GotM: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Picking this months game was a simple decision.

In fact, part of my the reasons my writing priorities have been in the bucket has to do with great games like this one.  I know I shouldn’t have let it take up so much of my time, but Legend of Zelda has always been an all time favorite game series and the latest installment just proved to be even better than its predecessors.

To start with, I will make a note that I played this on my Wii U and not Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo Switch.  However, from what I have seen gameplay and graphic experiences are virtually identical and thus should not interfere with my recommendation regardless of which console you are currently using.

From the moment I started up this game, I knew that it would be unlike any other game I had played.  Sure, I had watched some E3 gameplay of the plateau area so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect, but those expectations were quickly blown out of the water.

From the moment the story starts you are thrown into a vast, open ended world that seems to have no boundaries.  As you walk out onto Hyrule field for the first time, the only indicator of where you should start is a small cutscene indicating an old man waiting for you at the bottom of a hill.  From there you are free to pursue whatever your heart desires.

I was constantly surprised by the amount of things you could do.  There are a plethora of side quests to go along with the main story questline you follow, and each of those side quests brings more and more life to the world you are exploring.  Not to mention the wildlife that roams the lands and the various materials (food or otherwise) you can collect which can be used to make meals, potions, etc to give you that little extra boost to the game.

Because the game is still so fresh (It’s only been out about 6 weeks), I am doing my best to keep spoilers out of my review, but be warned I am about to speak about my experiences a little while being as vague as possible on the exact details.

Playing this game was like a breath of fresh air when compared to the previous installments of the Zelda series, and it even felt different from many of the other games I have played in the past as well.  It just felt good to run around as link in a seamless world.  The amount of times I came across an unexpected surprise because of some minor curious thought like “I wonder what’s over here” is innumerable, and the design of the world is so breathtakingly beautiful that there were several times that I simply stopped to enjoy the view.

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The dungeons were unique and creative, and I enjoyed the nature of the bosses that lie within.  However, there was a part of me that missed the more traditional dungeon set up from previous games.  Still, it did not dampen my spirits when there was just so much to take in at all times.  A more traditional dungeon may not have done well in a game like Breath of the Wild.

Finally, a brief word on Ganon.  Without going into detail, I will say that Calamity Ganon was the most intimidating boss fight (across all my recent games) I have come across in a long time.  When I got to him and the introductory cutscene played I remember feeling my adrenaline spike and wondering if I was truly ready for this encounter (and that was after I found the master sword and a good set of armor)!

If Breath of the Wild is any indication on how the teams working on Zelda plan to step forward, then I look forward to see what they will do next.

Seriously, go get this game.

 

Have you had a chance to play it yet?  What are your thoughts?  Let me know!

 

Until then, see you next week.

 

Spoiler Type Picture below.

 

 

 

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Too long for a Hiatus

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Hello my dear readers and friends.

I know, I know.  It’s been 3 months since I last posted anything.  I’m sure it felt like I fell off the face of the earth or just gave up on writing on here all together.

I hope you will be happy to know that I have not given up on this blog and I still wish and hope to fill your lives with helpful knowledge and fun experiences.

While I could go into the details of how life has been chaotic and has made it difficult to stay up to date on my blog writing, the truth is that it just has not been a priority.  I’ve let other things get in my way and it’s cost me three months worth of content writing.

It can be difficult to maintain consistency when life chooses to be inconsistent.  My wife recently decided to go back to college to finish up her studies and get her degree in music composition.

I could not be more proud of her and the progress she has made.

Yet it often leaves little time for me to focus on things like writing when we are both pulling double duty between raising our beautiful two year-old and juggling classes and work.  On top of which, we are both regular church goers and regularly volunteer for services that are offered.  So we have been spending the past few months working hard on our Easter presentation.

Yet still, it is no excuse to have no content.  So I will endeavor to keep that from happening again.  I do not want to drag you along while you wait patiently for a blog post that may never come.

This week I don’t really have anything to contribute except a small little blurb to let you know that I am alive and have not forgotten about you.  Things should start getting a little easier to maintain after this week and I look forward to exploring the different topics we do together with you.

Thanks for all your support.

Grace and Peace.

 

p.s. If you are in the Birmingham, AL area this weekend, feel free to come join us for an Easter celebration at Clearview Baptist Church.  Service starts at 10 and everyone is welcome.

5271 Old Springville Rd.
Pinson, AL 35126

(I’ll be the one playing the guitar)

Are we finding paths, or fighting dragons?

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Over the past several months I have shared quite a bit about Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and the realms in which they inhabit.  But of the two styles of d20 systems, which is the best?  Should one be preferred over the other?  I need help!

Or so, you might be thinking.

The truth is, Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons are not so far apart from each other.

In fact, I would say that the system you choose to dive into has more to do with preference than anything else.

 

Dungeons and Dragons
Specifically, I am speaking of the more recent 5th Edition of DnD when I share my experiences and my thoughts.  If you play an older version of DnD (such as 3.5 or older) than you might find that Pathfinder is even more similar than ever.

5th Edition (or 5E) is a simpler system to learn and understand.  It allows for a very dynamic story telling without getting bogged down by the number crunching that the older rulesets had.

Because of this simplistic approach, 5E is a great system for inexperienced and new players.  Especially if these players are a little younger and might have difficulty keeping up with all the addition and subtraction of other systems.

This is the main system I use whenever I am running as GM.

The downside to this, however, is that there is not as much customization for character skills and abilities which might turn some people away.

Additionally, because of how new this system in particular is, the amount of material readily available is not quite as vast as Pathfinder.

 

Pathfinder
Pathfinder is, on the other hand, much more flexible in the character creation process.  You can pick which skills to focus in a more refined way, which in turn can make your characters specialists in their own right.

Additionally, Pathfinder has a huge array of material that 5E is sorely lacking a the moment.  This allows for an even broader array of options for customization, specialization, and all around fun when facing the monsters that lie within.

What’s more, many of Paizo’s (the owners of the Pathfinder system) resources concerning the game are largely free or very easy to access.

Which is why software such as Combat Manager and Hero Lab work much better with Pathfinder than they do with 5E.

If I am a player, this is the system I prefer to play in.

 

All in all, it really just depends on what works best for you and the people you are playing with.  Both operate similarly in a lot of ways, despite their differences, and I imagine if you are comfortable in one you can learn the other fairly quickly.

What are your experiences with DnD and Pathfinder?  What do you prefer?

Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me a message via the contact form on the Talk to Me? page.

Until next week!

What’s Your Point of View?

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I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast this week and it inspired me to publish this thought-piece for your viewing pleasure this weekend.

If you have not had a chance to listen to Writing Excuses or don’t know anything about them, but love to write, then I recommend checking them out on iTunes or check them out on their website here: WritingExcuses.com.

This week’s episode they discussed a few of the variations of the first person perspective and how it can be used in story telling.  As usual, they were very insightful and have definitely stretched my understanding of the writing process.

As a sort of response to their podcast I wanted to hit on the three main Points of View that many stories are written from.  Keep in mind that these points of view are very broad and can be broken down even further if desired.  I’m sure you all know where I am going with this, but a refresher never hurts right?

 

First Person
This type of perspective is not the most common, but it is used quite a bit in many great tales (Think Hunger Games, The Martian, and the Farseer Trilogy for instance).  These narratives are incredibly limited in the fact that as the reader we will only ever know the thoughts and emotions of the story teller.

Whether the POV is of the protagonist, the antagonist, or even simply a re-teller of the tale, there is a limited amount of information that can be given without edging into the other perspectives.

This can lead to some very fun, but challenging stories to write; but if done well, they often stand out among the crowd.

 

Second Person
You may not even be able to pinpoint a story that uses this perspective.  It is rarely, if ever, used in any mainstream story.  In fact, most of you might be thinking of the “create your own story” novels where you were given an option to turn to a certain page based of the decisions you are presented and made.

However, a good second person fiction can and has been done.  I found a good list of 5 novels that are written in second person which can be found here: The Power of You.

Still, you will likely only see this in the non-fiction and self-help corners of the book market.

 

Third Person
By far the most common type of perspective (and arguably the easiest to write in), third person is where we often find our narratives in a great many stories.  All of the stories we tend to think of in classics (like Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Tale of Two Cities, etc) have nestled themselves comfortably within the third person narrative.

Just because it is common does not mean it is not valuable.  The amount of opportunity in telling a story when the narrative is broad can make for a lot of intriguing developments just as easily as the limited first and second persons.

 

Ultimately, you will have to decide which perspective and it’s subsidiaries work best for the story you wish to tell (be it fiction or not) and how use it to the fullest.

 

That’s all I have for now.  I’m curious to see which perspective you prefer to read or write in.  Let me know in the comments below!

Happy New Year Gift

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As I write this I am sitting in a dark room with my lovely wife and adorable, very two year old, daughter and I can’t help but smile  We have all been through quite a bit this year but we made it and soon we will be visiting family we haven’t seen in much too long.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that has happened and encourage you to do the same with me.

As we get ready to close out the year, what are some things that have had significant impact in your life or things you have accomplished?   It can be good or bad.

– I finished my second draft of the novel I’ve been working on

– I started a new novel

– The manyfold world events have broken my heart: police brutality, our presidential election process, all the shootings, and even the celebrities we have lost this year.

 

All in all while it has been a productive and mostly successful year, it has also been a very difficult and grief stricken one for many around the world.  Despite all this sadness and defeat I have had the joy of witnessing so much victory as well.

Victory that all of you have displayed in your passions.

In your creative spirit.

And in your humanity.

As we look to the New Year what do you hope to accomplish?

– I hope to continue to provide worthwhile content for you

– I hope to finish both of my novels

– I hope to get to know you, my reader, better as well

 

I know this isn’t my standard posting fare and next Friday we will be right back into the thick of it; but I just couldn’t help to take a day and reflect and share.

 

Now I know the title says New Years Gift and there is one.  I’ve gone ahead and released Chapters 10 and 11 for Dragon Rising on Wattpad.  Be sure to give it a read and follow me over there so you can get updates on when I publish parts.

Have a wonderful New Year everyone and we will see you next week!

Chapter 9 – Indecision

As Usual, you can find the whole chapter on Wattpad

Chrono woke the group up early the following morning. Everyone consumed a small, quick meal of cheese and breads, and then refilled their waterskins at a nearby pond. Sharon had to assure both Chrono and Jalia several times that she was feeling better since she had applied the meadowsweet to her wounds before they were satisfied. Roshaun was not much better than the others. He continuously looked at her with that same apologetic expression he carried whenever something bad happened. Once everyone had saddled and mounted their horses, the party continued on their journey.

The scenery was quickly shifting now as the forest covered hills faded into the steeper mountains. While the mountainside did have its share of trees, they were considerably sparser than what they had previously encountered. Chrono led a steady pace throughout the morning until they reached the base of a particularly steep hill. There the party allowed their horses to rest and Sharon applied another round of the meadowsweet paste she had made the night before. Chrono smiled, comforted by the fact that his wife wasn’t taking any chances.

Sharon knew the truth of the matter though. While the meadowsweet could fight off the fever the poisoned caused, it did very little to extract it from her body. She knew it would only be a matter of time before it would incapacitate or kill her. She kept this knowledge to herself though. The last thing she wanted was for three other people to start worrying about her in a situation that was beyond everyone’s control. There was enough going on as it was, and she was not about to put more stress on her friend’s by telling them the unfortunate truth. The best she could do for them at the moment was to keep this problem out the way as much as possible until she could get in touch with a physician in Lavir.

Sharon stifled a grimace as she remounted the horse after their rest. The wound still stung when she moved too quickly, and the dull ache was a constant companion any time else. She hoped that keeping her fever down would help slow the poisonous effects, but as the day progressed she quickly realized that the meadowsweet would not be enough.

GotM: Knights of the Old Republic

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I know I’m doing two BioWare games in a row, but in light of Star Wars: Rogue One coming to theaters today I thought it would be fitting to talk about one of my all time favorite games outside of the Legend of Zelda series.

Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most enjoyable immersions into the Star Wars universe I have ever played.  The story takes place thousands of years before even Episode I (if you acknowledge its existence, Episode II if you don’t), and allows you to be what just about everyone wants to be, a Jedi.

There actually are two installments of the Knights of the Old Republic game series, though they could easily be played separately without losing information from one to the other, and there is the MMO called The Old Republic which is based around the same time.  But, I just want to talk about the first one.

KotOR has a very compelling story, and you come across a plethora of people who can and do become your companions.  Depending on how you lean in the force (Light, Dark, or Neutral) you can influence your companions positively or negatively and leads to unique story options with each journey through the story.

One of my favorite aspects about the game is the ability to adjust your characters skills and abilities as you see fit.  Do you want to be incredibly charismatic and talk your way out of situations?  You can!  Do you want to cut your way through everything and ask questions later?  You can!  You can focus on your swordplay, destroy your enemies with blasters, or let the force be your ally and blow opposition away with your wobbily space magic!

The places you get to go are vibrant and have a wide variety quests that you can go on to explore each planet to its fullest.  You even get to explore the deep jungle floor of Kashyyk which has one of the best companion characters in my opinion, Jolee Bindo.  I would say more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

The game was originally released on Xbox (Yes, the first one) but it is also available on Steam now for about $10.

 

Have you had a chance to play this game?  Did you like it or nor?  What is your favorite Star Wars game?

 

Let me know in the comments below and see you next week!