Tag: News

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.

Pay your Copy Editors

As of tonight, I break away from classes to celebrate Spring Break 2019.

It promises to be more of a workation this year. Not to say that I’ve ever been the hard partying Spring Breakers type in the first place, but I usually chill when I can.

However, 2019 is throwing all that out the window.

While all those peers I don’t know are off in Cancún, I’ll be at home writing my novel and racking up Internship hours.

My regular schoolwork has left me a bit behind on those projects, so the extra time is a godsend. For Gladeo, I have a bunch of work stored up that I just need to sit down and finish.

Editing a piece, completing my own piece, planning a video shoot for later and transcribing the interview I’ll be conducting, and more.

No idea whether my blog post tomorrow is going to be about that interview or the Fire Emblem Heroes banner that’s dropping.

Or I might do both. Who knows!

For tonight, all I know is I’m going to relax and write a nice, easy post.

At the end of writing about the SPJ guest speaker last night, I noted seeing an echo of things from my time at CSUF.

Today I’ve noticed a few other things. Including my love affair with Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links back during Spring Break 2017. 

It defined my life when I started back then, but I’ve completely abandoned the game after a nearly two-year streak.

I blame a combination of exhaustion with the gameplay and a distinct lack of time to pass around.

I’m not going to say I regret the decision necessarily. Plus it’s still on my phone, and can be reopened at any time.

But the timing felt poignant on the eve of this anniversary.

However, the more stand-out example of a recurring college experience happened when I stopped to get gas on the way home. Because I won’t be at that Shell station I use during my commutes for at least a week, I was thinking about how I might not have to use it much longer.

But don’t worry, I’m not actually getting sentimental about a gas station. Only a specific story related to that gas station.

About two-or-three years ago when I was News Editor at the Daily Titan, I found myself looking for things to drive our Copy Editors Kyle Bender and Ashley Haley crazy.

My favorite discovery was a completely misspelled word in the gas pump digital display. It was very obvious, and given the high traffic through that station I expected it to get fixed quickly.

But no.

Here we are in 2019 and that same spelling error is there:

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“… come indise and check out monthly specials.”

It’s astounding to me that this is still there. I’m 100 percent certain they’ve changed out all the pumps since I saw this the first time, yet nothing has changed.

This is why we need Copy Editors, folks. Otherwise these mistakes live on forever.

That’s all I had to say. Go pay your copy editors.

In the meantime, I’m going to go start whatever semblance of a break I have.

Live from Studio City

Live from Studio City

In case some of you weren’t around this morning to see what I’ve been up to today, here’s the real brief teaser I put out on social media:

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where Twitter is dead in the aftermath of terrible social media toxicity, I’ll lay it out in good, old-fashioned text:

The Cal State Fullerton branch of the Society of Professional Journalists got an opportunity to tour the CBS2/KCAL9 broadcast center in Studio City, California this afternoon.

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where the Internet is dead after a nuclear apocalypse…

Well you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. My entire joke would fall apart well before I started it.

So I’ll stop wasting your time.

My dad worked at the station for about three years as an Information Technology Manager, in-part helping to build out some of the infrastructure that we were able to see today.

In fact, I personally helped build bits and pieces when he took me to work with him. Crawling under tables to plug-in computers and stuff.

Because he still has some friends at CBS, he was able to get our club president Harrison in touch with Dan Haight, the Director of Broadcast Operations and Engineering.

As the Secretary for our chapter, I figured the least I could do was help us get a tour at a professional newsroom. Luckily it was a successful venture!

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The broadcast building from behind, on the sixth floor roof of the parking structure.

I got to Studio City pretty early and had the chance to look around at the entertainment side of the house first.

That included a whole host of fancy-looking lots as well as named buildings, street signs and more.

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But more importantly, it included a lot of brief looks at areas where different TV shows are currently being recorded.

The one that stood out most to me was Last Man Standing. Not because I watch the Tim Allen sitcom, but because of where the show was:

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The home of Seinfeld? Now that’s a sound stage that could tell some stories.

Even if most of those stories are technically supposed to be centered in New York.

~*~Hollywood magic~*~

Here are a number of other discoveries I made, all lazily compiled in a slide show because I’m pretty tired after a number of hours on the freeway.

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However, arguably the most important discovery I made was off the lot:

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Don’t know if this is a business officially affiliated with CBS, or if it’s just some business owner with a lot of ingenuity to capitalize on the major job provider in the area, but either way I’m a fan.

After my little self-driven tour, it was time to head back to the broadcast center for our official tour!

… Except traffic was apparently not great today, so I was the first one there and had to hang out for quite some time before the rest of the group arrived.

Gave me a lot of time to look around at the big stuff in the lobby.

It was actually a lot of fun watching folks wander in-and-out, usually stopping by the security desk to see what was on the news with the guard.

After Dan arrived to take us around on the tour, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Got caught up in just checking everything out.

So the best I’ve got for visuals in this stage are the couple of pictures we took as a group that got posted on the SPJ account:

Obviously, that’s where I got my featured image from. I love the image Harrison got of us all looking into a news camera.

We found out that the area where we took that picture is going to be reworked soon for a new project CBS is working on to get live news broadcasts to mobile phones easier. All with the hopes of attracting that young audience that doesn’t watch traditional TV anymore.

Then we got a look around the newsroom, everything from the assignment desk to the online story stations and editing bays.

Afterward we checked out a couple of the shows currently recording, or preparing to record, during our tour.

First was the weekly Veteran’s Voices show, where a few actors were sitting in as the anchors so they could make sure all the shots were right.

After that we saw the end of the News at Noon with Sandra Mitchell, sitting alongside the weather lady Alex Biston.

Fun fact, this weather update was actually what we watched her record. Live. It was pretty cool, and she took some time to chat with us afterward!

The most interesting thing about watching the news broadcast was the fact that those two were the only people on the entire set. Everything else was fully automated.

I can’t help but feel it would be disconcerting to record an entire broadcast like that with nobody else around on a big sound stage… But I suppose it’s the kind of thing that Internet personalities do all the time in the 21st Century.

It was kind of cool to see how much technology has advanced I suppose, even if it wasn’t a great sign for getting jobs in the industry.

Finally, we were in one of the big control rooms just in time for Donald Trump’s speech on the New Zealand attacks — which I’ll use the CNN story for just for the sake of variety.

It was pretty amazing watching almost every screen in the room change to show the President’s face, both for the CBS channels and their competition.

While we were checking out the fully automated sound deck beside that control room, another one of my Dad’s old friends showed up. Bob and Dan got to talking, which led them to telling our tour group about how much they enjoyed working with Dad and missed him.

Which was a very sweet thing to see.

But that was pretty much all there is to say about my CBS tour. It was really cool, especially on the verge of graduation when I need to start thinking about things like work more avidly.

… Plus, I got to write it off as networking with reporters for my internship.

So I really can’t complain about that.

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

You can spin this blog post today one of two ways.

Perhaps this is a public service for all of those affected by the over 10-hour Facebook outages that affected the social media platform and its company’s holdings (including Instagram and WhatsApp) for some reason other than a denial-of-service attack — an issue which they, in my opinion, hilariously had to go to another platform to report:

Those folks addicted to these apps like I sometimes become with Twitter are likely looking for something interesting to do to bide their time.

Interesting, time-wasting YouTube channels happen to be my area of expertise.

… Or, perhaps this post is a futile effort to write something on my blog daily, after a day of two-hour Comm Law exams and finishing my listen to Ender’s Game while at the gym where I could not come up with anything better than yesterday despite saying I would. But in place of that interesting subject matter, I’ve simply decided to guise my lazy alternative in the guise of the solution to a social media-driven turmoil that has long ended by the time I began writing; all due to the aforementioned requirements.

But I think we all know which is the true answer to the question.

That said, I’ve delayed the inevitable long enough.

While my parents travelled around California going to different doctor’s appointments on Monday, I was in charge of my sister back home. We more-or-less spent the afternoon sitting beside one another on the couch doing homework and watching YouTube videos.

Among the usual line-up of Game Grumps and Super Beard Bros. videos taking up time, we were recommended a strange looking think piece on the “Sonic the Hedgehog Bible.”

That’s the kind of offer we couldn’t refuse.

So we didn’t.

And thus we discovered the magic that is Unraveled: A show by the gaming news website Polygon, helmed by their video producer Brian David Gilbert.

As someone who appreciates few things more than highly-analytical, well-produced and funny content deeply examining video games, this YouTube series earns my highest recommendation.

The show, in essence, takes huge amounts of data and information from the video games themselves or from real-world (often governmental) organizations that can be used for video game applications and just distills them down into quippy 15-minute binges that use massive amounts of paper for on-the-wall diagrams with rarely an apology.

It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

While we started with their Sonic Bible episode, I was also a big fan of his dive into madness on the Legend of Zelda timeline, breakdown of hundreds of Mega Man Robot Masters and look at how Bowser’s army would be organized in relation to the U.S. Army.

An oddly prescient piece considering Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé announced his retirement just a few days after it dropped, leaving it in the hands of a man literally named Bowser.

I won’t say I’m much for conspiracy theories… But the truth is out there.

Anyway, yeah. That’s my recommendation for the night.

If a YouTube show can get my sister of all people excited to watch deep-diving video game content, you know it has to be good.

So give Unraveled a look, if you would.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

“Hey Siri…”

“Hey Siri…”

I’ll be honest, it has been a little hard to get motivated to do much of anything today. Last night there was a shooting at a bowling alley called Gable House Bowl in Torrance, which hit pretty much all the big news outlets.

Shootings like this are always a tragedy, but this one hit pretty close to home for me.

Gable House is and always has been a big name amongst basically everyone I’ve grown up with. Countless birthday parties and hangouts have been hosted there and at the laser tag arena just next door. Plus the local business makes itself known in other ways that have just become regular parts of life for me, such as through an advertisement that always plays before features at a nearby AMC movie theatre.

As far as I’m currently aware, I didn’t know any of the people involved in the shooting. But I did drive somewhat close to that area on my way home last night, so you know how the mind wanders with those kinds of situations.

It has been hard to distract myself considering all of my group chats with locals have brought the tragedy up at various times with similar pits of dread.

But distract we must. Because as much as I’ll give my condolences to anyone who was involved, I just can’t let it rule my mind all night.

I’ve partially done so by watching two new video series on YouTube that have frankly offered a huge amount of interesting, unorthodox video game-related content.

First is the “Region Locked” series by Did You Know Gaming. I found it for their episode on Mother 3 after binge watching a play through of that series not too long ago, but stayed to take in a ton of trivia all about bizarre or cool games that were never released officially in the United States.

Then I’ve been watching the “Boundary Break” series by Shesez, which is so fascinating that I find myself constantly staring slack-jawed at the screen. This series looks at games of all creeds and pedigrees with a ‘magic camera’ so you can see the inner-workings of how different titles are designed. For someone who just loves video games, it helps me appreciate the work that goes into making such iconic titles way more.

I’ve also — and don’t judge me for this — been trying my hand at the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online again.

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What can I say, I had a craving for a new card game with Duel Links falling a bit out of favor. The artwork on some of these cards are just… SO good.

Thinking about making a whole separate post about this stuff if I can get past it being so lame. Let me know if you’d be interested in that, I suppose.

But then the biggest distraction of the day would, of course, have to be the thing that I headlined the post with. Our new Apple Homepod.

Apparently this was my mom’s very belated birthday present from her parents, even though I’m personally not 100 percent sure why the one person in the house who is more hard of hearing would be so interested in a glorified speaker.


Dara’s Corner:

“It actually listens to me when I talk, which is a good thing considering I have a history of yelling profane things to Siri on my phone!”


She’s really happy with it though, so who am I to complain? Until it starts to refuse turning itself off like HAL 9000, anyway.

Setting the thing up has been a bit tricky because of how it interfaces with various iPhones in the house and other devices like our Apple TV. But that trickiness has provided at least two very funny moments.

The first most notable moment happened when my dad attempted to ask it to play Netflix, which resulted in the device playing the explicit rap song, “Netflix,” by 2 Chainz.

We got about as far as finding out that he smoked a blunt for breakfast before someone managed to turn it off in that flailing, unexpected manner.

Then later on we attempted to figure out how to make Siri text someone through the speaker alone. When we tried to get mom’s phone to text dad, there was (no joke) about a five-minute period where Siri listed off every single phone number and email that could possibly get him a message. Only to have the same list repeated about halfway through with another attempt later.

He has a few too many emails, apparently.

With that said, hopefully this post didn’t come across too scatterbrained for you all. I mostly just tried to do whatever I could to get past my funk, which wound up meaning ‘talk about a bunch of random things’ and recounting funny moments. Because we all need a little humor in the face of tragedy.

But now it’s starting to rain outside and I have to leave to go pick up Alyson from her Bob Cole thing.

Though you’ll likely hear more about it tomorrow when I may or may not write about her actual performance.

Repeat Offenders

I’m having a strange sense of déjà vu this semester.

A couple of my class have given me assignments this week that are pretty much identical to other assignments I’ve had in previous courses — one of which I’ve seen at least three times now, in fact.

That third-time returning assignment (the one that I find more interesting right now, considering at this rate I’ll need to develop a punch card) was handed down in my Visual Communications class this afternoon. Essentially I have to take a number of photos over the next two weeks, either on my phone or with a professional camera, that represent major concepts in visual composition.

So a photo that shows a prominent horizontal line, one that shows a good grasp of the rule of thirds, one that displays the difference between the foreground and background, etc.

As an isolated assignment it makes sense. What better way to get kids engaged and learn a variety of terms by making use of that little device in our pockets to actually engage with the work.

The problem comes when, as in my case, you see the same assignment repeatedly. In Comm 202, focused on broadcast journalism basics. In Multimedia Journalism. Now, again, in Visual Communications.

Is there just some unwritten rule that in the 21st century, every visual-focused class will get students to go out and take sample photos with their phones? Was there a college teaching conference that established this staple?

Is it only a California thing or does this happen all across the country?

I’m actually, genuinely curious to know.

My Mass Media Ethics class yesterday also assigned a small project I’ve seen before. For that, we need to spend about a week keeping a media log with all the news we consume so we can reflect on it.

I had to do the exact same thing for my Comm 233 class — the one that I started this blog for.

Back then I was pretty upset with the project. The professor was kind of an old fart and quite literally used the assignment as a way to rub it in our faces that we’re all too addicted to technology.

Like sure we definitely are, but that doesn’t mean you need to be condescending about it dude.

This time around the assignment is focused more on tracing back to the corporations that own each media outlet and deciding how that ownership might create bias.

A more interesting, reasonable through-line in my opinion.

Thinking about it, those two kinds of assignments seem very intrinsically linked to modern-day students. I suppose that’s the reason why they’re showing up repeatedly, for me at least. Whether or not you guess see these particular assignments, or just other projects that multiple teachers have assigned, I guess is up to you all to let me know.

No matter what, I’m just glad neither of these two projects are due next week. Because my two essays for my Psych classes still loom heavy on my mind…


As an aside, while this isn’t related to the overall post I’ve just written, it’s something that stood out to me so much today that I just had to share it.

Over the past few months I’ve been watching a YouTuber named Nando v. Movies rewrite the recent DCEU Justice League film beat-by-beat. It has been fascinating to watch, as one of the reasons I picked up on the guy in the first place was because of his script rewrites. They show a great grasp of the comic book source material and movie structure, so it’s always a joy.

The four-part Justice League series has been especially great, in my opinion. While I enjoyed the original movie, the novel version Nando creates is vastly superior and sets up a much more compelling path for the universe to take.

It’s just too bad he isn’t actually working at DC’s movie division.

The final part of the series just released today, and I would say it’s very worth taking an hour and a half to watch each part in a row. You can check them out here.

Dude deserves the shout out, go see his stuff.

Figuring out the Facebooks

Figuring out the Facebooks

It’s not very often that I can get meta about the inner workings of this blog I’ve got regarding subjects beyond the simple milestones like post numbers or followers. But today I wanted to do just that because of a somewhat more interesting development affecting the blog completely beyond my control.

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According to information put out by WordPress, the service, Facebook is restricting the ability of third-party tools to automatically publish material on people’s profile pages.

If I were to read between the obvious lines, this change is more than likely a push to fix some of the concerns regarding the social media site’s use by Russian hackers to messing with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Because whether or not you believe President Trump on the argument that Russia was not meddling at all, or they weren’t meddling on his behalf, or whatever the current story is, clearly some shady stuff was going down.

In fact, some shady stuff is still apparently going down. So it isn’t a concern we’re likely to see go away anytime soon.

Facebook has been trying to, at the very least, put its best face forward (pun only somewhat intended) about aiming to regain the trust of the service’s users. Anyone who spends nearly as much time on YouTube as I do, for example, will probably recognize this ad that suddenly started showing up before just about every video in existence a few weeks back:

The cynic in me rolls his eyes pretty hard seeing this ad, as it’s more than likely Facebook cares more about keeping itself alive as a juggernaut business than it does making sure every Joe Schmo out there can still talk with their friends and family like ‘the good old days.’

But there’s also something to be said about the fact that they’re trying to do something rather than just letting everything burn to the ground while pretending that nothing happened.

Even if that something just amounts to customer-facing BS.

I think that’s about as political as I’m willing to get on the subject right now, however. I haven’t done any of my own significant research or reporting and as a result can’t give you all a definitive ‘Facebook is doing it wrong/right’ verdict.

All I can really say is that based on stuff like the reporting out of Vox I linked to up above and the fact that Facebook is changing its third-party integration (the thing this post was supposed to be about, what a circle!), at least there seems to be an effort to improve. Something I’m hopeful isn’t just BS, as I previously mentioned.

Unfortunately that effort to improve does make my personal life a little more difficult.

See the non-political part of this post is here to address the fact that changing integration also changes the way I need to handle my social media with regards to WordPress stuff.

As must be obvious to most people out there, my social media accounts right now are primarily means of creating a wider viewership for my blog posts. Sure I still go through and post independent things on Facebook and Twitter on occasion, but for the most part I actually much prefer the freedom of being able to write as much as I desire here and spreading that to the world instead of dealing with some restriction like 280 characters.

Now that my WordPress posts will no longer automatically publish to Facebook, I’ve arrived at something of a crossroads.

Is it worth going about the extra step of posting my blog activity to Facebook directly?

Or should I just abandon that social media branch entirely?

The obvious choice for my lazy self is the latter. However, even if I don’t think too much of it in my head, there are some benefits to getting my words out on Facebook specifically.

Those benefits more or less boil down to the posts being seen by people who do, at least occasionally, pay attention that wouldn’t be able to continue doing so via Twitter. Family is the big chunk of that demographic, as I’ll see people like my grandparents liking posts out of the blue on occasion. But there’s also some high school friends I’ve got that occasionally like or comment on my posts. Which is pretty cool, to be completely honest. I like knowing that I’ve caught someone’s fancy with something I might not have expected to.

So with that said, I suppose I should thank you all for making it this far into what is ultimately a non-discussion. I pretty much knew from the get-go that my decision would ultimately be to figure out the best way to separately post these up on Facebook.

I just figured it would be a more interesting post if I went into some of the mindset I had leading up to the decision. After breaking away from writing to hit the gym for an hour, I figure I’ve hit a place in the writing and in my energy level to end it here.

Though that said, I suppose this is going to be my first post separately uploaded to Facebook. Because of that please stand by if it takes some time for me to figure out exactly how I want that to work.

Jason and Dara explore Netflix’s ‘explained.’

Jason and Dara explore Netflix’s ‘explained.’

Mom took me down a rabbit hole I wasn’t expecting to go down today.

A Netflix documentary rabbit hole.

But not any sort of traditional documentaries. No, we’ve been watching the series of mini-documentaries produced by Vox for Netflix called “explained.”

Technically it’s more like “_____, explained,” as each episode takes a different subject and dives into that subjects history, impact on human history and potential future developments in neatly packaged 15-minute segments.

For those who don’t know, Vox is a primarily social media-driven news organization that emerged fairly recently with the pretense that they would cut through the noise and succinctly “explain the news” rather than just telling it.

They do a pretty stellar job at that role and have become rather popular in just four years thanks to their well-developed infographics and other such visually-driven pursuits that thrive in the Internet age.

Thinking it over now, their Netflix series is essentially a series of documentaries that feel like some of the best YouTube explainers you’ve ever seen.

Actually, they go further than that. A lot of the editing and visual-driven style of each mini documentary feels very similar to other series birthed by people seeped in the Internet’s ways.

The one that comes to mind most immediately is Game Theory or Wisecrack, who take highly analytical approaches to popular culture, usually.

Yet that style is applied to a more traditional news format that you might expect out of televised enterprise stories or other similar organizations like Vice News.

Basically, to make that whole long story short. “Explained” feels like watching a 15-minute YouTube video developed by practitioners of classic newspaper storytelling styles.

Every episode of the series is engaging as a result of this finely-tuned combination.

However, each episode is also engaging in its own specific way. Because each chooses a different interesting topic and, well, explains them in their own way.

Some episodes, like the piece on eSports or the piece on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, use lots of animations to show concepts that are mostly ephemeral.

Others, like the piece on K-Pop or the piece on monogamy, bring in general people from all around the world for man-on-the-street portions that speak to a deeper human interest in each subject.

Then there are episodes about the racial wealth gap or the failure of diets that seem to rely heavily on historical documents, novels and other media to demonstrate what has happened over time.

Yet in spite of all these different styles of explaining information used, each piece keeps the same core. A similar fast-cut editing style interspersed with expert interviews and well-crafted infographics. They’re all recognizably ‘Vox,’ but carry different stand-out portions based on the topic.

My favorite bit is probably the child-led recreation of how the stock market works using a lemonade stand analogy.

As you can probably imagine just from how many different directions I’ve pulled that last segment of this post in, there’s a huge variety of stories that are being told in the documentary series.

Each, on top of being visually appealing, is also very well-researched and informative. I could recount at least one thing I learned from each story.

I suppose if I’m taking this in the direction of a ‘review’ of the series, it should be obvious that I’d highly recommend everyone with Netflix check this one out.

It’s a great example of a series that’s informative and engaging, something that takes the lessons of the Internet and applies it to teaching in a way more and more groups should take into account.

There’s also apparently more coming out every Wednesday, so it’s something we’ll keep coming back to I’m sure.


Dara’s Corner:

Favorite Episodes: “!” or “K-Pop” or “Designer DNA”

  • “!” — My mom is deeply rooted in the professions of the English language like I am, and this episode was the one that she was first notified of that led to our shared interest in the show in the first place.
  • “K-Pop” — Like me, she enjoyed this episode because of the way it took a topic we were vaguely familiar with and explained its backstory in depth that we never would have expected to exist there.
  • “Designer DNA” — Mostly because the topic delved into areas of research she has already looked into while doing copy editing and fact checking for scientific magazines like “Genome,” meaning she was knowledgable ahead of the curve coming in.

Overall Impression: “The fact that it has little 15-minute interstitials where you learn something that you didn’t know necessarily, you walk away with something interesting to talk to someone else about. I highly recommend this show to everybody.”

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

I had a totally different post planned for tonight.

But you know what?

The Pokémon hype train is too. God. Damn. Real.

That’s right folks, we’ve got a brand new trailer for a brand new Pokémon game, and you know damn well it’s time for me to go back to my Sun & Moon lead-up days of deeply analyzing anything and everything I can get my hands on.

This is about to be a long piece picking apart each and every piece of the trailer that I can.

Hope you’re ready. Because I am.


Let’s Go, Pokémon!

So obviously the first thing to address when it comes to discussing the brand new upcoming games of Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee is the tie-in to the mobile app Pokémon GO.

I played Pokémon GO for a good long time, it’s actually a pretty key element to my summer the year it came out when I would use El Camino College as my walking ground for catching Pokémon.

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The game had plenty of gems like this!

However… The app didn’t have a whole lot of staying power.

It got stale rather fast for me, and there were things about the game that needed to be implemented that weren’t until it was too late.

I still haven’t gone back, even though they’ve officially started to release Pokémon from the third generation (my personal nostalgic favorite).

Where the trailer for Let’s Go begins, it seems as though they’re setting up this title to be almost like a port of Pokémon GO for the Nintendo Switch. Which, in all honesty, would make zero sense considering what the appeal is for GO.

But then as token young child sits down on the couch and Pikachu jumps into the television, all becomes clear:

Kanto.

Remake.

Even though the warning on the bottom left suggests that ‘game footage is not final,’ the intent is clear. That boy you’re watching on-screen is Red, the original protagonist. With a Pikachu on his shoulder. Standing in Professor Oak’s Pokémon Lab in Pallet Town.

As he runs off onto Route 1 and through what appears to be Viridian City in a few small snippets before the trailer splits to show Leaf (Red’s female counterpart from the Gen 3 remakes of Firered and Leafgreen) and an Eevee, already the comparisons are clear for me.

Graphically, Let’s Go looks to have the same, if not better, quality models and environments than Sun and Moon — which to be fair does make sense considering the jump from the 3DS to the Switch.

Yet in terms of style, the world appears to be built more in-line with the philosophy of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS). Ostensibly this makes sense considering Let’s Go is being billed as a remake of the original Pokémon Yellow.

Keep the core of the world alive but update what we can see and juice everything up.

And sure perhaps I’m putting too much stock into the initial glances we get based on this trailer alone, but the way everything has been updated does look gorgeous. Environments on par with Sun and Moon being utilized for a faithful world recreation ala ORAS is by no means a bad combination.

Oh, and there are fully animated cutscenes too, just like the few that appeared in Sun and Moon. I enjoyed those as well, so I hope they’re utilized properly.

Seriously though you look at Vermillion City in the brief shot they provide and tell me it doesn’t look just amazing.


Blending Gameplay

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

One of the reasons Pokémon GO got stale for me so quickly was because there really wasn’t a heck of a lot to keep me invested in catching Pokémon.

Yes I adore Pokémon as a series because the creatures are adorable and I wish I could have them in real life.

But I also adore Pokémon as a series because I’m one of those weirdos that actually enjoys the story and the characters.

Yeah that’s right, I play Pokémon for the story. Come at me.

Being an aspiring writer, the monster catching series was one of the earliest things that drew me to both the mediums of video games and writing. The plots of each of the seven generations of main series games are burned into my skull, and I can seriously throw down long diatribes explaining why I adore X character based on this line of dialogue they gave.

It’s that much of an obsession for me.

In that way Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee becomes a beautiful middle ground.

Granted, the Gen one titles of Red and Blue (plus Yellow technically, all things considered) are arguably my least favorite. I enjoy the spit out of Firered, but find myself less engaged in the world those games create than any of the others.

Despite that caveat, I do still enjoy the games and like the Kanto region for as classic and iconic as it is, so getting to revisit them is great. Especially considering those two remakes came out in 2004 and leave Kanto the only stand-alone generation not featured on the DS-forward.

The brilliance behind the marketing for Let’s Go comes off that point. This is the first time we’re getting a Pokémon game centered around the Kanto region, literally a remake of the first adventure as the trailer goes on to stipulate, since Pokémon GO was a mass phenomena and brought tons of people who played the original titles back into the fold.

Timing is everything, and I’ll be damned if that’s a coincidence.

But no, we know it can’t be a coincidence because Let’s Go is literally built with the same functionality as Pokémon GO.

The first of multiple different ways to interact with the game is through single joycon play. Literally you sit back with a joycon and play the game like it’s Pokémon.

But when you need to catch a random encounter, you chuck a Pokémon with the same minigame/spinoff style Pokémon GO offers. It’s just this time you literally throw like pitching a baseball rather than flicking your finger on the screen.

If that’s not a perfect way to not only utilize the functionality of the Nintendo Switch, but also bring the ‘catch Pokémon for real’ mentality of GO into contact with the story and immersive world of a mainstream Pokémon game, I don’t know what is.

It looks like there’s also probably a way to just hit A to throw as well, as I can already hear the complaints that this repetitive throwing will be too much.

Come on people, it’s Pokémon. Have some fun.


Multiplayer? In my Pokémon?

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

It’s more likely than you’d think.

Something iconic about the Pokémon series as a whole is its version splitting antics.

Whether you see multiple versions as a smart way to encourage kids to interact and spread a fervor for the game like wildfire, or whether you see it as a cheap cash grab that persists based on ‘tradition’ in a world where it has no place being there, you have to admit:

Playing Pokémon with a community of people is probably the core reason why it’s as popular as it is today.

The idea of the split versions has always had a particularly special place in my heart considering the fact that I have a younger sister. Going all the way back, I’d always buy both versions of a new generation so that I can play one while Aly plays the other.

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Just a piece of my Pokémon collection.

… Granted she tends to give up, which makes both versions my playing grounds to try out different things. But that’s a different story.

Pokémon Let’s Go is going to take that to a whole new level by allowing us to play the same Pokémon game at the same time using both joycons.

Honestly? That would be a selling point alone even if nothing else about this were true.

That multiplayer is somewhat limited from the looks of things, essentially allowing both players to run around freely on the same screen but not putting them on separate journeys.

Instead, the catching game becomes more of a co-operative experience where things like having the right timing together improves your chances of catching Pokémon.

The way multiplayer interacts with battle is a little funnier, as it seems like player two gains access to another member of your party so you both can fight at the same time.

While I can only imagine creating infinite two-on-one situations will make the journey relentlessly easy, I can’t help but relish the idea of reversing the terrible circumstances of Sun and Moon where enemy Pokémon called for help all the damn time.

A few other things I’d like to note in this section:

  • From the brief battle sequences we see, as well as whatever capturing is shown off, it appears like most every environment in the game will have an equally unique battle locale. Which is amazing and highly encouraged, hopefully beyond even what Sun and Moon offered.
  • Pokémon appear to roam wild as overworld sprites in Let’s Go. I can only hope this will be less of a gimmick-y ‘hey look who shows up here’ and more of a way to flesh out the living world, as obviously a game that’s going to be a Kanto remake with a complete battle system will also have random encounters to facilitate grinding for the Elite Four.
  • While I love the idea of multiplayer, it does currently leave me second guessing the possibility of this being a Pokémon game with full online functionality too. It seems like the focus is going to be solely on Kanto Pokémon, so will there be wi-fi battling and trading? It doesn’t seem like it, which may cut down the game’s longevity, but we’ll see when more information comes out.

New Toys for Kanto

Along with just using a single joycon, Nintendo is also going to be releasing a little Pokéball toy that can be used in place of the traditional controller as something to throw at wild encounters.

That seems to be the pattern for Pokémon games lately, releasing a gimmicky object alongside their titles. Remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon?
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I remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon.

This one seems cute but not necessarily something I’ll be chomping at the bit to go out and buy. Beyond that capture integration, the chief thing it seems a trainer can do with the Pokéball is bring Pikachu (or Eevee) along with you to make noises.

Sort of like the Pokéwalker that came with Heartgold and Soulsilver. Except also a controller.

But hey it does make cute noises. So… You can get beat up in school easier?

Dunno, my sister was awfully excited for this when I showed her the trailer, but I’m fairly ambivalent.

Also on display in this section of the trailer is Let’s Go’s functionality with Pokémon GO itself.

According to this tweet, the functionality purely extends to Kanto Pokémon — which is what leads to my trepidation from before about the existence of wi-fi connectivity acting as an extender for Let’s Go.

It also seems to me that the Pokémon you bring in from the real world will only be accessible through a special location, GO PARK.

I suppose it could be wonky to have to transfer things like stats between such totally different games, so I understand… But that is a shame.

Makes me feel slightly less apt to pick up Pokémon GO again to transfer my cool Pidgeot over. But we’ll see.


More, More, More!

There are a number of other things throughout the trailer that warrant discussion as well, but I’ll try to sum them up more quickly since this is already getting long in the tooth.

  • Red and Leaf ride a hell of a lot of Pokémon in the trailer. An Onyx, a Lapras and a Charizard at least. I can’t quite tell based on this trailer alone whether or not all Pokémon will have rideable functionality for something or another, or whether this replaces HMs similarly to Sun and Moon, but we’ll see. I hope it’s the latter.
  • Concurrent with the previous point, it seems as though every single Pokémon does at least have an overworld model programmed in-game. There are scenes where it appears as though they can follow you as well, such as the red-and-blue striped underground tunnel where two players are followed by Nidoking and Nidoqueen. Will full Pokémon following return from Heartgold and Soulsilver, even if just for Kanto Pokémon?
  • Eevee and Pikachu are customizable! The player character probably isn’t considering they’re supposed to stand in for Red and Leaf, and I don’t have a problem with that, but the fact that the game’s mascots can have outfits is too cute for words. I just hope they stay dressed up during battle!
  • Someone somewhere used Seismic Toss on a Magikarp for the trailer and that person deserves a raise.
  • Did I mention there are full cutscenes in the game? Well, one of those is the Mewtwo encounter. Player model appears to have more facial range than the Sun and Moon protagonist, so that’s again a plus for Let’s Go.

Concluding Thoughts

Okay, so there are one or two other things to touch on oh-so-briefly before wrapping this sucker.

First: Eevee’s voice.

Look. I get it Game Freak. Pikachu got special treatment starting in Gen six, where it started to say its name because mascot. It was cute and I get it.

Eevee didn’t need the same treatment, even though you’re trying to fill that same cute mascot niche. I’m not a huge fan of Eevee saying its name like in the trailer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m playing Let’s Go, Eevee all the way because Eevee is far superior to Pikachu in my opinion, but still.

Also at the end of the trailer was a tease to a brand new Pokémon being shown off somehow in-game. On Twitter, the Pokémon folks do confirm that this will be a 100 percent totally brand new Generation Eight Pokémon.

Because oh yeah by the way, new main series Pokémon title in 2019.

That’s another thing to get hyped about, but hype will wait for another day in that particular train’s engine.

For now we still need to get through November 16, 2018 when Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee will be released upon the world.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m super duper excited for it. I was pretty burned out on Pokémon after the back-to-back release of Sun/Moon and their Ultra sequels, but this is a whole new adventure with tons of unique bells and whistles to get ready for.

I do hope after the 2019 games are released that Game Freak takes a bit of a break, both because it would be well-deserved and because fatigue may set on if they start to push out a big game every single year for too long.

Though Marvel’s been going strong for 10 years with the same philosophy and look where that has them. So who knows!

All I know is that despite trepidation for a few key points I’ve listed throughout this analysis, I’m excited for the Let’s Go Pokémon games all the same. It has probably pushed off Dark Souls as a major game to purchase for the console since I now need to save my money.

Sorry Dark Souls, we’ll have our day.

I’m also ready for more and more news to come out about the game in the coming months. How will the new character designs look? What sort of new things can we expect to be added into the game’s lore? Will Jesse and James appear as a part of Team Rocket like in the original Yellow?

Expect to see me blathering about it from now until November.

So, until the next news comes, tell me internet: What is YOUR opinion regarding these new Pokémon games? I’ll undoubtedly be seeking reactions on my own, but I’d like to know what the people who follow me think too.

May 9, 2018 Article Published

Welcome to the part of the semester where my stories are written on borrowed time.

Not because I’m dying, of course! Though with finals around the corner it certainly feels that way…

No, I would consider this piece written on borrowed time because, frankly, I was planning on being done writing for the paper this semester. More time to focus on the aforementioned finals along with projects and all that good stuff.

But when the call came over Slack to help cover an ASI meeting during a time I had available, I couldn’t resist the allure of extra points.

Okay that’s not true, I have more than enough points for the semester. It was mostly a feeling of obligation not to let the news desk fall apart without a story.

Despite the fact that I had to come in early for the two-and-a-half hour meeting, followed by another two straight hours of hardcore writing focus that really burned me out, I’d say it was pretty worth the ride.

This meeting was the last one for the 2017-18 academic year, so it was a huge housecleaning bonanza. Seriously, they passed 20 items ranging from resolutions supporting or denouncing things to bylaw changes.

Because of the huge range of topics covered at the meeting, there were a bunch of people there that made it more interesting than such a long event otherwise would have been.

I got to hand out a bunch of business cards for future sourcing and say goodbye to some members of the Board that I’ve talked before to who are graduating.

Plus, it does help that some important things went on at the meeting. In the story, I mainly focused on the fact that $12,000 were allocated to the Tuffy’s Basic Needs Center, a new firm was confirmed that will perform audits on ASI for the next three years, it was made easier to recall student government leaders and some policy statements were reformatted.

However way more happened at the meeting that I just didn’t have the space to focus on outside of a listicle at the end. For example, they supported my somewhat-consistent beat material Project Rebound through a resolution. That was pretty cool to see!

On top of that, they passed a resolution supporting victims of gun violence, approved the use of a consent calendar for future meetings and just so much more.

I also had a chunk of my article originally allocated to the graduating members passing the torch along to the upcoming leaders… But again, spacing required that be taken out.

It’s too bad, because I had a nice exchange where the current Board chair Nicholas Jakel reflected on lessons he’d learned, followed by the upcoming ASI President talking about lessons he’s taking from people who are leaving… But hey, that’s the business.

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