacks as though you’re the Avatar. AND it’s couch co-op.

Unfortunately, the game’s content is admittedly a bit shallow. As an experience Wizard of Legend rules, but once you’ve collected all the spells, you’ve kind of seen everything.

It’s a game I’ll happily return to and play again, and I by no means regret spending my money. But there just happen to be some better, similar games on this list.


7.

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I might have put this higher if I had gotten around to it sooner.

Pokémon Let’s Go is the amalgamated child of a Generation 1 remake and the capturing style of the mobile title Pokémon GO that took the world by storm a few summers back.

It’s about as casual a Pokémon experience as you can get, and for long-time fans such as myself there are very strange choices made (like who decided to only make PC access from the bag?).

But that being said, it’s an absolutely gorgeous Switch game, and every time I interact with Eevee my calloused heart melts.

The biggest selling point of Let’s Go for me is that it’s a couch co-op game I can play with my sister. If we weren’t only about five hours and three badges into the game, it might easily top this list because of the fun we’ve had yelling at the screen so far.

If you have a younger sibling (or romantic partner?), this is the game that perfectly bridges the gap between forced co-op and pretending to let them help in a single player title.

Like I used to do a lot, admittedly.


6.

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I have mixed emotions about Kirby Star Allies.

As a long-time fan of the Kirby series, I was really looking forward to the pink puffball’s next generation console game. That said, I wasn’t disappointed by how much of a fun Kirby game it was.

I even got a nice Daily Titan article out with my initial reactions, and that somehow has nearly 5,000 views?

Wow, how did that happen?

Anyway though, as fun as the game is, it’s seriously lacking in terms of difficulty and narrative — even for Kirby, who isn’t usually known for those elements.

Because of that I don’t feel like I can pick up the game as often as Squeak Squad or Super Star Ultra. But that being said… A ton of DLC came out for the game after I put it down, and I admittedly haven’t tried most of the new Dream Characters.

So hey, maybe it’s a lot better than where I left it the first time! Just based on my experiences now however, it seems like a solid fit for number 6.


5.

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I wrote a whole blog post about Deltarune weeks ago when I finally got around to playing it, so you can see my in-depth thoughts there.

What I will say is that much like its predecessor Undertale, Deltarune has a ton of mental staying power. It’s arguably the game I played for the least amount of time this year, but I hold it in high regard because I keep humming that glorious battle theme and thinking about all the possibilities of future installments.

It’s a game you just need to experience to understand. If you’re a fan of Toby Fox I’m sure you already have, but even if you haven’t played Undertale it might still be worth a look for fans of wacky fourth-wall comedy and Final Fantasy-esque gameplay.

I promise it’s worth diving down the rabbit hole.


4.

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Enter the Gungeon is kind of the game I wish Wizard of Legend was.

It’s a remarkably similar, being a roguelike dungeon crawler, but something about the way Gungeon’s five randomized levels are utilized makes them feel so much more fresh over a long period of time than Wizard of Legend’s three two-act levels.

Perhaps it has to do with the art style? Both are gorgeous examples of sprite work, but Gungeon’s aesthetic of gun puns galore seems more entrancing and unique.

Perhaps it has to do with the weapon variety? All of the spells in Wizard are great, but their numbers pale in comparison to just how many guns and combination effects are in Gungeon.

Perhaps it has to do with the supplementary content? Wizard boils down to collecting the spells and costumes, but Gungeon has a series of underlying story “quests” and NPCs who give you extra tasks to complete while you unlock more weapons and power-ups.

Both of these games are wonderful, but Enter the Gungeon stands much taller in terms of its content and replayability. A testament to the breadth of skill from a studio like Dodge Roll under Devolver Digital.


3.

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Much like Minecraft, what is there to say about Super Smash Bros. that hasn’t already been said?

I wrote a long post the other day about how much I love the single-player stuff in Ultimate, which has given me dozens of hours of enjoyment.

But that alone shouldn’t have skyrocketed the game to number 3 on my list, right?

I’ll admit, I’m giving Smash Ultimate some proactive credit. Simply because it’s Smash Bros., I know for a fact it’s going to be relevant for years in professional, competitive settings and among during casual friend hangouts.

Plus there are DLC characters already in the works, and I’m dying to play as Piranha Plant!

So yeah, Smash Bros. is a super fun game that I’m really glad is going to live on for years. As a result, it garners top billing.

… But really, what else did you expect from a Nintendo fanboy like me?


2.

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Hollow Knight is easily the best game I’ve played this year.

It has a darker art style, sense of humor and scale that create one of the richest worlds I’ve played with in years. Even the horrid Deepnest, a place I still shutter thinking about months later.

The gameplay is tight, offering a metroidvania experience which truly gets more fun as you advance through it by empowering the player’s exploration and combat abilities.

It’s also remarkably open-world in spite of needing certain abilities to advance in different areas, as my friends Jonathan and Juan each went through the game in completely different ways than I did.

The story is somber and open to interpretation. There are hints of different things going on that can only be discovered through a player’s curiosity.

Hollow Knight is also full of great characters who at times embody well-known tropes, but at other times subvert them in heartbreaking ways. One of my favorite characters is a bug girl who simply dies unceremoniously.

My love came from simply imagining the larger role that she could have had which was tragically cut short. That’s good implicit storytelling.

The game is seriously unique and I would say anyone should experience it.

There’s also a whole host of DLC available that makes the game even more impressive! When it dropped on the Switch this year, I knew it was something I had to play based on the recommendations of a ton of my friends, and boy did it not disappoint.

Hollow Knight seriously would have been my favorite game this year… If something else hadn’t stolen my heart in a different way.


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So. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate came out on Switch this year.

I’ve been a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing 4U on the 3DS. The series scratches all of my gaming itches: Impressively designed beasts to admire, fitting battle music for every situation, luck-based schedules of reinforcement with item collection and (of course) lots of armor and skills to facilitate hours of pre-planning and designing.

I wrote a whole blog post about that earlier this year, because it’s honestly one of those things that drives my fervor for a game.

However, what made Gen Ultimate surpass every other game I’ve played this year was how the Nintendo Switch made it perfect bait for my friends and I to spend hours hunting.

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Yeah, I no-lifed this game super hard as my stress relief.

The crazy thing is, even with all those hours put in I still have a dozen different armor sets in mind that I want to build. Even for weapons I’m trying outside of my favorite Hunting Horn style!

It may not be the deepest game from a narrative perspective, or the most novel game from a mechanical perspective…

But with nearly 100 large monsters and infinite possibilities to dick around with friends, Monster Hunter succeeds at being the game I’ve had the most fun with this year. As well as being the game I know I’ll continue to love in 2019!


In case the pattern wasn’t clear, 2018 was a great year for my Nintendo Switch. That console has really come into its own far more than the Wii U ever did (particularly with indie games), and I’m so glad to see it.

That said, let me know what some of your favorite games of the year were! I obviously don’t own a PS4 or an Xbox One and couldn’t put any games from those libraries on the list, but I know there were some phenomenal showings all across the board.

Here’s to 2019 being as great a year for gaming as 2018 was!

A smashing blast to the past

A smashing blast to the past

Gotta love tentpole programming.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is officially out today! Even though I haven’t personally gotten my hands on it just yet, by all accounts it promises to be a fantastic collection of all the greatest parts of the series’ 19-year history.

I’m excited to get my hands on this sucker, because I’ve been a pretty hardcore fan of Masahiro Sakurai’s wonderful party fighter games since Melee on the GameCube.

Melee was quite literally a game that defined my young childhood, with many birthday parties spent playing as Young Link on the “Great Bay” stage from Majora’s Mask (many years before I actually played its game of origin).

Brawl was the game that offered my core friend group, from middle school on, to duke it out, find our main characters and test our creativity building our own fields of combat.

Smash 4 brings with it memories of being so excited that I played the demo endlessly during art class in senior year, time that left me proficient in newcomer Mega Man as much as I would be proficient in Lucina — my current main character, passed along from Marth before her.

Yet the fourth entry in the series became so much more. Long nights in the Daily Titan newsroom were more manageable after my boi Aaron Valdez brought his Wii U and we held DT tournaments.

Hell I even have some fond memories of the original Smash Bros., despite the fact that I never owned a Nintendo 64. I distinctly remember going to an animation camp while visiting my grandparents in Florida one summer, and a major highlight of the camp was getting there early to play on some of the consoles available in their waiting room.

My attachment to the series went far deeper than just playing the games with my friends, however.

When Stephen Hillenberg died a few weeks ago, writing my blog obituary for him brought back a lot of memories. One of the most potent memories was attending a sprite animation camp (here in California) over a summer with my friend Mitchell Winn from all the way back in elementary school.

Thanks to that camp, I learned a good many things about grabbing sprites from my favorite games off of The Spriters Resource and using them in different projects.

I took on ambitious sprite projects in the months and years to follow. Including recreating that famous Band Geeks halftime scene from Spongebob with video game characters.

One other project that felt pertinent to today required going back into my old desktop Mac.

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This dinosaur literally hasn’t been touched since 2012 based on the security update. Thus it has become a crystalized time capsule for 15-year-old Jason.

I had so much fun going through this thing that I’m going to talk more about my discoveries later this weekend.

But for now, the important connection back to Smash Bros. were these desktop wallpapers I made using character sprites from various games and other fan projects:

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The Featured Image, a classic fight between Link, Charizard (sans Pokémon trainer as this was the Brawl era), Kirby and Marth on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”
SSBB Battle Battlefield Stage
Four hatted-Kirby duke it out on Melee’s “Battlefield.”
SSBB Battle Yoshi Stage
Pikachu, Yoshi, Marth and Falco fight on “Yoshi’s Island,” where Marth shows off his Dolphin Slash. A favorite move of mine, clearly.
SSBB Battle Mario Stage
The Mario Bros. take on Link and Sonic on the aptly named “Mario Bros.” stage.
SSBB Battle Final Stage
A slightly askew duel between Samus, Fox, Zelda and a very tiny Captain Falcon on Brawl’s version of “Final Destination.”
SSBB Battle Onett Stage
One of my prouder pieces from what I remember, in which Ness knocks Kirby out of the park in his home turf of “Onett.”
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We return to “Mario Bros.” so the Bros. can confront a series of variant Sonics each colored after Chaos Emeralds. Not sure if these are the classic Chaos Emerald colors, but the different poses are sweet if you ask me.
SSBB Battle Temple Scene
It’s a race for the Master Sword between Link and Young Link (clearly set during the Melee era) on the leftmost side of the “Temple” battleground.
SSBB Battle Subcon Stage
Apparently I predicted Smash Ultimate being a thing years ago by pitting the (at the time) Melee-exclusive Mewtwo and Brawl-exclusive Snake on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”

Would have helped if I made them all the same size so they didn’t get stretched out when I rotated them as wallpapers. But hey, eight years ago.

All of these babies were created between May and June of 2010 using Graphic Converter, as I never learned Photoshop or anything.

2010! I know I spent all this time building up 15-year-old Jason, but these specifically are all a product of 13-year-old Jason’s ingenuity.

Now that Smash Ultimate is out, I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon so I can start to make some new memories with that game. Perhaps a few of them will come somewhere remotely close to leaving an impression as strong as the older titles.

Here’s to everyone having a happy Smash Ultimate day!

Changing of the seasons

Changing of the seasons

If I have any people to thank for just about all of the great stuff that has happened to me over the last three+ years, Bonnie Stewart has to be a big one.

Today, current and old members of the Daily Titan staff threw our favorite advisor a surprise party before her retirement from CSUF.

It was a sad day not just for all of us in the newsroom who have come to love Bonnie over her last five-and-a-half years advising the school’s newspaper, but also for nature in general apparently. The universe itself seemed to cry at the idea of her moving on from all of us students.

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Easily one of our heaviest rainstorms in years.

Not sure why pictures of the Pollak Library seem to be my barometer for things happening at Cal State Fullerton, but between this and my empty library picture from before Thanksgiving break I seem to be developing a pattern.

In this case I suppose I can blame it on the torrential downpour, which necessitated me to take a picture from inside the cozy warmth of a Starbucks post-meeting in the Honors Center rather than getting my phone drenched. I’m not kidding, it really came down like cats and dogs.

Pretty sure I hydroplaned at least once on the freeway going in this morning, and it was extra fun having copious amounts of water splash up against my windshield from adjacent cars.

… Alright maybe that’s enough complaining about the rain. This is supposed to be something of a celebratory ‘thank you’ kind of post after all.

Plus the rain had dried up by the time I left at about 6:00 p.m., four hours or so after the party for Bonnie began.

Nailed the transition

I wasn’t expecting the party to be very long or busy, but I’m glad I was wrong. Not only was it great seeing a packed newsroom show up to celebrate Bonnie, but a lot of those people were friends I haven’t had the chance to catch up with for a while!

Also, it gave my mom an opportunity to do some holiday baking for a crowd outside the usual suspects. By the end of the night there were only three pieces of her coffee cake left, and Bonnie liked it so much that she was happy to take the recipe.

While it was nice catching up with people like Kyle Bender, Amy Wells or Darlene Casas, meeting some older staff members like Samuel Mountjoy, Julia Gutierrez and Michael Huntley, and just generally schmoozing with a bunch of people and food, obviously Bonnie was the lady of the hour.

I’ve actually known about her retirement longer than most (from what I’m aware), as she was one of the first people I had approached to possibly be a mentor for my Honors Project. She had to turn me down since she wouldn’t have been around long enough to see the project through, and since then I’ve had to keep that little secret under lock-and-key.

Feels pretty nice to not have to hold onto it any longer… But it feel even more nice knowing that she trusted me with the secret in the first place.

Three+ years of working with Bonnie has undoubtedly made me a better person and a better journalist/writer/academic/anything, really. Any award I’ve received while at Cal State Fullerton, as well as any internship I’ve gotten as a result of my time at the Daily Titan, can all be tied back to her influence in some respect.

It was bittersweet to imagine her not having that same influence on others going forward as a result. But I know she’s off to do great things even in retirement, and I’m as excited to see where she lands as I’m sure she’s excited to see me (and all her students) land in jobs they deserve.

Editorializing

Apparently I’m such a good Daily Titan employee that even after leaving the staff I’m still winning awards and getting copy filled in print.

Is something I would say if I were being self-serving and full of myself. Because yes, I am here to talk about how I technically have some sort of byline in the Daily Titan today.

It’s just a bit more complicated than that. So this post is going to be dedicated more to me figuring out exactly how I want to classify this than it is just talking about what it is in detail.

However I can’t just be vague and dance around things forever, so here’s some context.

The president of Cal State Fullerton’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter whipped up an editorial to run in the paper regarding President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric in the aftermath of events like the bomb threats last week.

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The editorial was meant to coincide with a statement put out by the national SPJ President Alex Tarquinio a few weeks back. Pretty much everyone on the board for our SPJ chapter got to read over the piece, comment our potential concerns and sign off on it in the end.

It’s hard not to argue that President Trump’s rhetoric has caused or at least perpetuated some issues for members of the press as well as the general public, so I was plenty willing to sign my name to the statement. Overall it actually made for a cool little coming together group moment that I haven’t gotten a lot of thanks to my asymmetrical schedule compared to the rest of the board people.

I’m just not entirely sure whether or not I can now take the statement and use it as an example of something I was involved with as an SPJ board member. Technically yes, my name is on it and it’s a statement by the board as a whole. But I didn’t really do a lot of work for it.

So if I put the editorial in my list of published stories, would that be weird? Should I make a separate category for things I’ve done as a part of SPJ and include this as a part of that page?

I’m not entirely sure what the proper etiquette would be.

Honestly I don’t think it matters all that much either, but these small issues always seem to be what stress me out the most. See my prior post where I talk about trying to come up with a ‘working title’ for my Honors project in spite of the fact that it literally didn’t matter.

I won’t bore you all much longer with my meaningless internal debate about whether I can credit myself for being part of a group that does a thing.

To end this short post off, I also wanted to give a quick shout out to this issue of the Daily Titan as a whole. While I’ve been reading their stories on my own time, I obviously haven’t put as much energy into promoting the paper as a whole since I’m not on staff this semester. That doesn’t mean the story quality is any worse however, and they’re still worth giving props where it’s due.

For instance, I really like the Midterm voter guide this semester.

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This first page has a great infographic map about voting locations around CSUF, and there’s more details within regarding the congressional races relevant to Fullerton and little blurbs on each of the California propositions.

It all looks really nice and is way more simple overall than some special issues I’ve been a part of in the past, which I would argue is really effective.

So… Yeah.

Support your local papers everyone. They’re important.