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Anime & Manga

Dreaming Anime Reviews: AIR

Angel Beats -- Dreamcastor Rei

Dangan Ronpa: The Animation -- EO


Art & Literature

Let's Read "Perfect Strangers"

Giving and Taking Feedback


Writing Resources -- EO



Gamers Corner -- Dark_Angel 13

Sims 4 Unveiled

Sims Medieval -- EO



Dumbing of Age -- EO



Microsoft Changes Course on Windows 8 -- Dae314

Flu Shot -- Minkseru


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With May already half over, it’s time to begin thinking about superlatives! This will be our fifth iteration of the superlatives, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of possible titles to bestow upon our members. Get thinking about any superlative titles you’d like to see and submit them in thread.


The previous iterations can be found on the forum under the tag “Superlatives”, so if you’d like to check out what titles we’ve already used, they’re easy to find. Keep in mind that the superlatives should be on the positive side and you should avoid any titles that are cruel or mean-spirited.


We would also like to reiterate that we need writers for the newsletter! A new submission method has been added to the current selection—which includes PM, email, and a Google form. The new link can be found at the end of the newsletter.


As mentioned in the last issue, we’ve expanded our purview regarding article topics, so don’t feel limited to the six categories—Anime & Manga, Art & Literature, Entertainment, Gaming, Graphics, Tech—we’ve laid out before.


If you have any questions, be sure to check out the FAQ. You can also contact us via PM or in thread.


On a final note, we would like to thank our donators for their contributions and ask those who are able to please consider dropping a few coins in the tin for this month!


[ PDF Download ]




Article Formatting


Not too long ago, I wrote up the formatting guidelines for the newsletter for the purposes of consistency. I wanted take a moment to talk about each of the bullet points and why I made the decisions I did.


One space after each period.


There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is consistency. A single space after sentences also tends to be standard on the Internet and in printed publications. If everyone spaces their sentences the same way, it makes it easier on me when I piece together the PDF.


Another thing to consider is the fact that double-spacing after sentences can create a waterfall effect, where the white space creates rivers in the text and leads the eye away, making it difficult for dyslexic readers.


Even if you don’t actually type this way, you can easily do a Find-and-Replace to get rid of the extraneous spaces. I already do this for any articles that come my way with double spaces, but I would prefer if people did this themselves.


Do not indent your paragraphs.


This is to save me the hassle of deleting the indents. Sometimes people indent with the spacebar instead of the Tab key, which makes deleting the indents kind of annoying.


This practise is usually paired with paragraphs that aren’t separated by line breaks. Again, this is something I already fix myself, but it’s most appreciated if people did this themselves.


Be as consistent as possible.


Sometimes I got articles where the date would be featured in two or three different formats, or the rating format (5/5 Rating vs Rating of 5/5) would change halfway through. I change this myself, but again, I’d prefer if people kept an eye out for this.


Use one font.


This hasn’t been a problem yet. I hope this deters anyone from submitting ransom-note style articles, because I already completely disregard everyone’s font choices.


Note that this does not refer to formatting like italics and bolding, which I do retain.


Put your article title in the document title, not in the article itself.


This is for word count purposes. Some people have longer titles that span more than one or two words. If you want an image next to your article title, just drop a comment about it.


You don’t have to sign your articles.


Another word count issue. I go out of my way to make sure each article is properly credited--you can see in the forum version that writers are not only named in the table of contents, but under the articles themselves. Writers are credited at the top of their articles in the PDF version.


Hopefully this clears up any possible questions had about the formatting guidelines. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know via the feedback form or on the forum!



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Dreaming Anime Reviews: AIR

Dreamcastor Rei


Synopsis: Yukito Kunisaki is on a journey in search of the Winged Maiden who was bound to the sky cen-turies ago, after hearing an old childhood tale from his mother. As Yukito shows his puppet show to peo-ple in an attempt to make some money, he finds himself in a small town in which he did not expect to stay very long. However, when he meets an unusual girl named Misuzu, things take a drastic turn as he is invited to stay with her.
By staying in the quaint town, Yukito soon becomes friends with the locals. As he gets to know them bet-ter, he learns of their problems and decides to help, putting his search for the Winged Maiden on hold. With his search on hold, and his growing attachment to Misuzu and the small town, will Yukito ever find the Winged Maiden, or is she closer than he thought? [MAL]





Review: This anime has two stories wrapped into its short series. The main part of the series revolves around a strange girl who is obsessed with dino-saurs, Misuzu, and an equally strange guy who is searching for the Winged Maiden, Yukito. Misuzu is a lonely girl who has trouble making friends, when one day she meets Yukito.
Misuzu has a condition where she uncontrollably cries when she comes close to befriending someone. It's not long before she becomes ill and makes it to where she becomes childlike and resorts to having to use a wheelchair.

During the series you discover the reason behind everything, though, I admit was a bit confusing. That is what makes it all the more intriguing. The second story kind of explains why Misuzu condition’s is what it is. I'd love to explain more, but wouldn't that kill the story before watching it?


Plot: [5/5]
The plot was absolutely amazing. This is a very touching series. If you have a heart then this will definitely touch it in so many ways. Very intriguing and sentimental. I was very surprised by this series. For such a short series, it did really well fitting this all together.
Characters: [5/5]
The characters were amazing. You really feel like you're getting in touch with the characters’ lives, especially Misuzu, even to the very end of the series... she never regrets on her life and manages to have a smile even at the very end.
Art: [5/5]
The art the KEY put into is astonishing and just epic. KEY is just epic with this series. Every little bit of the artwork is absolutely outstanding.
Music: [5/5]
As per usual, music flows smoothly and voice actors were matched pretty well with the characters. Beautiful opening and ending to the anime. One of my favorites. Nothing to complain about with this series.
Awesomeness Factor: [5/5]
If you like KEY's animes and what they do then you should watch this anime. It may be short, but it is very awesome... very touching.



Angel Beats

Dreamcastor Rei


Synopsis: Otonashi awakens only to learn he is dead. A rifle-toting girl named Yuri explains that they are in the afterlife, and Otonashi realizes the only thing he can remember about himself is his name. Yuri tells him that she leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and wages war against a girl named Tenshi. Unable to believe Yuri's claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn't go as he intended.
Otonashi decides to join the SSS and battle Tenshi, but he finds himself oddly drawn to her. While trying to regain his memories and understand Tenshi, he gradually unravels the mysteries of the afterlife. [MAL]





Review: This anime is quite hilarious. Otonashi wakes up in a strange place and encounters a gun-toting girl, Yuri, who tells him he is dead. The only thing he remembers is his name. They fight against another girl named Angel who isn't what she seems. Otonashi joins the Battlefront to solve the mysteries around the world of the afterlife.
Plot: [5/5]
The plot was absolutely amazing. Comedy was definitely not lacking. It was done tastefully and always made me laugh really hard at some stupid-but-hilarious moments. It may be a short series but it really told an interesting story. Angel Beats leaves you wanting more, especially with the way they left the ending of the series.
Characters: [5/5]
The character were amazing and hilarious. The backstories, like all of KEY's works, were particularly painful and made you feel so bad for the characters... especially Yuri.
Art: [5/5]
The art the KEY put into this was amazing, like always. KEY is just epic with their work. Every little bit of the artwork is absolutely outstanding. KEY’s art inspires my work a lot... it makes me try even harder to be that good.
Music: [5/5]
As per usual, music flows smoothly and voice actors were matched pretty well with the characters. Beautiful opening and ending to the anime. One of my favorites.
Awesomeness Factor: [5/5]
If you like KEY's animes and what they do then DEFINITELY watch this anime. It may be short but it is very awesome.



Dangan Ronpa: The Animation

Emotional Outlet


Slated to air in July, Dangan Ronpa: The Animation will likely be the most accessible way for western audiences to consume something Dangan Ronpa related without having to read an LP on Something Awful, where the paywall can be daunting--to say nothing of the word filter.
The official site for the anime has some information, including a Youtube sneak peek. The characters are confirmed to have the same voice actors as in the game, and though the art style is changed for the anime format, it appears to retain the feel and atmosphere of the game.






There are, of course, some concerns.
First is the fact that the anime is directed by Seiji Kishi, the same person who directed Persona 4: The Animation (in case the nomenclature wasn’t much of a hint). As someone who isn’t a large consumer of anime or the Persona series, most everything I understand about the potential trainwreck the Dangan Ronpa anime can be is based on a few scattered reviews of the Persona 4 anime.
Since I have a fairly high tolerance for terrible things, I’m willing to take the risk. For others, this might be off-putting enough to warrant abstaining from the anime until reviews are in.
Another concern is whether the adaption will follow the game’s plot, which means those who have read the LP or played the game will know exactly what’s going to happen next, or if the plot will depart from the game in order to give a fresh experience for all consumers.
I have no strong feelings about it either way, since spoilers don’t bother me, but it would be interesting if they did branch off from the game and came up with new culprits and victims, perhaps making use of the drafted executions.
The only problem with using the drafted executions is that, because the list has already made rounds on the Internet, it would be another point of contention--the executions are meant to be shocking, and the sting could certainly be lessened if people already knew what was going to happen.
Another bit of food for thought is how the anime will translate certain features of the game, most specifically the Free Time periods. In between investigations, you’re able to meet up with the rest of the class--assuming they’re available--and hang out with them one-on-one.
One possibility is to weave the social links into the investigations themselves. One benefit of this is that it prevents the other characters from being relegated to complete absence during the investigations, or stuck in the background, rummaging around shelves and papers.
Another possibility is to feature social links as separate episodes between the investigations and trials, as a slice of life aspect. This would be a bit closer to the game and, depending on how long the investigations and trials last, might be the more attractive pacing option. For example, if an investigation fits into a single episode and the trial in another, then adding the social links to the investigation would delay the trial.
Either way, if the pacing is done correctly, it doesn’t matter to me where they put the social links.
I’m rather interested in watching this anime, so I’ll be on the lookout for more news and have a review prepped when it finally airs.


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Let's Read "Perfect Strangers"

Emotional Outlet


Last time we were introduced to roughly eight hundred characters at once at a sleepover. Let’s see what’s in store for us now.


Just to note, there are typos and, more commonly, skipped words in this because it’s never been edited. I won’t correct or point out typos/skipped words, since those are expected casualties in a first draft.








“You can’t really blame him,” replied a short-haired brunette. She smiled. “I have a little brother, and they aren’t so bad.”


“Liathita, he’s fifteen. My little brother is eight. There’s a difference.”


[Liathita is the only named character out of a group of seven girls. This means the other girls are nameless and faceless entities who may well be giant cats for all we know.]


“Whatever. Are we gonna play truth or dare or what?”


They began to play the game, each girl telling different stories about what they did with some boy, and the times they forged signatures, and of how they had crushes on teachers or on celebrities. It went on for a while, until someone had asked Liathita a rather unfortunate question.


[Telling has its place and, other than being phrased a little awkward, this is a good place to skim through the less interesting parts of the game.


I will point out characters “beginning to do” something is overdone and incorrect. Just make them do stuff, unless you intend to interrupt their action within the first few seconds.]


Someone had asked her whom she had a crush on.


It was clear she was uncomfortable. Until now, she had been very open and not afraid to answer even some of the more embarrassing questions. And here she sat, pillow in her lap, unable to provide the six other girls the name of the person that held their fancy. It was unusual for the girl, who was so well known for walking up to random strangers and introducing herself.


[Pronoun usage is important. Considering this is the second time young-me slipped in a “them/they” where it didn’t make sense, I clearly gave zero cares.


This is a spot where telling is less effective. If she’s so clearly uncomfortable, then it should show in her posture, behaviour, and actions.

That bit about her introducing herself to random strangers is also considered telling and cheats characterisation. Telling the audience a character is a certain way without demonstrating it is one of my biggest sins.]


“Can I have a different question?” she asked finally.


“Sure.” The girl paused, trying to think of a better question. “Ooh, well, are you straight, Lia?”


[This is clearly a set-up.]


Again, silence. Liathita, however outgoing she might be, was certainly rather shy about her sexual life. The girls sat, waiting for Liathita to answer a seemingly easy question. It would been obvious that had the teenager been straight, she would have answered promptly—this unsettling quiet had put off some of the more worried girls, thinking that if their suspicions about her were correct, they would have to leave the sleepover.


[This is a good example of how not to handle sensitive issues like burgeoning teenaged sexuality. This is a hamfisted way of doing so--it’s pretty clear young-me is about to set up most of the other girls as strawmen for Lia to knock down, in an effort to show how “enlightened” and “open-minded” she is.


In reality, it’s just young-me being overly didactic to an invisible audience.]




Check in next time to see how that setup proceeds!




Giving and Taking Feedback

Emotional Outlet


Whether it’s writing or martial arts, feedback is vital to your improvement. Being able to accept criticism gracefully is important.


On the flipside, being able express criticism in a straightforward but polite manner is also vital. Approach with only negatives and creators may feel torn down. Approach with only vague praise (“this is really good”) and creators may find your words ringing hollow.


Let’s start with giving feedback.


One of the popular feedback formats is a sandwich. Start off by saying what you liked, then get into the parts that weren’t as successful and add your suggestions. After that, leave off on a positive and encouraging note.





Try to be as precise as possible, for both positives and negatives. Vague comments like “I don’t like this” or “this was great” don’t really help the creator. “I think the lefthand side is too bright” or “your description of the house really helped established a creepy atmosphere” does help.


Avoid piggybacking on the criticism of others. It’s definitely okay to agree so the creator knows others have the same problem, but try to add something else, since it can easily look like dogpiling. It’s also okay to disagree, but remember the conversation is about the creator, not you.


Remember that not everyone has the same taste. You likely have some pet peeves that will colour your feedback, so it’s important to keep that in check. If the creator rejects your feedback, don’t let it get to you.

And finally, the most important thing: don’t be a jerk! Don’t condescend to the creator, and don’t act like if they don’t listen to you, they’ll never improve. Be aware of the way your words might come across to the creator. Be constructive, not destructive.


Let’s talk about taking feedback.


A lot of feedback is biased and based on personal experience. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can dismiss all critique you disagree with, because you may well be hindering your progress. It does mean you should learn to accept that not everyone will like your work, and that’s okay.


It’s easy to feel like a reviewer is attacking you when they critique your work, so it’s important to recognise the difference between a harsh review of your work and someone attacking you personally. If it helps, try not to respond to critique immediately. Read it and take a few hours, or even a day, to let your initial reaction pass so you can process it fully.


Try not to defend yourself! This may sound counter-intuitive, so hear me out. If someone thinks the graphic is too bright or one of your characters swears too much, don’t tell them, “Well, that’s just my style” or “Well, they swear so much because--” Take that as an opportunity to look back at your work and figure out why it’s not conveying the message or style you intended. This is where specific critique is especially useful, to help you pinpoint those problematic areas.


A final note for both feedback givers and receivers--if you don’t understand something or need clarification on anything, just ask! Try not to be defensive or offensive in your asking. Remember, feedback is supposed to be constructive, not destructive. That goes for both sides of the equation.





Emotional Outlet


A few years back, it was a novel idea to me that people would put Internet chat logs in their stories. It’s really not that outrageous, though, and if it’s done right, it can be a treat to read. There’s something conveyed in IM that isn’t quite the same as dialogue or narrative text, and if that’s something you want to convey in your story, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with the format.


There are a couple of things to watch out for and think about when choosing IM as a narrative vehicle.

You’ll want to consider whether IM is going to be your primary storytelling mode, something that’s injected in small doses into the narrative, or maybe even something that’s akin to flavour text between chapters, something that isn’t necessary but adds depth to the tale.


The issue of chatspeak is a major one. Almost everyone has their own way of communicating over IM. I, personally, tend to type properly in IM--with the exception of missing terminal punctuation. In a more relaxed environment, I forego capital letters and use the occasional acronym or abbreviation.


Some peolpe are lax with tpyos, others correct them vehemently. Some ppl litter their txts with acronyms & abbreviations, while others would never think of shortening “with” to “w/”. Some o3o decorate their texts with smilies :D or use ~@~ punctuation ~@~ and **symbols** to showcase their .oO[Personality].


This can easily appear juvenile and look more like my first attempts at humour in fan fiction than anything someone would willingly read. In small doses, these things can flavour a character’s text and make them easily identifiable.


Homestuck uses Pesterlogs, which are a sort of IM log, to convey the story. Each character has their own typing quirk, something that’s more evident with the trolls. Some characters replace letters with numbers, some use “bro” puns or cat puns, some use flowery and elegant language, some go on for ages and ages while others are terse.







This is the sort of thing you’d already consider with “regular” dialogue--syntax, diction, and pace--so it shouldn’t be too much of a leap to do it for something like IM.


You also have more flexibility in showcasing a character’s personality through IM. Someone who rarely makes typos and always types properly may come across as very proper, whereas the person who EMPHASISES random words with ALL CAPS might seem like they’re always on EDGE.


You can certainly “translate” the quirks into standard English, but you might be taking away something from the story in doing so, and it’s not just the lack of ~tildes~ everywhere. It can feel unnatural if everyone in a chat environment types properly, and you’d almost be negating the fact you were even using the IM format in the first place. (Unless this is something you intended to do purposely.)


Another thing to consider is the fact that you’d be dating your writing. Using any sort of slang can run the risk of rendering your work unreadable later on down the road, in the same way many of us struggled to understand Shakespeare in high school without footnotes.


Of course, the basic message likely won’t change, and readers should be able to understand what’s going on, even if they gloss over an acronym or two. After all,  if slang was such a deterrent, then no one would ever read, much less enjoy, books like A Clockwork Orange.


Don’t be afraid to try something new in your writing!


ttyl && glhf




Writing Resources

Emotional Outlet


Hopefully you’ll find something worth dropping into your bookmarks!






My primary resource. WW regularly posts Writer’s Blocks, a sort of writing prompt. It can be a picture, a song, or a sentence--all of these are meant to spark ideas and get the ball rolling. The blog also features a Writer’s Toolbox, which covers just about everything you can imagine.




This blog regularly posts character prompts, with things like Shipper Saturday and Antagonist Wednesday. It’s things like “If your ship could switch childhoods/upbringings, would either of them do it?” and “Which does your antagonist believe influences character more: nature or nurture?”


FYCD also posts writing tips, mostly related to character development, and features its own list of resources.

Office of Letters and Light


A blog run by the people who bring us NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNo, and the Young Writer’s Program. It regularly posts articles about writing, revising, publishing, and, of course, its programs like NaNoWriMo! This is a good blog to watch for any possible opportunities--like a chance to talk to professionals about your writing or win some free stuff.




Seventh Sanctum


SS features generators from things like character names, settings, equipment, and even goofy things like Fangirl and Fanboy fantasies. The generators can be set to show a certain number of results, but some can be tweaked even further to generate certain flavours of responses. Some can even generate responses of differing complexities.




This is the place to go if you need a number generator. You can also flip coins and roll dice here, in case you misplaced your lucky D6.




When you start getting up there in page and word count, managing your writing can be a hassle. You can separate scenes and chapter into separate documents, but you might lose or delete a document by accident. You might end up with six different versions of the same story and forget which one is the “real” one, and they’re all subtly different.


A program that allows you to break your work into manoeuvrable pieces into a single project is a godsend.





yWriter is one of the most recommended free writing programs. It features many organisational tools like character and setting sheets, a storyboard, and scene cards. yWriter also boasts the ability to automatically renumber chapters and has a progress tracker, something that’s a delight to look at after a day of writing.

This software is free, but you can register it for a price to help nudge the developer into adding more features--not to mention it also grants you a discount on other software on the site.


$45 Mac/$40 Windows


My personal choice in writing program. With a corkboard, a full screen writing mode where you can set a background image, and the ability to add keywords to your scenes and chapters, this program fits my style very well indeed.


It also has a research section, where you can put PDFs, pictures, videos, audio, and even entire webpages into a single project, to keep you focussed on your writing by avoiding the hassle of switching between multiple applications.


You can use as many or as few of its features as you wish with little to no ill effect.



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Gamers Corner



Far Cry 3


Far Cry 3 is the anticipated sequel to Far Cry 2 and it does not disappoint like a lot of sequels do. I meant to write about this title long ago, but I hadn’t finished it back then. Now I’ve played through it twice and loved every minute of each playthrough.


Far Cry 3 takes place on a group of fictional islands known as the Rook Islands, which are under control by the pirate Vaas and a slave trader named Hoyt. The player takes control of the young man Jason Brody, who, when skydiving with friends on the islands, is captured by pirates and taken prisoner along with several friends and his brother.






On his escape from the prison camp he sets out to free his friends and help a local warrior tribe known as the Rakyat to take the islands back from the pirates and Hoyt. Jason’s goals, then, are to reclaim the islands for the Rakyat and to escape the islands with his friends.


The game plays like Far Cry 2 in the form of a first-person shooter, but gameplay is a lot smoother than the previous title. The game has a large map full of dangerous enemies and animals, and it also boasts some rough terrain that can result in death if you aren’t careful.


While travelling the island you will come across almost every type of animal the game has to offer, and for the most part you will be forced to hunt these animals as their hides are used to make new equipment such as weapon slings to hold more weapons and ammunition pouches to hold more ammo of a certain type.


One thing to mention with this title that will please most is that the currency system has changed. In Far Cry 2, you were forced to hunt down cases of diamonds and whatnot. In Far Cry 3, they use a money system, meaning you can loot the dead for cash and items and then sell those items, or go hunting and sell the hides of the animals you kill.


The game boasts an array of weaponry, as did Far Cry 2, and all of these are quite good killing implements, with one of the signature weapons of the game being a compound bow that you can use to kill a wide array of enemies silently. Weapons in the title can now be equipped with attachments also.


Far Cry 3 also has a skill system, allowing you to perform certain forms of takedowns, move more swiftly while crouched, and move dead silently etc.


Far Cry 3 is a game I would recommend anyone to play and, although this is a review, I must admit I have barely said anything about the game as there is so much to do in it. You’ll just have to experience it all for yourself when you pick the game up, enjoy it!


Prototype 2


First, let me give credit to Prototype 1, which was a lovely game that I rather enjoyed. It was quite a new experience in gaming for me, being able to play as a character who absorbed others and used his own body as a weapon. I was rather impressed with Alex Mercer’s abilities and it’s become one of my favourite titles.


Now onto Prototype 2, which was released last year in April and gave us a new protagonist to play as in the form of James Heller. Heller is the complete opposite of Alex Mercer in many ways; he often spouts one liners or speaks in a rather crude fashion which always made me laugh because of his connections between eating and absorbing.


Prototype 2 takes place 14 months after the events of Prototype and has the protagonist returning home from war in the Middle East to find he’s lost his family to the virus that has almost taken over the entire city. Having lost everything, he then goes after Mercer, the man responsible.


Upon finding Alex Mercer the two battle it out. With Heller being no match for Mercer and his powers, Mercer infects Heller with the Blacklight virus, which changes his genetic makeup, and Heller is then taken by Black Watch to a lab.


I could go on with the story but I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone wanting to play the game so that is enough for now.






The game plays much the same as the first one with you gliding around the city and running along buildings while fighting the Black Watch soldiers and various forms of infected. Powers are more or less the same, but unfortunately they have limited the amount of attacks for each power. However, you can now have two equipped at the same time, although this doesn’t make up for the lack of attacks.


I enjoyed the gameplay, but at the same time I longed for it to be similar to Prototype in gameplay and other areas. I also preferred playing as Alex Mercer, who does play a big part in number 2, but has changed greatly and isn’t the character he was in the first one anymore.


Although it may sound like the game is a letdown, it really isn’t. If I have to give one bit of advice, it would be that, when you first put on the game, forget about the gameplay in Prototype, and remember that Heller isn’t Mercer. He is meant to be different, so don’t go in drawing on similarities and wondering if you’ll get all of Mercer’s abilities because it will lead to disappointment.




Sims 4 Unveiled

Emotional Outlet


After much speculation (pretty much as soon as The Sims 3 was revealed), Maxis has finally unveiled The Sims 4 earlier this month on the 6th. It’s slated to be released in 2014.






There isn’t a lot of information out just yet, but the announcement elicited a wide range of reactions from the fandom.


A few legacy players of the original Sims game lurk about, though I personally don’t travel those circles. If they’ve made this far, I’m not certain they would deign to move to TS4.


There is a sizable group of diehard Sims 2 fans who remain staunchly against the idea of “upgrading” to TS3, much less TS4. You can hardly blame them, considering how different gameplay is between the two games.


TS3 players are now beginning to understand what the TS2 players felt a few years back. Just as soon as they got settled into the game and got all the expansions they wanted, suddenly the game studio wants to switch their focus to a new game. Why can’t they just focus on one game and expand it forever? They’ve already spent so much money. They refuse to switch to TS4 unless the base game is as interesting as TS3 with all the expansions.


If you’ve been around the Sims community for a while, you’ll probably recognise that line of thinking has been around since the original Sims game. And you’ll recognise that the base game has always been rather lacklustre, ever since the very first Sims game.


It’s unfair to compare a base game against a fully expanded game, given the difference in development time. The Sims 2 base game was released in February of 2000. Its final expansion pack, Apartment Life, was released in August of 2008. That means for roughly eight years, the game has been patched and expanded.


And so the same is for TS3, with a base game released in June of 2009, nine expansions (and an additional two in the works), and eight stuff packs (and an additional one in development). TS4’s base game can’t compete with several years’ development and expansion.


Fandom aside, we do have some information on the new game. It’s slated to be a single-player offline experience, which definitely called for a collective sigh of relief, especially after the chaos that was the latest SimCity release.


Official information on the EA website claims the game will “giv[e] players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising and charming Sims ever” and it “encourages players to personalize their world with new and intuitive tools while offering them the ability to effortlessly share their creativity”.


It’ll definitely be interesting to see how custom content will be handled in this new game. TS3’s ability to colour and apply patterns to just about anything opened a creative venue that wasn’t available in-game for TS2.


Other than EA’s claim the game will allow us to peer into the inner depths of a Sim’s digital soul, there isn’t a whole lot of information out yet to really justify a solid reaction in either direction. And since it’s only May, EA has quite a bit of time to slowly release information to milk anticipation for all it’s worth--of course, that’s also ample opportunity for them to shoot themselves in the foot, so we’ll see where they lead us.




Sims Medieval

Emotional Outlet


I doubt anyone is in any danger of buying this fairly old game. Still, I thought I’d air some of my grievances.


The Sims Medieval is a standalone game, meaning it has little to do with the main numbered series other than sharing a name. It plays more like the Stories and console games, where you have quests and tasks to fulfill, so if you were hoping for a sandbox game but medieval themed, you might be disappointed.






That said, it isn’t quite an RPG either, though it certainly has RPG elements, like a levelling system for your Heroes. If you’re looking for a roleplaying game, you might want to look elsewhere.


There are various mini-games, like sword fights, surgery (done with the help of leeches, of course), and spelling slinging, which are all actually pretty fun, at least for the first few times. As you become proficient at smithing a legendary sword at 3x speed, there isn’t really a whole lot of challenge left.


You have overarching quests called Ambitions. It’s all stuff like “Complete this many quests at platinum level” and “Have a kingdom with this many Heroes at level 10”. Depending how well you complete the quest, you’ll achieve different levels, ranging from Bronze to Platinum, and unlock more Ambitions in addition to some clothing items and various furnishings.


It sounds great in theory. Except there’s only one kingdom layout. Every time you start a new Ambition, you have to start a whole new kingdom with all new Heroes (you can, however, port exactly one Hero to a new kingdom with a specific quest) and this new kingdom is exactly the same as the last one you made, right down to plant and ore locations.


Completing all of the Ambitions wouldn’t be such a tedious nightmare if there was at least two other layouts to pick from. It wouldn’t be so mind-numbing if you didn’t have to complete the exact same quests over and over again, albeit with different paths, for every single Ambition.


And the achievements? Which also unlock clothing and furnishing items? Those require even crazier levels of pointless grinding. Win 100 Swordfights. Acquire 1,000,000 Simoles. Train at the Training Dummy for 24 hours. This is awful even for someone like me, who will happily spend two hours straight picking flowers because why not. If you’re super into this kind of thing, you’ll probably like the bevy of achievements. Others will probably either completely ignore achievements or use a mod to mark them all complete in one go.


All the negatives aside, though, the game is beautiful. The art style of this game is way different from the Sims 3, and I actually prefer the look of this game over TS3. It’s also a pretty lightweight game that loads quickly, but that’s mostly because there isn’t very much at all to it.


The stories and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure aspect of the game is lighthearted and fun, with innuendo and wink-wink-nudge type nods to older audiences as can be expected of any Sims game. The humour and storytelling isn’t lacking, but it is repetitive.


All that said, the game is going for pretty cheap now, roughly $12 at Amazon at the time of writing. I’ve never played the expansion because I never quite fell in love with the game. Don’t get me wrong, though--it is fun and it is a great-looking game. It’s just that the absolute lack of variety totally kills it for me.



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Dumbing of Age

Emotional Outlet


“Dumbing of Age is a webcomic about college freshmen in a co-ed dorm at Indiana University, starring a Christian home-schooled girl [Joyce Brown] and her atheist best friend [sarah Clinton].” -- About DoA


The comic updates Monday through Friday, with Saturday updates for a year due to great success on its Kickstarter.


David Willis, the author of DoA, has also penned (in chronological order) Roomies!, It’s Walky!, Joyce and Walky!, and Shortpacked!. The lack of exclamation mark in DoA is indeed significant--while the other four are contained within the same universe known as the Walkyverse, DoA takes characters and certain elements from the Walkyverse and reboots them into an alternate reality.






Characters can read a little strange if you’ve read the comics from the Walkyverse, since they’ve had quite a few more years of development over their counterparts in DoA. Many commenters, despite several warnings issued by Willis, tend to draw upon their knowledge of the other comics and flood newer readers with irrelevant information.


DoA is a continuous story rather than a gag-a-day comic, so you’ll have to start at the beginning to really understand what’s going on. The comic has been running since September 2010, but the comic’s format (a single row of panels, reminiscent of newspaper comics) should make archive binging a relatively quick process.


Like the name suggests, it’s a coming of age story about people put in unfamiliar and occasionally frightening situations. As one might expect of a college comic, those situations can hit close to home for many readers. Willis doesn’t shy away from hot button issues or taking the plot into murky waters, but he does it in a respectful manner.


The art is cartoony and visually appealing, done in full colour with detailed backgrounds--not to mention that characters are given a full wardrobe, averting the limited wardrobe trope often seen in gag-a-day comics.


Willis’s years of experience as an artist and writer definitely show in DoA. The way he treats his characters and their various interactions with each other feels authentic, whether it’s innocent and rather wacky Joyce trying to connect with her snarky and antisocial roommate Sarah, or Mike “I did your mother for a nickel” Warner bringing his own brand of vitriolic truth down upon Ethan “I’m gay for Batman” Siegal. Each character is represented as an individual, with interests and intentions all their own.


There’s a storyline about Sarah’s previous roommate where, though it starts out like there’s a clear antagonist to jeer and a hero to cheer, interpreting its conclusion is really up to the readers. There are staunch supporters for both sides, because, like real life, almost everyone in that situation was acting based on incomplete knowledge and reacting based on their personal situations. It’s hard to completely fault either side.


Dumbing of Age really is a delight to read, with characters bouncing off each other in a believable manner, and few, if any, recurring characters relegated to a simple gag or strawman role. And while the story occasionally travels down dark paths, it does tend to come back out of it in a way that’s satisfying.



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Microsoft Changes Course on Windows 8



About six and a half months ago, Windows 8 hit the market like a train wreck. For those past six months, Microsoft, amid savage reviews and mass public rejection that would put opposing supermagnets to shame, has done nothing. Likewise, the users, having no incentive to change their opinion, have done nothing but complain for the past half year. However, Microsoft promises1 that this will all change with the release of Windows 8.1 (Blue) later this year. Quoted from the article, “Microsoft is preparing to reverse course over key elements of its Windows 8 operating system, marking one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola’s New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago”1.


Although Microsoft admits that Windows 8.1 will be tweaking some key features of Windows 8, it’s not true that Windows 8.1 is going to be a complete 180 turn-around for Microsoft’s design strategy. An article from ZDNet2 summarizes the points of the interview with Tami Reller in a more objective manner. From this, it is clear that Microsoft is acknowledging the flaws in the design and presentation of Windows 8 for the past six months, and is working to steer the project in a slightly different direction based on customer feedback. It will be interesting in the coming weeks to learn to just what degree Microsoft is planning to take Windows 8.1 off the original course.


The rumor mill is churning out its best garbage for the internet to read and debate over regarding Windows 8.1. However, all these articles are exactly like the articles described in the tongue-in-cheek article by Everything Sysadmin3 regarding Google Glass. Nobody will really know anything until the first preview is released in June, and even then most opinions will only be half baked. Only time will tell at this stage, but if Microsoft stays true to their promises, Windows 8.1 will hopefully be what Windows 8 should have been six months ago.


1 ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/330c8b8e-b66b-11e2-93ba-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2SxBQYlsi
2 zdnet.com/what-microsoft-is-now-saying-and-not-about-windows-blue-7000014960/
3 everythingsysadmin.com/2013/05/why-google-glass-is-so-importa.html




Flu Shot: Motherboards



Welcome to this issue’s Flu Shot.


This week we are going to discuss the road and foundation of your computer: the motherboard.


I know we think about the CPU chip, RAM, and the graphics card. We all know these have to match up with your motherboard.


However, what I am bringing up here is why the motherboard is so important.


First off, we need to clear up a few common mistakes.

  1. The motherboard does not have any real hidden agendas.
  2. The motherboard has its own unique set protocols.

The motherboard was not always inside the computer. The motherboard was designed by IBM.






A motherboard is a backplane, with the basic components needed to run most of the basic components of your computer. You will find, for instance, that most motherboards have a built in panel with mouse, keyboard, speakers, monitor, some USB plug-ins, and the like.


This means that the motherboard is not so much the driving force behind your computer, which is the CPU, but is more so the road map and the limiter on the gear.


Like a backplane, which in many ways is the motherboard’s predecessor, this merely has electronic roadways mapped out, with various kinds of connectors. The limiter is the design and recognition that the board knows.


Why should I care so much about which kind of pathways, connectors, etc. that my board has?


What a confounded-looking question. The electronic world is constantly changing. So if the connectors are something that are about to go out of use, finding upgrades to your computer will be far more difficult.


I have personally tried to use motherboards with a large variety of option for all the connectors. The biggest thing to make sure of is that the CPU, RAM, hard drive, disc drives, and graphics card are all recognized by the motherboard.


What else does my motherboard do?


It keeps the basic settings for your computer. That optional loading screen when you start your computer? The options it gives you and saves? Those are all things stored on the motherboard.


While the Motherboard may seem less useful than other components, without the motherboard nothing else would run. Those little lines are the “bus-ways” to all the electronic devices on the motherboard.


Should I keep anything in mind while shopping for a motherboard?


A few key things. Make sure the board will fit in the case-drilled holes for the motherboard, unless you are hand building the case. Also check to see what cards the case is compatible with. These are the two biggest things to double check when purchasing a motherboard.


This has been your Flu Shot.



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I must agree with you Sims 4 article.  I've been on TS3 since its release (In fact, I had the game the day b4 my computer arrived) and have gotten all its expansions.  I played TS2 for awhile because I had to get another new computer that...wasn't quite as good...and TS2 was the only one it would play well.  I love it but I hate the lacking design features that TS3 provides.  I love the designing part the most.  Anyways, I had heard the rumors of a TS4 since short after TS3's release, like you said.  Since these years of being with TS3...I have no interest in a TS4.  I get everything I could possible want from TS3.  What could be so great about the TS4?  Better graphics?  Game play?  Honestly, I am too satisfied with TS3 to make the switch.

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"Other than EA’s claim the game will allow us to peer into the inner depths of a Sim’s digital soul, there isn’t a whole lot of information out yet to really justify a solid reaction in either direction."


I don't really have an opinion on Sims 4, haha. Like that is basically my opinion right now.


I don't think of the numbered Sims games as direct upgrades--while they (barely) share similar storylines, all three of the games play quite differently. The original Sims and Sims 2 are probably the closest in gameplay mechanics, and I'm pretty much basing that on the fact that the games actually encourage you to switch households and play with different families. TS3 doesn't much like you to switch families and it bloats your save file if you switch too much, very likely leading it down the path of corruption.


So I figure TS4 will play quite differently from the other three, and that's reason enough for me to at least wait and see what they got in store before deciding whether I hate it or not, haha.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Aricle Formatting: Ha I'll admit that I happen to double space things.  That's how my mom showed me how to write papers way back when.  Twitter though definitly needs one space to conserve space.


Angel Beats: Meh I wasn't a big fan of this anime.  I felt that the passing was way too fast and they tried to cram everything into the short amount of time they had.  Would have been better as a 24 episode or something.


Let's Read "Perfect Strangers": “Sure.” The girl paused, trying to think of a bet-ter question. “Ooh, well, are you straight, Lia?”  Lol I totally saw this coming. :P


Giving and Taking Feedback: Yes that tomato is definitly negative. No me gusta tomatos.


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


Far Cry 3: Yeah I'll definilty get this game in a couple of years once it hits 75% off on Steam and such.


Sims 4: We'll definitly hear about the game during E3 that's for sure.  Let's hope they learned from their SimCity mistakes.


Windows 8: Microsoft you're going to have to take Windows 7 from my cool dead hands. (◉◞౪◟◉)

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Tomatoes are awful, I always take them off my burgers. I also don't like cheese, but when I order burgers with no cheese AND no tomato, they tend to get confused, so I just order no cheese and then take the tomato off myself.


I mean it's okay if people put two spaces after their sentences, it just save me, personally, the effort of having to do a replace on all of the spaces. I was a staunch two-space person myself and then after reading that it's becoming more and more standard, not to mention it's helpful for people with reading issues like dyslexia, I made the switch pretty quick. It's not especially difficult either, haha.


And yeah, the setup on that was so far from subtle, a stampede of cows would have been more mysterious.

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