The thought never even crossed my mind to create a set of community guidelines. I am acutely aware of the gaming community’s capacity to bully people of colour, trans, gay, and pretty much anybody except for white males. But the gaming and nerdy community are very distasteful when there are differing opinions involved. Also, I may want to get friends to write and create for this site, and they are definitely not all straight white males. It is understandable why community guidelines are necessary, so in my final cut, I will include two bullet points that say “respect opinions,” and “do not make any inflammatory comments about race, politics, or any other controversial issues unless the article at hand is about a serious matter.” I wish I were able to moderate YouTube comments effectively, but those will perpetually be vitriolic. And trust me, I won’t talk about Gamergate. I was around in 2014 when it was going on, and it was the oddest, freakiest movement that just perfectly fit a year for video games that was underwhelming, bizarre, and uneventful. I will try my hardest to stay away from current events and issues, and I hope my community will follow suit.

Trolls, too, are no stranger to video game culture, as I know many people in my personal life who can be classified as a troll. However, they do not push it to the extent shown in Joel Stein’s article. Their trolling would just be light teasing within a video game, nothing as serious as doxxing and death threats. That is why I am so hesitant about showing my face to others. I have seen the power of hate in Gamergate, and what people do to defile faces like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn. I don’t want a part of any of that. Yet, if this website does become a brand, then my face will be attached to it. I will likely become a “cuck” simply for discouraging hate speech. But, if I become just another piece for 4chan and “professional atheists” to talk about, then I will look at it as an opportunity for more attention and revenue.

What I was not able to grasp until Jon Ronson’s speech on internet trolling is the psychology behind it all. I knew people did it, but what was the reason behind all of it? Well, now I know people like the thrill of it. Trolling can take the form of bullying as well. Like what happened with Justine, herd mentality overtook reason and people turned on her with false information and misinterpretations of a joke. Some people see trolling as a form of dominance. “Look at this person grovel before me!” It’s a gross instinct, but it is a side of humanity. What I also found interesting is most of these trolls are just regular people. I know this is not a good idea, but I do read Facebook comments. They are full of regular average joe’s spewing ignorant hate speech. The scary part is I don’t know if it is misinformation that forms their opinions, or it is their genuine belief. I think that people on Facebook are better behaved because there is a personal picture of themselves attached to everything they write. If one says something troll-ish on Reddit or 4chan, then they are most likely in the clear because they have little personal information tied to them. I feel that my site may become toxic because comments are usually not linked to a personal identity. Anybody can say whatever they want on my site. Thankfully, I have to approve of the comment before it is posted online forever.

I didn’t like the Ghostbusters 2016 trailer, and I knew there would be backlash against it, but perhaps I had too much faith in people to not dox and leak nude pictures of Leslie Jones. It’s sad that overreactions like this consistently happen. What struck me the most about this article is the quote at the end about the desire to shift public opinions on race and hate speech by altering daily interactions. That quote caused me to contemplate even including a community guidelines page, as changing that instinct to attack and hate is ingrained in internet culture. Altering the offensive nature of internet comments will likely take years of cultural shifting to change. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to mitigate my comments. Having people read a set of rules and monitored comments works fairly well for Book Riot, so why would it not work for me? If a reader knows that there are some imposed rules, hate could be reduced. A potential reduction is better than doing simply nothing at all and allowing hate to spread. Even Reddit, which prides itself on free speech has moderators to remove comments that don’t meet their guidelines.

My community guidelines format is totally stolen from Book Riot, but I want it to be succinct and easy for anybody to read, so here they are:


COMMUNITY GUIDELINES:

This site doesn’t have many rules to abide by, so if you follow these on your comments, then you will be perfectly fine!

  • Don’t reference serious topics unrelated to nerdy culture unless the subject matter of the post pertains to it. For example, do not discuss issues such as Black Lives Matter, or Racism, or any other geopolitical issue unless the article is about a piece of media that offers an interpretation, perspective, or a reference to it.
  • Don’t bring racist or homophobic speech to the comment section. This site is meant as a place to escape reality, not be reminded of it.
  • Linking to other content is fine, only if that content is related to the article at hand.
  • Don’t be cruel to others, and have empathy.

 

When I first shared an article to my Facebook account and got support from my family and friends, I was ecstatic. I thought to myself that this would be the beginning of my glorious internet success. Well, I figured it was until I posted another article and it got little support. And then another that got no support. Uh-oh. That made me believe that my content is annoying people, and made me not share my articles with anybody. I continued with this mindset until reading two articles about Youtubers crossing media using book publishing. Natalie Robehmed simply reported that the Publishing industry is seeing an influx of memoirs from Youtubers who live relatively quiet lives, while Kathryn Lindsay is vehement about Youtubers harming the Publishing industry. Although I believe my transmedia sharing is more of a slight inconvenience rather than a bastardization of “THE HOLY AND GREAT FACEBOOK,” I can understand how too much advertisement of oneself across mediums can be cumbersome. I sometimes feel anxious about sharing my content because I feel ashamed about self-promotion. I have tried to post my videos on Reddit before and a lot of the time I get banned from specific subreddits. I know that getting noticed on the Internet is almost impossible without a shoutout, yet I still feel like I’m “selling out” when I post my content on other websites. I don’t desire to become the used car salesman of my internet content, but sometimes I feel that I have to become that if I want my content to have an audience. Is it enough to simply have passion for my work and an audience will form by itself? The short answer to that is no. I was living in that fantasy that I would somehow break out with an article and accrue a massive following. I feel that I have struck a reasonable balance between having my content on YouTube cross with my content on this site. As Professor Maxwell stated: some people desire to peruse a transcript as opposed to watching a video. My articles are effectively the scripts for my videos, so this is a great form of transmedia that I am content with.

I agree that Pokemon works well as a transmedia artform that is not restrictive or cumbersome to its customers. I am not at all implying that Pokemon is not Nintendo’s premiere cash cow. However, it is a very friendly cow. I only play the Pokemon video games. I do not watch the show or play the card game. Despite this, I still love Pokemon, and I become engrossed in its world every time I play. That’s how I want my content to be. I want it to be enjoyable in any form of media without the watcher/reader feeling that they need more pieces to enjoy the experience entirely. I want my content to be a convenient service to those who desire it.

 

I suppose my shyness does stem from the fact that I post my content on Social Networking Sites that are directly tied to my personal identity. In real life, I do not parade around the fact to strangers that I enjoy playing obscure video games. I do not wish to be seen as absurd. Only when somebody knows me, do I exfoliate my hobbies. I think I enjoy posting my content on YouTube channel because my face is not tied to it. I have no videos that show my face or history there, so I have no problem posting my creations there. I was even contemplating making a new twitter account for this website, so newer visitors do not see my face. And, to be honest, like 3% of my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter enjoy my subject matter. I feel comfortable in my anonymity. I feel scared to share and show my content because I fear the judgment. I fear strangers infringing on my personal identity. However, the creation of other social media networks that have no ties to my identity may alleviate this concern. However, gaining traction on a “Nerdy Knowledge” Twitter account will likely take months to accomplish. But, I must try and pursue my dreams if I want this to become a career. I love creating videos and articles so much, that I must be willing to push past this emotional barrier.

It also doesn’t help that I am apparently not showing up on any Google searches. When I type in “Nerdy Knowledge” on Google, I’m not even on the first page! And knowing what I do about affordances, and the fact that nobody stays on a web page for longer than a few seconds, that is terrible. Nobody will find me this way. This was when I discovered meta data. Meta data is this mysterious, magical force that will allow my content to pop up on Google searches. At least, that is my conception of it. When I say I discovered it, that does not mean I understand it. I have tried multiple WordPress plugins that boast better “Network Traffic” and “marketability” and other buzz words. So this is currently my goal: get myself to pop up on Google search. To do this, I am going to try and post more content. I can also post shorter, more digestible articles with pictures and lists. I will still make long posts when necessary, but these are excellent alternatives. I can even call them “bit-lists” to talk about small topics that I do not feel require a hefty analysis. Frequent posting keeps my content relevant and continuous. I will also pursue metadata and how Google integrates it. I didn’t realize how much technical prowess this would all take, but if I am serious about turning this website into something major, then I need the dedication to match the task.

I’ll start now:

 

Games get bigger and more cinematic every year. Although a lot of 2016’s best games have gameplay as its priority, games like Uncharted 4 definitely feel like an interactive movie, rather than a game. A lot goes into the production of any form of media. A production requires hundreds of individuals all with differing skill sets. A large production is a stressful job, and yet, some positions get neglected in favour of others. I’m sure you can tell by the title who I advocate for.

Steve Blum, the voice of many characters like Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, has put up a voice actor strike called “Game Actors For All” against multiple video game companies. He claims that voice actors undergo a lot of strenuous work with little breaks, appreciation, and pay. All of this, in my opinion, is true. It may sound silly; voice actors on strike for a video game? But they’re games, not movies! Well, as I said earlier, games are becoming more and more cinematic. That means a stronger push for big name actors to provide their voices, and more importantly, motion captured movement. As technology progresses and graphical capabilities increase, so does the demand for motion captured and “life-like” performances. Well, as life-like as this:

Until Dawn can’t quite escape the uncanny valley

Regardless, appearances sell. To the casual gamer, visuals are very important. Looking good is how a game can market itself it a wide audience. This means that every worker on a game must be producing at peak performance. The video game industry is notorious for setting unrealistic deadlines that require absurd amounts of overtime hours to meet. Again, games are incredibly expensive to make, are they are in a volatile market. If a big budget, 80 million dollar production sells less than 2 million copies, it is deemed a flop, and hundreds lose their jobs. This discourages entertainment and further contributes to the homogenization of big budget games. In other words, all games feel the same because that is what is safe.

Production takes longer than ever before. This increases pressure on voice actors and requires them to do a lot of stressful vocal work, potentially hundreds of times to get the perfect take. Voice acting for gaming even requires voice actors to learn traditional acting. This contributes to a work culture that requires older voice actors to adapt fast. Games evolve VERY quickly, as groundbreaking titles can become obsolete within 2-3 years. The shift between console generations is becoming blurrier with each subsequent generation, as technology improves at an astounding rate. Voice actors require ideal working conditions to perform to this increasing standard.

Going on strike is a dangerous task, as there are plenty of budding voice actors eager to take on major roles. Can you blame the college graduate who wants to make a name for themselves taking a role that may be incredibly crushing on their soul? Can you blame the starving student looking for their big chance and ignoring this strike without any supplemental income? I don’t condemn the voice actors for not abiding by Blum’s strike. It is their personal decision to work where they can find work.

Game companies do not care for voice actors. Interestingly, Japan has multiple schools solely dedicated to voice acting. That country has a completely different outlook on the importance of voice acting. I honestly believe that voice acting can even be harder than traditional acting. More than half of all communication is non-verbal, so voice actors are seriously limited in their portrayals. Emoting with a voice is an incredibly difficult task, and not everybody can do it. I wish North American game companies valued the skill of voice acting as much as Japan does, as, without it, video games and cartoons would collapse.

 

I am glad I have been blessed by the SFU professor gods to review Oceanside Reads’ marketability. Not because I am an expert in understanding subtle design choices and algorithm manipulation (I think I made that up), but because I love to read books and I understand the culture of book readers somewhat!

Without delving into specific posts, This is the very first image I see:oceanside-reads

Already, the background strikes me first. The colours are very muted and relaxed. It is an incredibly peaceful image. I am then drawn towards the subtitle “Beaches, Books, and Bitching” and that already shows a lack of book snobbiness, which is great. I love it when people can talk about reading, but solely talk about the content of the book without drawing attention to the fact that they read. Nothing on this website suggests condescension, which I think is great, because I believe this site is very much meant to welcome the casual reader. Much like how I intend my site to be a place where people learn, I think this site is incredibly inviting with the “What to Read Next” page. The background imagery evokes the feeling of beachside relaxation, so that comforting, engrossing feeling is one I believe has been met. This is incredibly corny, but during the first critical 5 seconds of gazing at this page, I could hear the sound of waves on the seashore in the background. I believe Cassidy is set in a very distinct aesthetic that appeals to many people by connoting pleasant imagery.

What I like about this site, is that there is a definite niche, and that niche is very much satisfied. Cassidy has identified what she wished to write about at the beginning of the semester, and she has completely ran with it. I appreciate the confidence to run with passions, and I believe it is exuded in Cassidy’s writing. I do not see many sites discussing more recent novels such as “All the Light We Cannot See”, and that is refreshing. I think there is a new booming generation of Younger Readers who may want to have a second opinion on a product. Ye Olden Literature like Heart of Darkness and Mrs. Dalloway have been analyzed to death. But what of newer writers trying to make a name for themselves? Richard Nash’s article discusses literature’s inherent purpose, and I believe what allows writing to impact society are the individuals who invite others into its Public Sphere. I hear it all the time: “Who has time to read? I don’t have the attention span! It takes so long to finish a book!” Well, I believe Cassidy’s site can work as a stepping stone for unconfident individuals. One cannot expect a 12-year-old who has never read for pleasure to dive right into Ulysses for enjoyment. That’s why literature needs sites like Cassidy’s that are not condescending about books, but rather, inviting. Cassidy exudes confidence and, while she is welcoming to eager readers, she is still passionate and focused on her content. A delicate balance is struck between marketability and passion.

Although the design is very casual, I also enjoy how organized the site’s content is. A feature I wish I understood was how to separate PUB 101 content from my regular content. It keeps her primary content the center of attention always. Readers on Cassidy’s site are able to immersed in her content without the juxtaposition between University content and her regular content. I also like how her posts are written, and her content is about the written word, so audiences are used to it. Her posts market themselves, as avid readers know the power of the written word, and those that are eager to read probably don’t mind a few hundred words. Although I initially thought Cassidy’s posts were kind of long, I kind of realized they are the perfect length. Readers who endure thousands upon thousands of words see this as a breezy, enjoyable review, and those who do not read often see it as a welcome challenge. Cassidy’s posts say exactly as much as they need to to be a summative review.

If I had to make a few suggestions, I would recommend making posts that are more analytical about Cassidy’s favourite books. This may be my projections on another person’s content, but if Cassidy has a book that truly means something to her, I think it is an opportunity for passionate content! It doesn’t have to be about “high literature art,” it could just be about something that means a lot to her. It could add another aspect of her site aside from light, casual reviews. I’m only suggesting to include thise if she wants to, I’m not saying “I AM THE ARBITER OF CONTENT ON THE INTERNET, DO AS I SAY,” because I like Cassidy’s site. She has identified her audience, and she is appealing to it.

Another potential improvement Cassidy could make are “in-progress” posts. This is content that provides initial impressions of reading novels for the first time. This content does not need to be the bulk of her content, but it could put her site in favour of Google algorithms. A more regular post schedule means that her audience comes back more frequently, and if they come back more often, that means that Google’s robot overlords will say to themselves “hey this book site is pretty dope”, and Search Engines will favour her. It’s a good thing for the business side. But it can also be beneficial to fill in the wait time for readers looking for her main posts. With University being incredibly taxing on time, these smaller, “first impressions”, or “story so far” posts can provide content when caught in tumultuous times.

Overall, I love Cassidy’s site, as evidenced by my endless gushing. I think she has a clear focus, and she has been running with it since she started. The theme and imagery on her site evoke the relaxation of the beach and invites me into her content. Cassidy is confident in her craft, and it shows in her writing style. I believe Cassidy has a fantastic product, and I would love to see more of it!

I have a confession to make. Despite the booming growth of Internet and Technology in the industrializing India and China, I am not a billionaire e-celebrity. I know. It is hard to believe. In fact, according to Google Analytics, I get, on average, a single page view a day. What’s even more shocking, is that person viewing my page is me. In fact, most of my viewers over this semester have been people I know. I was initially excited to see all of these individuals visit from places like New Zealand and Morocco, but upon further research, they are most likely bots. Knowing that 3 billion people in the world have access to the internet puts into perspective the obscurity of my site. I am just a speck of dust in the skyscraper that is internet popularity. I just started my site and the lack of red carpets and paparazzi does not surprise me. I did not expect my site to be reaching tremendous public acclaim.

The average session on my site is surprisingly long, hovering around 3 minutes. In this time of instant access to everything, having anybody read my posts for more than 2 minutes is incredible. Again, this data can be skewed; I have left my site open in a tab for hours before. Not many people go to my home page either, so I think that means I need to make my “Nerdy Knowledge” headline pop out more. It is also evident that maybe I should get a suggestion plug-in. Perhaps I could see if there is a way for a post to pop up at the bottom right and say something like “if you enjoy this article, check this one out!” Or perhaps on my posts from now on, I can have a “similar readings” section, so people keep exploring. I want people to stay and become engrossed in my site, and it is evident from Google Analytics that I need to include my readers even more.

What also is not surprising, are the spikes in readership when I link my posts to social media. The very first post I linked garnered 80 people. While that is an insignificant number to nearly anybody, it means a lot to me. What does not mean a lot to me, is the huge drop-off rate after that post. None of my friends on Facebook wanted to explore the rest of my site, and that made me sad. Well, not really, it is understandable, honestly. I go on articles posted on Reddit then immediately close the tab afterward. It isn’t a failure with the site that posted the article, but more so just a psychological thing. When browsing on a site like Facebook, I want to remain on Facebook. A linked article is just a branch of Facebook in my head. Perhaps that is why 1 billion people are using Messenger. People don’t want to (or cannot) be apart from Facebook. Not because it is such a clean, presentable site, but maybe because it has read my search tendencies and aggregated a feed to meet my interests. Facebook is the most generic, safe social media platform, and that is why it has the widest appeal. Nobody gets excited to use messenger; they merely say in their head “I am going to reply to this using Messenger since that is what I believe to be normal.” Well nobody obviously says that that would be weird, but Facebook has implanted this feeling, this, subconscious urge to use messenger to communicate. Messenger is appealing to me because phone plans are expensive and I am incredibly cheap. I can access Messenger, and it is an ad-free, fast, appealing service. Plus, it is what everybody uses, so I can talk to as many friends as I can. Facebook’s broad appeal has an entire continent’s population in their grasp…while my website only has my family. But hey, I usually get a spike of 6 page views when I make a new post! But Facebook gives me, on average, 20 more views, so I guess they got me too.

I used to fall for Facebook’s sleek, happy imagery in their ads. I used to fall for the propaganda, claiming they unite the world together. I used to believe that until 2015 when my Facebook feed became plagued with the most deplorable garbage. But I extra realized it when I saw the malicious intentions of Internet.org. I had heard India had rejected Internet.org, but I never understood the reason. However, when I thought about it, I realized I heard India banned Internet.org via a Facebook article. I believe the control over people’s internet access is akin to what is happening in North Korea. I will never have any visitors on my site from North Korea because they have their own, even more, corrupt version of the internet. I am okay with a lack of Indian visitors because I want them to come to my site of their volition. I do not want them to be forced to view it because Facebook urges them in a particular direction. I would like to be separated from the big bad corporations. I would LIKE to be, but if I actually will be well…time will have to tell for that.

Now I definitely won’t be showing up on the Dark Web. I remember last year, being obsessed with the Dark Web. Knowing that 98% of the internet is hidden? It made me feel like a detective! However, I now know that my information is false and that the Deep and Dark Web are not interchangeable terms. I always knew that nothing disappeared on the internet, and I know that the Deep Web is not some haven for guns and drugs. A majority of it is nonsensical files and deleted images. It is nowhere near as romantic as Buzzfeed articles would make us believe. Google Analytics won’t track who comes from the Deep Web, because, I am just one of the billion cogs in the internet machine. I am just doing my thing like anybody else in this class, and that is perfectly acceptable. I would rather be a star in Morocco rather than a target of deep web FBI dwellings.

Final Fantasy 10 and Final Fantasy 13 are very similar games. Both games are incredibly linear and provide very few alternate paths on their maps. Both games do not contain an overworld for the player to explore and discover for themselves. Yet, Final Fantasy 13 gets panned by fans for being a dull, confusing slog, while Final Fantasy 10 gets much more praise. Why is that? Well, there are a lot of small reasons, but I have pinpointed three distinct differences that separate Final Fantasy 13 from Final Fantasy 10. These are completely arbitrary and are solely my opinion, so if you disagree, that’s great.  If you enjoy Final Fantasy 13, then that’s awesome! You could love something that I couldn’t. Anyways, onto the list.

Difference #1: The Battle System

Let’s make it clear: Games that railroad you on a particular linear path are fine. Linearity is not the bane of gaming, and if a game is a sandbox game with hours and hours of content, that does not make it superior. Bigger does not mean better. I say this because Final Fantasy 10 is a very linear game that is very enjoyable. A core reason for this is just how gosh darn good the battle system is. If I had to rank turn-based battle systems in RPG’s, Final Fantasy 10’s would be in the top three. There are a lot of reasons for this. First of which is the battle theme. It’s incredibly catchy. No matter how many times I hear it, I never get tired of it. And you will hear it hundreds of times, especially the first thirty seconds.

Final Fantasy 13’s battle theme is also fantastic, but it takes a little too long to get good. And by too long, I mean about 10 seconds. That doesn’t seem like very much, but when a battle starts in Final Fantasy 10, the screen shatters, the trumpets blare, and you know that you’re ready for action. Final Fantasy 13’s battle theme swells but doesn’t become bombastic until nearly a minute into the song. By then, the player has most likely progressed through combat enough before they can hear the meat of the song. Like Final Fantasy 10, you are going to be fighting A LOT of battles in 13, and the battle theme is unchanging. Therefore, a lot of time is spent listening to build up, with not enough payoff. Listening to Final Fantasy 13’s battle theme on its own is fantastic, but its application in the game diminishes potential excitement. At least, it does for how exciting an RPG fight can be.

And Final Fantasy 13’s combat isn’t turn-based, it’s a pseudo compromise between an action battle system and a turn-based one. But what personally turned me off from combat was the “auto-battle” option and the control over only a single party member. I didn’t feel like I could instill strategies and work around bosses using all of my party members. Final Fantasy 12 had similar combat to 13, and it allowed you to switch to and command your party members to do whatever you wanted. It’s bizarre to me that a sequel in the same franchise would regress instead of improving on an already established system. Also, I was not a huge fan of the paradigm system. It allowed you to switch party members to specific phases and allowed for strategic play, but there was still a lack of control. It felt to me at least that I was fighting against a system as opposed to harnessing it. Furthermore, the auto-battle option just took all of the thinking away. I just hammered the “x” button on my PS3, and I got the perfect results. Final Fantasy 13 would sometimes anticipate incoming attacks and take the correct safety precautions for me. There was no way that I could be better than this system. Auto-battle a problem, because psychologically if a player has a dominant strategy, they will abuse it. I can understand implementing a system for an audience who just wants to see the story and spectacle play out, but I believe there is a better option than having it set as the very first command the player can select. Games like the “Tales of” series constrict the player to one character as well, yes, but they also allow you to set individual skills and actions to your buttons. This allows for so much depth in the combat, as you can order your party on the fly, contribute to combos, and build the team you want. Final Fantasy 13 does not allow that freedom.

Final Fantasy 10’s turn based combat, however, actively encourages you to use every party member’s strengths. Final Fantasy 10 does the unthinkable and creates random battles that are engaging. Each party member is good at killing specific enemy types, so the player has to switch on the fly and make correct decisions. It subconsciously encourages variety and showcases what every character can do. Hitting “x” repeatedly will not lead to a successful encounter, as the player must always make decisions. There is no “super battle system computer” superior to the player. Also, the order of actions at the top right allows the player to strategize their options and plan ahead. Although random encounters are not particularly difficult, I never really dreaded them. Animations are slick and quick, allowing for satisfying hits and flashes. Enemies can inflict a multitude of status effects, which keeps the player paying attention and more engaged with the game. Auto-battle in Final Fantasy 13 takes away that engagement entirely.

Bosses in Final Fantasy 10 are surprisingly challenging and often consist of a gimmick that the player has to work around. Some bosses regularly inflict status effects, while some put mines below the player’s feet, forcing them to shift around constantly. The turn-based combat in a make-believe arena allows for more freedom and versatility with the battle system. Final Fantasy 13’s battles happen right where you encounter an enemy. While this system is impressive, it is also flawed, as environments for fights never compliment or enhance the combat in any way. Final Fantasy 10’s battle system is more fun, more strategic, and more engaging than Final Fantasy 13’s.

Difference #2: The World/Atmosphere

I don’t exactly know how to word this correctly, but the world of Spira in Final Fantasy 10 was much more memorable than Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy 13. I believe there are a lot of cool and interesting tidbits in Gran Pulse, and I enjoy the oppressive setting, but a lot of it felt drab to me. Final Fantasy 10’s world was equally depressing, but it was so much more poignant. I think there are a few reasons for that.

Final Fantasy 10’s world is under constant oppression by a destructive force called Sin. Towns aren’t allowed to prosper because of the threat of destruction. The population is low, and deaths are abundant. When people die (which they do a lot), they are often transformed into monsters, rather than moving onto the afterlife. People are not warring with each other; they are trying to band together with the hope that individuals called “summoners” can reverse this cycle of death and despair. Summoners must endure grueling pilgrimages over the entire planet just to prepare a fight with Sin. Summoners are designated from birth and have a whole world expecting great things of them. That concept interesting, and the game takes a lot of time for you to get acclimated to this world and how terrifying it truly is, despite its vivid beach imagery.

Final Fantasy 13 has party members being hunted down, which is also interesting, but it is just always so drab and bland. Party members and people in Final Fantasy 10 had hope, and that hope was worth fighting for. Everybody is “The Batman” in Final Fantasy 13. Party members rarely crack a smile or tell a joke. Almost every character is brooding that “their fate is predestined” and that they are doomed. Aside from Sazh, who’s son he is trying to save, there is no reason for me to care about fixing the issues the characters face. I have never gotten a glimpse of happiness or any evidence of better times.

macalania
Macalania Woods from Final Fantasy 10

It isn’t merely a narrative reason either, the graphics and art are more memorable for me in Final Fantasy 10. However, I will admit this is because I have an unfair bias for pre-rendered backgrounds. Final Fantasy 13 is a gorgeous game if you are looking solely at textures and environments, but for atmosphere, Final Fantasy 10 has it in the bag. Everything in Final Fantasy 13 felt like spectacle was the priority before a cohesive world. It all looks incredible, but I do not find myself getting absorbed in the environments like I do in Final Fantasy 10.

And a big contributor to this is the music and sound design. A big joke against Final Fantasy 13 is the footstep sound as Lightning walks. Usually, you can hardly hear the music over the sound of your character’s feet clop-clopping against the floor. This sounds like an incredibly petty complaint, but over the course of a 30-50 hour adventure, it gets grating. I quite enjoy the character dialogue, though, as it develops characters and reminds the player of what their focus is. But outside of battles in Final Fantasy 10, you can only hear the soundtrack, which, I have no complaints about because it is amazing.

Final Fantasy 10’s soundtrack is one of my favourite soundtracks ever. Period. In any medium. I love it so much. Almost all 100+ songs are memorable and well-produced. It’s rare that a soundtrack can work as ambient music for an environment, and also be good on its own. This example is going to be hard to articulate in text, so I recommend you watch the video for this article.

Look at this image: calm-lands

Now look at this image while listening to this song. What emotions are evoked? I’ll give you 20 seconds.

Scale. Adventure. Serenity. A time to relax and drift away. These are the feelings that I experience every time I get here in the game. Because this section of the game comes after an intense moment, and it just offers a chance for…reflection. It is placed strategically close to the end of the game so everything can be evaluated. This area is called The Calm Lands, and it offers the player precious quiet time.

Locations in Final Fantasy 13 are fascinating yet; they are missing something. The game lacks valuable context and lore to allow its world and environments to flourish. Which brings me to the last difference:

Difference #3: The Story

The big kahuna, the (arguably) most valuable part of an RPG, its story. Anybody who knows anything about Final Fantasy 13 usually talks about two things: “The Hallway,” to refer to the intense linearity, and “The Novels,” which refers to the supplemental text in the form of an in-game glossary. I’m interested in the novel. Although I know this problem has been beaten to death and ranted on forever, I want to go even further, because I’m a big jerk-dude.

The locations in Final Fantasy 13 are fascinating. I bet you didn’t expect that. I can pull a random location from the game, and it will have history, lore, and a purpose. For example, here is a picture and an excerpt from the Gapra Whitewood in Final Fantasy 13:

gapra

Under the jurisdiction of the Sanctum military, the Whitewood serves as an experimental facility for conducting research into bioweapons. The security of this classified area is built in the design—the paths winding through the trees are deliberately confusing, causing intruders to become hopelessly lost.”

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? A mechanical forest meant for testing biochemical weapons of war, where its complexity is its security mechanism. It is so complicated that soldiers have to carry a map around with them, or they will get hopelessly lost. Final Fantasy 10 doesn’t have these codex entries to add to areas, which is a shame. I would love to read additional lore about areas on subsequent playthroughs. However, I do not lose sleep over this issue because Final Fantasy 10 does not REQUIRE codex entries.

The main story and the critical terms and jargon in Final Fantasy 13 are very rarely explained in cutscenes. That is a huge problem for a game with hours of cutscenes. The cutscenes and story lose all of its impact if the player is not able to understand it. The player has to open up a codex entry and read about the world themselves. The most interesting parts of the game are hiding these optional readings. However, within these readings, are aspects of the story that are necessary to enjoy it. Cutscenes are essentially pointless, and that is sad because there is an obscene amount of effort and spectacle put into them. The lack of purpose and emotion diminishes the power of cutscenes.

The reason there is all of this confusion in Final Fantasy 13 is that there is no exposition. The party members all seem to know exactly what is going on, so there is no need for anybody to explain anything. This turns the story into an incomprehensible mess unless the player reads a novel’s worth of paragraphs. Even Hope, who is a child, and would likely be questioning a lot of the world’s problems, does not. He abstains from it, and the game suffers because it relies on the player to find the answers for themselves. Now ambiguity itself is not a bad thing, as it can stir up intrigue. Dark Souls does ambiguity very well. But, the story is not the primary focus of those games, their combat is. Final Fantasy 13 is a very story-driven game with tons of cutscenes and reading. It wants the player to be engrossed in its narrative, yet it does not take the necessary steps to invite them into it.

Final Fantasy 10’s protagonist, Tidus, was transported to the world of Spira against his will. It has an entirely different culture, technology, landscape, and values from what he has experienced his whole life. He has to adapt and to adapt; he has to ask questions. Tidus is the most valuable piece in Final Fantasy 10, and what, for me at least, elevates it above Final Fantasy 13. Some people perceive Tidus as obnoxious, insensitive, and annoying. While I concede that all of those things are true, I also think he exudes positivity. He is upbeat, optimistic, and still has wonder left in him. In the world of Spira – the world where happiness has been drained from so many people’s hearts, Tidus is a necessity. He reminds the characters, and the player to go against all the odds and customs to do the right thing. His ignorance of Spira’s history becomes a benefit for him, as none of its rules hold him back. Although this leads Tidus to do incredibly stupid and regrettable acts, he at least learns from them.

I’m focusing on Tidus because, admittedly, the characters in Final Fantasy 10 aren’t particularly interesting. Tidus has the most personality and serves the story of the game by being a siphon for the player. The player, like Tidus, has no idea what Spira is and needs these questions answered for himself.

Like I said earlier, I do wish Final Fantasy 10 had the codex entries of Final Fantasy 13. The NPC’s in Final Fantasy 10 are often really bland and provide zero insight. It would be nice if there were more flavour text for players who sought it out. However, if I had to choose between which narrative style I would prefer, I would gladly take Final Fantasy 10’s over 13’s. Final Fantasy 13’s story was focused on the spectacle and creating these moments that are clearly meant to be epic and memorable. Yet, Final Fantasy 13 forgot the fundamentals of storytelling. It skipped the necessary base to a narrative and went straight for the “cool stuff,” and it was all the worse for it. The moments that probably cost a lot of money to make, and are much more elaborate than Final Fantasy 10s, ultimately mean less because there is no emotion or purpose behind it. At least, it certainly feels like there is no passion.

Conclusion

I have been very negative to Final Fantasy 13, as are many others. I do not find it to be an enjoyable game, but I understand why people like it. It is pretty, the gameplay can be fun if you ignore the “auto-battle” function, and the cutscenes are spectacular. Yet, it is its lack of heart and purpose that drives me away from it and towards Final Fantasy 10. Final Fantasy 10 is a great game with a fun, immersive battle system, a delicately crafted world, and an entertaining story.

 

 

 

 

 

The idea of a website that I can run, write my opinions on, and make a living off of is a tantalizing prospect. However, I am not the only person who thought of this idea. In fact, as I have said in my previous Process Posts, I am acutely aware of how unoriginal my creation is. Despite this, however, monetization is something I want to try. It is better than trying an idea and having a slim chance of it taking off than never trying at all.

Thankfully, I have many margins on my site that need to be filled up. I will put ads there, so they hopefully do not intrude the reader’s experience. I applied for Google AdSense, but it detected that my email for my Youtube Channel already had it installed (I don’t know how it did this, and it is very creepy). I had to connect my Youtube email and personal email to the same account so that I could apply AdSense on my site. However, I do not wish to employ ads immediately. I want to utilize the Child Theme I have been developing and edit the code to mold the site I desire before implementing ads. I do not wish for this site to become an incoherent mess. It seems odd, but I treat this site as a child of mine – constantly caring for it and checking it. In my free time, I write and create videos for it. I love it, but I don’t want it to make it a “money” thing immediately. That diminishes the passion I put into it. It ceases to become a hobby in my spare time and instead becomes a business. Heartless, lifeless articles pumped out continuously, riddled with typos and devoid of soul. Okay, that is a bit dramatic but, I am not implementing ads immediately, despite being accepted by AdSense. Perhaps in the future, but not while this journey is in its infancy.

I don’t want to instigate a Kickstarter campaign to pursue my dreams. I do not believe I am worthy of a few thousand dollars based off of promises, and secondly, I want to establish myself first. If I Kickstart a site, that means I have many expectations. Not only would my audience be expecting tip-top content, but I would also have to produce it regularly to maintain this following. It is a tad embarrassing if I start up a Kickstarter, and I don’t get a single cent. If I get popular in the future, everybody will be able to see that failure and I will never live it down! Perhaps I would like to employ a site like Patreon to help in the future. I would like this site and my Youtube channel to be my job, alongside streaming on Twitch.tv, so Patreon’s monthly revenue would help me out tremendously. But again, not right now.

Is my future implementation of ads contributing to the capitalist machine as described by Nilay Patel’s article? Well, maybe, but it certainly is not my intention. What I found fascinating was Apple trying to quell google’s ad revenue machine. When browsing on friends’ iPhone’s, I didn’t even notice that there were no ads. I suppose that means Apple succeeded. I was acclimated to their service subconsciously, and I enjoyed how easy Safari is to navigate. However, as somebody who’s favourite content creators rely on ads to keep creating, Apple’s methods are insidious to me. The phrase “The Next Internet is the TV” struck a chord with me, as every site I go to becomes more bombastic and colourful with their advertisements. I am overwhelmed with neon yellows, bold, red Buzzfeed text, and ridiculous looking faces everywhere I go. Ads are not limited solely to suspicious bootlegs on sidebars – they can be thumbnails in Youtube videos as well. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how interconnected a lot of sites are to corporations. Google is a terrifying beast worth billions of dollars, and I love them. I know it is probably morally wrong on many levels to love them, but they provide services and a potential way of life for me. Their practices of slight inconveniences are more welcoming than the blissful ignorance of ad-less Apple products.

Nobody likes to hear that a popular, local indie coffee shop is closing down. That’s why I feel bad supporting big corporations when sites like The Toast get shut down due to lack of ad revenue. This article left me with a moral question: when is it right to use Adblock? Some sites I have no problem using AdBlock on because of the influx of advertisements they fling at me. Another side of me hates that I use it, because if I get big on Youtube, then ads become my income, and I become a hypocrite. Imagine if that information got leaked to the web, what a scandal. Do some sites ever deserve AdBlock? Something is always someone’s passion and hard work, shouldn’t they be rewarded for it? As much as Forbes enrages me with its mandatory AdBlock removal, I understand why its implementation. I have settled on a compromise for my existential Ad consumption crisis. I whitelist Youtube, and individual sites that I believe deserve the revenue. If it is an indie publisher or a rising Youtuber, then I turn my adblocker off. I want to support certain people. But, if I get taken to a clickbait site that requires me to slog through 20 pages of 20 pictures then the inconvenience becomes too much for me to bear. I know it sounds like a middling move – picking and choosing which sites get blocked – but it is the best I can do to balance my procrastination.

In conclusion, I believe advertisements on sites are a good thing, and I would certainly like to implement them on my site in the future. Although it makes the Internet a less free space, and the presence of ads leads to potentially passionless content, I respect the decision of those who desire to make a living. There are so many careers that have been opened up (and ruined) by the internet. Advertisements provide the opportunity for people to make a living off their passions, and I think that is magical.