Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Nintendo Switch: The Games We Know So Far [Gaming]


So as we get ever closer to that conference on the 13th of January, it's time for a look at those games we know are coming. Many rumours have been circulating about specifications and such, and how it might fare in competition with the other consoles, but this is just to focus on the games we know are confirmed.

I was surprised and excited to note that Warner announced LEGO City Undercover to no longer be a Wii U exclusive. As well as PC, Xbox One, and PS4, it is also coming to the Nintendo Switch. How it'll hold up I can't exactly say, but I would like to think that transfer to other consoles allows for the load times to be drastically reduced. The map on the Gamepad screen would have to be added to a proper map screen with the usual radar placed on the HUD. I can't really think of other things they could do unless they were to drastically alter some parts of the game.
For instance, most other LEGO games allow local two player co-op. This game didn't. It's not that bad of a thing, as special suits were able to substitute for lack of co-op, but it still wasn't as good as having a group of team members. I get that the Undercover part of the name sort of implies only one person, and the game was developed as a more kid-friendly Grand Theft Auto [which only allow for one player, at least until GTAV came along]. However, at least in the hub world, co-op could be a thing in special missions that allow players to work together to overcome a goal. It's a big stretch, and I don't think they would go that far, but it's just something to add additional content to it.

We've known for quite some time that Dragon Quest X and XI were coming to the Switch. While my experience with the series up until recently was only a small play session on Heroes: Rocket Slime for the DS, it's been a series I've partially followed since that time. Recently I bought Dragon Quest VII on 3DS, and the experience has been good so far, so with the entirely new version, I'm sure I'll be getting a much greater experience. Now, Dragon Quest X more than likely won't make it outside of Japan, so that leaves XI. Now we don't know much about it, except it's also being made for PS4 and the 3DS. The PS4 version is being made in Unreal Engine 4 with HD graphics. Whether the same can be said for the Switch version, only time will tell. The traditional battle system is in place, so the turn-based battles are still a thing. While I haven't got very far with Dragon Quest VII, I have been liking what the story offers, and from what I've read of the series - and know from RPG's in general - a good story is usually key. The advertising for XI will probably start at the Switch event, and it's there we will most likely see what the story offers.

Two of my core franchises already have games announced for the Switch, though we don't know too much about either. The Pokémon game has only been mentioned as coming, not in any specifics. However, Sun and Moon have recently released on 3DS, and a lot of rumours point to a third version coming to the Switch. The fact that walking animations for all Pokémon were found in the game files, the bottom screen hardly having much use this time around, and the fact it seems the start of a generation with a new console around the corner makes for an interesting set of circumstances. This seventh generation of games could of course come and go in a year, but that seems very unlikely. As I mentioned in my previous Switch post, if Game Freak are planning a full 3D adventure in the style of Colosseum and Gale of Darkness, then those two games could be put on a Gamecube Virtual Console. Though of course, a full game like that probably won't be a main series title they changed it up a bit. Adding proper grass patches and proper routes would be a start, and it seems Sun and Moon are the start with experimenting with that - considering the grid system has gone. Whatever game it is they're cooking up on Switch, I hope it is a main series title. And if it is, it certainly won't be coming at launch.

The other of my core franchises is, of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. Project Sonic 2017 was revealed at the same time as Sonic Mania, and unless there's been a switch in plans and Mania also comes along, Project 2017 will be the first Sonic game on the Switch - probably in the same month as Pokémon Switch. From what we know, Project 2017 is going to be like Unleashed with its story but Generations with its gameplay. We know Classic Sonic is returning from the trailer, which is why I said like Generations from a gameplay standpoint. It also looks to be going for the serious yet light tone that Unleashed presented. I found Generations to be one of the better games in terms of gameplay, though not so much story, so a fuller story - even if not much in terms of complexity - should be good with the gameplay to back it up to make one of the better Sonic games of recent times.
I'm sure many people wouldn't mind some tweaks to the gameplay though. Many have said Sonic feels like a car to control, so loosening up the control of Sonic wouldn't be too bad. Making sure the boost wasn't as easy to gain would make a bit more of a challenge. Not so much on Colours' level, but not so much that every thing you do gains some boost energy. As for Classic Sonic, make his control a bit more like the classic games. Add proper rolling physics and tone the spin dash down a bit so it isn't as powerful as in Generations. And a last thing to add, we have Classic for 2D gameplay. Do not fuse 2D and 3D elements into Modern's levels again. Yes, it works. But as well as 2D gameplay for this game, there's also a full 2D game in Mania releasing the same year. While the gameplay on both should be great, I'd still prefer a full 2D and full 3D game.

A number of smaller games have also been confirmed for the Switch. First off being Stardew Valley. A well known game on other platforms, it's inspired by Harvest Moon. Heavily taking elements from the series, Stardew is also a farming simulator. It is more inspired by the original games in the series while still being its own thing. It's a popular game on Steam, and coming to the Switch will bring it to a portable system for the first time.
Cube Life: Island Survival is a Wii U game released in June 2015, following in the footsteps of other Minecraft clones that appeared on the system when it looked uncertain if Minecraft would make it to the Wii U. Cube Life proved popular, so now is getting ported to the Switch and PS4. It doesn't appear as though anything is changing between consoles, so this is purely for those who don't own the Wii U version.
While I'm not going to cover all the smaller games coming to the Switch, one of note is Constructor. A remake of the original game from way back in 1997, the game is a management simulation game where you build facilities to gain manufacturing materials which you then put towards buildings. The rent tenants pay for occupying these buildings then helps to fund the company, with the aim to put other companies out of business.

Lastly, I want to again mention The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The gameplay has been looking great, and from the small snippet we got to see of the Switch version in action on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, it looked to be running very smooth. As I've said before, this is probably one of the first Legend of Zelda titles I will get on launch, as it looks a very interesting design. Rumours of delays might mean this misses launch.

We are two weeks away from the Switch Presentation, and for those in the UK that means 04:00 of the 13th. As such, most will probably miss the presentation itself but be able to catch up on the news later that day. It will certainly be interesting to see what the console is actually made of, and what games we get at launch. As I said in my last Switch post, I'm hoping for a Star Wars game to be announced, as that will then be all three of my cores catered for. Either way, that's all for now, so bye for now.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [Review]



I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, and as spoiler free as possible. The story presented in Rogue One is as we've known for a long time. The Death Star plans are stolen. But the journey it takes to get there is an interesting one, with plenty of scenes that make you feel for these characters. Most of them get developed very well across the story.


The story itself feels more down to earth - more gritty - than any before. We have here the good guys working their way to get the plans, and the villains trying to prevent that from happening once they realise what the rebels are up to. However, there are underlying elements of trust from both sides. The characters question each other, they try to up their own personal status, and in the case of Krennic... Well, let's just say the film does a good explanation as to why he isn't in charge come A New Hope. Within the story is a very great sense of high stakes being presented for the rebels, and one particular scene at the end is something never seen in Star Wars to date. In fact, make that two things, as I don't recall ever seeing a cruiser pushing another cruiser into yet another cruiser. And yes, that final battle is just all kinds of wow.

The effects and camera work are all really well executed to make the audience feel closer to the action. Especially with some of the camera placements during the space battle. The worlds themselves are unique from one another, and each presents different architecture and other design to make them stand out from one another. When it comes to explosions, there are some really good ones here. And the Death Star blasts - even with it only firing low powered beams - are stunning. The Battle of Scarif also has numerous effects that worked well for the environment, such as blasts from the water and exploding trees.

There are numerous references to other Star Wars media. Some being the obvious, such as Mon Mothma in the base on Yavin IV, others being blink-and-miss, such as the Ghost [from the Rebels animated series] being present in the final battle, and a very unsubtle showing of how the position of Red 5 opened up for Luke. I'm sure this will press into spoiler territory, but the film also sets up nicely how Rogue Squadron came to be.

From the opening to the end I was enjoying watching this film. The use of music is sometimes powerful, sometimes flat, and I'm pretty sure during the final battle I heard hints of the Death Star battle from A New Hope. Without going into much more detail for fear of spoilers, there is a very real feeling of despair throughout most of the film, with hope trying to break through. You end up rooting for the rebels come the Scarif battle, and hope everything goes well for them. And though characters do some questionable things, it adds rather than takes away from the film as a whole. The film itself in a way is set up to allow those things to happen.

So to round off, this is the most mature and realistic Star Wars to date, with great action, great character building, and a wondrous sense of scale throughout. I'd definitely say it is a must-watch film. I've heard it said elsewhere, and I'm in agreement, but this film is better than The Force Awakens. The freshness of it, while still being in a much-loved era, makes it a great watch. The Force Awakens was reversed. A new era, but following familiar ground. Thank the circle theory for that. Both are great films, giving new perspectives on old ground, let's just say. Out of the two though, Rogue One wins out.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Dealing Every Card [Cyber Digital Services]


December here at last, and with it brings Rogue One. Just as with The Force Awakens, I'll be watching it near my birthday. Unlike with The Force Awakens, I'll actually be getting a review done near the time I watch it.
Updates to Crossover Corruption and Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles never happened during November as it's that time within a university semester when most of the work gets done. They will definitely be updated this month.

As I said last month, I have a new monthly series planned. This month it starts, and I can announce it now. Looking back through my posts, it has been quite some time since I put focus on some TV and Film posts. Yes, there was The Force Awakens review, and the Rogue One review this month, but unlike early on with this blog there has been no real focus in that area. So, that's where this monthly series comes in. And rather than put the focus into one of my cores, I'm going to focus on a TV series that will give content throughout 2017. That being Power Rangers.
Bit of personal history regarding this series - I was never an active watcher. The only series I caught in their original runs were Dino Thunder and SPD, and that wasn't even all episodes. However, in 2013 when I first subscribed to Amazon Prime, I saw all the series were available to watch. Going back to watch the two was great. A year later I did the same thing again, though this time carried on through the series, ending up with Super Megaforce. I definitely felt a connection to the series. Now, I'm starting from the very beginning, and this time I'll be giving my thoughts on all of them.

Also this month on the blog will be another Nintendo Switch article, this time dealing with all games confirmed for the system. There might also be one or two posts going into detail with some of the ideas I presented in the last Switch post.
With GTA on Youtube, the posted video is not the one I was originally going to post. The one I'm posting is actually two, and both are from the Rockstar Editor. And I waited for December as one of them is from New Year's Day last year - when the map was covered in snow.

There's the chance for one or two other things depending on certain circumstances, and the latest SONM Weekly Super Highlight Reel is awaiting upload to the SONM Network Youtube channel. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Nintendo Switch: Ideas of Games From Me [Gaming]

 
The Nintendo Switch was announced last month, and between now and January when the full information reveal is set to be, I'll be covering some things here. As mentioned in the monthly update, this month is games I would like to see.

The first is a game I have an idea of, though changes every so often. It expands on what Wii Sports Resort gave us, including numerous other ideas within that. I am talking about Mii Resort Paradise, in which I gave numerous ideas for in a post way back in March 2015. Look on it if you want to gain some idea behind the thoughts to it, but I'll be covering some of that stuff here.
Wuhu Island would be open to exploration, and numerous sports would be included. After all, there's a tennis court, a bowling alley, a lot of water, and a separate island for golf. Then there's all the other sports from Wii Sports Resort such as skydiving and sword fighting. All of these would be brought into one hub - the island. That's not to dismiss quick access for when you want to just get into a game. And just because it starts with sports, don't think it has to be locked to sports. Numerous other things could be open on the island. It might be just one island, but an RPG of sorts would give something extra to the game. The Alola region of Pokémon Sun and Moon is made up of islands, and each one is within the size of Wuhu Island. Of course, no RPG is complete without a story, and for that there are many to choose from, whether simple or a bit more complex.
As I said, it would start with sports as the main package, but whether through free or paid download content, could be added upon a huge amount. And the hotel of the island would serve as the access to all of this. Quick access to sports, loading up a new adventure, jumping online, etc., would all be done through the hotel. There'll be stuff for the collectors as well, since you need the best equipment to play better and you also need a good look. I'm unsure whether it might be going overboard to include room decoration within that, especially since your room will be the last place you'll spent most of your time within the game. Everything will also have that Nintendo charm that comes within their range of characters, especially Mii's.

Mario Kart is Nintendo's flagship racing series, and these days seems to be expanding into other Nintendo franchises. It'll be a while yet before we get onto the level of Super Smash Bros. for franchise representation, but for now the smattering of crossover content has gone well. And now it seems Mario Kart 8 is coming to the Switch with new features added. DLC Packs 3 and 4 are more than likely, but I want something more. Something a bit more... technical. 200cc mode was added when DLC Pack 2 hit the Wii U version, and with the hints within the Mario Kart 8 footage from the Switch reveal trailer, I'm hoping for something the same.
Allow me for a moment to talk about Double Dash. In that game, we had tighter steering, a more looser handling system, and items could not be held behind you at all. There was also two characters, and with that came two items. Getting the comparison yet? What I'm saying is that while you can't necessarily have two characters to a kart with all the air-gliding, underwater driving, and anti-grav, the main other element can still be taken from it, as well as putting a new spin on the handling physics to make a new mode. That is, of course, one way to interpret the hints.
The other way is to say "Why not take what Double Dash is and upgrade it to fit the modern age?" Rather than being called Double Dash 2, it would take the old naming system of including the name of the console within the game's name. So Mario Kart Switch Dash. I'm not going too far into this, but it would feature many of the characters introduced to the series since Double Dash. The new items would stay, as would the new features - reworked to fit within the two-to-a-kart gameplay. Most stuff can be reworked to fit into how Double Dash worked. While that would be interesting to see, there's also something else I'd much rather see.

The Gamecube had some excellent games during its run of the market, but these days are becoming increasingly difficult to come across for a decent price. Enabling a Gamecube Virtual Console on the Switch would enable many to experience those games. I do understand that emulators take some working on to get right, but considering Microsoft have Xbox 360 games emulated on the Xbox One, and PS2 games are right at home on PS4, I don't see any reason why Gamecube cannot come to the Switch, especially as there seems to be quite a lot of grunt behind it this time. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one had been worked on by Nintendo for the Wii U but like with most other major projects got moved over to the Switch. It would certainly explain the Gamecube controller adapter which then never got used for anything other than Smash 4. Kirby's Air Ride and F-Zero GX are two games I would love to get my hands on, and if Game Freak are planning a Pokémon game in the style of Colosseum and Gale of Darkness for the Switch it would make a bit of sense to put those two games on the Switch so people can get an idea of what could be a part of the new one.
And talking of retro games, I'd much rather have a much better option of playing them than buying individually. Inspired in a way by EA Access, this service would allow people to play retro games while at the same time getting early access to new games for a small amount each month [or a slightly discounted yearly fee].

Talking of EA, they are talking about putting a big game on the Switch. While most would expect a sports title or Mass Effect, I'm thinking about something else. Star Wars. The Wii U missed out on one of the biggest Star Wars video game releases in ages - Star Wars Battlefront. In fact, the Wii U pretty much missed out on any Star Wars games. The Wii got both Force Unleashed games, as well as two The Clone Wars games. Now admittedly, that is more to do with the state of the Star Wars gaming scene at the moment, but now that numerous projects are on the go from EA, at least one of them should be coming to the Switch. None of them will be ready for the launch, unless they've been very quiet on that front. Now yes, we did get LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the Wii U, so that should count for something. As for the game on the Switch I'd want, I'd like to at least think one of the cancelled projects is getting revived in some way, though 1313 might be a bit too similar to the game Visceral is working on. With more than a year between the two, it might be possible though. And wouldn't it be great if a Star Wars game got released as close to the fortieth anniversary as possible?

Games that I've mentioned thus far are definitely ones I'd buy. I'd also buy a new Animal Crossing game, and considering the main series skipped the Wii U - as well the portability of the Switch - it seems very logical to assume a new main Animal Crossing game is headed for the Switch. I'd hope as close to launch as possible, though any time within 2017 would be fair game. If it can expand upon what New Leaf gave us, and fix certain issues with Personal Works Projects, than that will be good. The idea that the town was growing and more shops opened over time worked well, but they felt a bit cramped within that street. Allowing all of that back into the town, or having a separate area that you would own that serves as an urban location, would help with the space issues and finally break the barrier that the series has been trying to and allow greater customisation of our towns. Rather than have us move to a new town that's struggling, we are instead prospecting for a place to start a new town - with the help of Isabelle, of course. In a slight change, the rural part of town no longer has a beach. That's for the urban area. We place where our house and the town hall will be in the rural area, and get our first two shops opened in the urban area. We can place areas for residents to build their houses when they move to the town. The idea behind this is expanding the mayor role of our character by starting the town, not just picking up where the last one left off. And by expanding the town into rural and urban parts, it allows for a lot more space overall. I'll see about going into quite a bit more detail about this later down the line, as I find this concept would be interesting. It gives a greater goal while still retaining the relaxed pacing the series is known for. While there's a lot more stuff to build up, in no way would it need to be done all at once.

I'm rather unsure about suggesting this next one, as it is a series that has different representation on both handheld and home console. It is the Wars series. On home console, it has taken real-time strategy and crafted Battalion Wars. For handhelds it takes turn-based strategy and crafts Advance Wars. Both have skipped over this current generation, so it could be time to bring the series back. While it certainly wouldn't be necessary to do so, it would be interesting to see Advance Wars styled like a Battalion Wars game, while keeping all the turn-based strategic gameplay intact. It would need to at least overhaul how it is presented - whether using more detailed sprites or going for a new art style. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin went for a darker tone to its story, but I feel the one thing that the Wars series has done well was keep a light-hearted tone despite the war setting. Even Battalion Wars, with its brighter colours, didn't feel like a real war, despite the real-time gameplay. I'd be more willing to accept a new Battalion Wars first, but Advance Wars has always felt the stronger of the two. Intelligent Systems always do a good job on the games, and also with the Fire Emblem series. And since the DS had no Fire Emblem games, it only made sense to have a series that could fill the gap. With Fire Emblem getting two games on 3DS, now seems like a great time to have an Advance Wars game.

Quite a few ideas have been covered, and most of them will be expanded on in other posts. Mario Kart will be talked about in the next Switch post, which will talk about games that have been confirmed, and I'll definitely be expanding upon that Animal Crossing idea. Of course, Star Wars as a whole is going to get mentioned a lot next year, so video games will be a part of that. Any new game that gets shown at Celebration Orlando I'll be sure to talk about. Well, I'll be covering the whole event with pre- and post- show blog updates. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Friday, 11 November 2016

What I'm Waiting For - Volume 5 [Gaming]


It seems to be a recurring thing that these happen at the first and last thirds of the year. Since the last one, a lot has been happening in the gaming world. Forza Horizon 3 has been released, and I've had a blast playing it. The Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro, and Xbox Scorpio have all been announced. There's also been a lot more throughout the year. But this isn't a recap of the year in gaming, this is What I'm Waiting For, and we'll start with a recap of what was discussed last time.
It's odd, in a way. Usually when I do one of these the game I mentioned in the previous one have been released. As it is, the games I mentioned last time, are all but weeks from release. Planet Coaster has been in beta for two days now, with the full game set to release on the 17th. While I haven't played the beta, I have enjoyed what I have seen for the game, and am looking forward to getting my hands on it.
Pokémon has Sun and Moon releasing on the 23rd for Europeans, and throughout the year info dumps have been happening that have revealed quite a bit about the game without giving too much away.
Pokemon Sun and Moon almost upon us. There's also been the Special Demo, like what we got with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, so I've at least been able to experience a bit of what the game is like for myself. And I have to say, it has been good.
Sonic the Hedgehog got both Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 announced, and we've seen a small amount of Mania since. I've already said I'll be going into detail about these elsewhere, so that's all I'm saying about them.

As for the games that this volume of What I'm Waiting For is covering, the first is one that might just be the Nintendo Wii U's swan song. If it doesn't get overlooked by the Nintendo Switch version, that is. It is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A whole day dedicated to it for Nintendo's E3, and a lot more information since, this game is looking like it's a big departure from previous games while still keeping familiar pieces. The game seems more like an RPG, in that you're scavenging for items and weapons to stay alive. Sure, the dungeons and puzzle elements still remain - and they look as good as ever - but there's the feeling that this game is straying from series conventions while at the same time going back to the series roots. The original games certainly had the feeling of discovery - the non-linearity, shall we say - that newer games seemed to lose when bringing in more complex stories. That's not to say having a good story is bad, but having a good story embedded into the world for you to discover does have its merits. And the world is something interesting. It was said during all the time at E3 that the area of focus was just one. There was a lot in just that one area, and if more areas are as diverse, it's going to be one great adventure waiting to explore. While I haven't been looking out for information since E3, I have been keeping the game on my radar. One thing to consider is this. It was confirmed for Wii U, then announced for the Switch some time later. So which version to get? The obvious choice would be the Wii U version, since the game was originally being built for that system. You also have to factor in the Switch, and how much use the Wii U might get if some of its best games get ported or get new entries at launch. And if it has some awesome new games that make buying one in the first place an easy choice.

The other game I'm putting here is Yooka-Laylee. While I didn't pay it much attention at first, I find myself thinking about exploring other games outside of the series I know. In the last month I've branched out with RPG's and bought myself Dragon Quest VII, so Yooka-Laylee is answering the need to branch out with 3D platformers. It certainly looks like an interesting game, and since Playtonic Games have former Rare employees within their fold, it should be a grand adventure of being back in the early 2000's - when 3D platformers were all the rage. Of course, this is a modern take of such a genre, so it should be interesting to see what new things have been added. The latest trailer looked good, and the world itself looked diverse. The characters are also a great bunch. The main two - Yooka and Laylee - are based off a chameleon and a bat, two of my favourite animals, and have a very cartoony design. The whole game is a cartoony style, which fits with the platformer design. Not counting Mario or Sonic, it has been quite an age since I last played a 3D platformer. At some point I considered buying Rare Replay to be able to play some of those Rare developed games that a lot of people highly recommend. Upon seeing Yooka-Laylee, I decided against that to get this instead. Once it releases first quarter next year. And since it has been quite an age since I last played a 3D platformer, I don't really have any expectations to set this up against, other than the fact I hope it turns out a lot better than Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric [though from what I have read, that wasn't entirely Big Red Button's fault].

It sure has been an interesting What I'm Waiting For, this. Writing a recap about two games I haven't even played yet, with two new games that in some way I am unfamiliar with, both of which will be releasing first quarter of next year. Next up in terms of posts will be that one where I'm talking about games I'd like - and those that could come - on the Switch. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Animal Crossing Direct [Gaming]


Yesterday I mentioned the Animal Crossing Direct in the monthly update, and now it has aired, I'm here with a post. This will be short and sweet, just like the Direct itself.

The Direct took place on the set of a campsite. A campsite that features within the game itself, with producer Hisashi Nogami taking the role of Harvey - the guy who owns the campsite. This campsite is where visitors come once you have scanned their amiibo or amiibo card with Wisp, who is summoned from a magic lamp. A new currency is available, called MEOW coupons, allow you to buy new items at the campsite. And these are new items. A wealth of them were shown off, including a car and some sweet Splatoon gear. The Legend of Zelda also gets some representation in the game, with new items and gear - including Link's outfit from Breath of the Wild. Splatoon and Zelda are also represented with special villagers as well. All of this is interesting stuff for those that have the required amiibo to use, and with the ability to get villagers to move in by visiting them in their RV's - much like the tent space already in the game, I'm sure those people will be happy. And for those that want access to the special characters, it may or may not get them to buy some amiibo. Of course, there are a lot of uses for the Legend of Zelda related amiibo in the series' own games, so this is just one extra incentive. There's also a neat amiibo Camera feature added into the game, so pictures can be taken with your favourite villagers in the real world.

Away from amiibo, video game consoles have been added to the game as items. Unlike in the Gamecube version though, there aren't a selection of games to buy. Just one locked to each console. Those that own or have played amiibo Festival on Wii U might remember the Desert Island Escape game. In it, you had to move around an island in a grid-based system, trying to find items to help your villagers survive while ultimately trying to build a raft to escape. The Wii U console item now allows this to be played within New Leaf. The 3DS item allows an Animal Crossing version of Puzzle League to be played within the game. They will be a part of the fortune cookie items from the Nookling's shop. However, those owning Animal Crossing amiibo figures can use them to greatly increase the chances of receiving both items. amiibo are still required to play the Desert Island Escape game as far as I'm aware.
Other little things to make life easier have been added. If you find yourself with a massive amount of items [for instance my town has numerous items scattered across it that I haven't wanted to get rid of but could no longer store] there is now a storeroom you can add more items to. Those that have played Happy Home Designer will be familiar with the way decorating takes place in that game, and that system has now been brought over into this game. If you want to restart your town, Tom Nook will now assess the value of it, and you'll be able to start with the funds of that assessment within your new character's bell account in the new town. I personally would have wanted a way to keep certain cherished items and designs, but you can't have everything just transferred over. New town, new beginnings and all that.
On Tortimer Island, a turn chat off option has been added, as well as a quick return option. No need to talk to someone to return back to the mainland saves quite a few seconds, especially if you'll just be returning after you'll sold everything.

So when is all of this available, you might ask. And the answer is right now. At the start of the Direct, they said the update is live. All of this in the update is now available. Yes, there might be a few things I have missed off as well. I've covered the important stuff, and so get updating the game and get exploring the new stuff. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Natural Open Void [Cyber Digital Services]


So with the Nintendo Switch announced at last, I gave my thoughts on the reveal. And with no new information coming from Nintendo until January, I feel this could be the perfect time to offer some ideas into games that could come for the system. One of which is something I've said would have been perfect for the Wii U, but with development now entirely on the Switch, it will have to do. I won't cover too much on games we know are coming, since I plan to cover those elsewhere.
The Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles Look Back, Look Ahead posts are now finished, which opens up the way for other blog posts. I don't have a series as yet, but I'm putting planning into one throughout this month. It'll go live next month.
I've been toying around with doing another What I'm Waiting For post, though I feel this one wouldn't leave me much choice at the minute. Since I want to cover all that Sonic the Hedgehog in 2017 has to offer separately, I'd have to consider my options.

Elsewhere, work on university projects is coming about nicely. Since it is my last year, focus is put onto a final major project, and over the next two months as development continues on the pre-production I expect I'll have some of it to share.
Now I said in September's update that I would have something on the horizon for the beginning of October for the SONM Youtube channel that I contribute to. That ended up being the end of the month, but I'm glad I held out. SONM recently started up a weekly Mario Kart 8 tournament of sorts, just for fun. I've been taking part, and for the second week - which had a Halloween theme - I made sure to save all sixteen races to the in-game Mario Kart TV station [first four in favourites, the rest auto-saved as recent races]. All of those were then uploaded to my MKTV Youtube channel without music, downloaded from there, and cut up even more to make one super highlight reel of all the action. This has the possibility of continuing, should I remember to save the highlights again.
For other videos, I haven't forgotten about GTA Online. I won't be featuring any stunt races of my own this time, but there certainly will still be a video this month.

The last thing I want to mention is the fact Nintendo have a Direct coming up, focused entirely on Animal Crossing. There's an update coming soon for New Leaf on the 3DS, and this Direct will tell us all about it. Japan also have another game on focus - that being Miitopia. While I won't be watching the Japanese Direct, I'll certainly be keeping a look out for any information on this new game. If I feel there's enough to cover, I certainly will.
Either way, that's all for now, so bye for now.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles - Look Back, Look Ahead Part 4 [Cyber Digital Services]






This is the final part. The future. With Episode 13 having now been posted to WattPad, it's easy enough to recap here. Qiilura over, the mission to Forsaad can now take place. The idea was to put DarkRula on the spot, and force his hand in being cut off from the Jedi. It was also a way to introduce two sisters we'll be seeing more of later. Lei'sa and So'lei are Twi'lek bounty hunters who are able to use the Force. They aren't Jedi, so they've had to teach themselves to use those powers. These two have taken the Federation up on their bounty, and with their help storms the Jedi base on Forsaad. The intention is to get the location of the Jedi main base - Ilum. This is all part of the war between the Jedi and the Federation of which both sides have been avoiding discussing with DarkRula. While I can't say the details - they will come at the end of this series - I can say that it will cause DarkRula to do something he has been holding back on doing.

So, with DarkRula and The Doctor performing upgrades to all the equipment and droids on The Ark, they are out of the action for the time being. Which gives us time to catch up on what the Daleks have been doing. When we left them last, Dalek Rizon had forced Thalos into a lesser role with himself the new leader of Tatooine. Dalek Zane and Volk had stormed Cyrillia with the help of the Mandalorians to capture the human to droid technology. We will see the outcome of this, as the Daleks make plans to increase their strength by adding to their numbers. Once they can work out all the problems with it. All of the Daleks are therefore on Tatooine, along with the Mandalorians. Since the TARDIS malfunctions again, DarkRula never knows this. All he knows is that a third Dalek leader has been on the planet, and at the end of Hide and Seek has rejoined the others. Hide and Seek will also be going deeper into some of the events from the audio episode.

Before DarkRula and The Doctor part ways until Endor, The Doctor makes a request. He wants to know what happened before he arrived. Where the Daleks arrived and what they did during DarkRula's first encounter with them. A journey with the two in the Scimitar follows, with the exact same journey taken as Kronis and DarkRula had taken those many weeks ago. Coruscant, Fresia, Byss and Empress Teta are all visited, with DarkRula explaining the action that happened at each place. I'm not just going to stay in the past with this arc though, as current events will happen as well. I'm not going to say anything else on that.

The next major thing to happen would be the jump to audio episode four. As I explained, this would be split into it's original four and five episode names, essentially making up two episodes. In Dark Descents we have The Doctor returning to The Ark with the location of where the Daleks are hiding. Once they arrive at Endor, the start of the battle will be told from the other side. The Mandalorians boarding The Ark. It also gives a better chance to see Krayt Skirata's thoughts on the matter at hand. It the audio series, we don't really get to see much at all about why Skirata would change sides, other than the fact Kronis was friends with him. Within Dark Descents, we'll see the action from his side, his wondering at what the Daleks have caused him, and sudden realisation that he should help destroy them instead of helping them. That doesn't mean we won't have time for the battle between DarkRula and The Doctor.

With Final Throwdown, DarkRula and The Doctor head down to Endor in the Scimitar, hoping to find the TARDIS and stop the Daleks once and for all. Down on the surface, and again from Skirata's viewpoint, we see the Scimitar crash down on the surface near the entrance to the base. The talk between Skirata, DarkRula and The Doctor happens, with Skirata finally admitting to himself and to others that he wants nothing more to do with the Daleks. After giving the warning, he jets off. The viewpoint is now on The Doctor as a revelation is to come. Dalek Zane corners them in the generator room of the base, where preparations have now been finished. The Doctor and DarkRula find a turbolaser battery after Dalek Zane activates the start of the void creation sequence, and fires upon the cruiser of the Daleks. It gets pulled down to Endor, and is headed straight for the base. The void opens and claims the ship, defeat is in the air as a turbolaser gets fired, but that turbolaser fires into the void, restoring energy and closing up the void. The ending will be the same as what happens in the audio episode, though it will be from DarkRula's perspective. Some of the dialogue will be changed to reflect the new canonicity of events, and that is the end. DarkRula and The Doctor part ways.

Except for one more thing. Upon cleaning through the base, DarkRula finds that it was once a sub base of the Jedi. While it might have been abandoned, it still had a live link to the Jedi main base. All of the information about the Jedi and Federation war from the archives of Master Tee Vol's journal is found by DarkRula. He shouldn't have been able to see that, so some Jedi Master had been there and left the link open. It never said why the base was abandoned, but the Jedi-Federation war was more important to DarkRula. The story of all of it is told here. And the final scene is of DarkRula vowing to give both the Jedi and Federation a war they will never forget.

Once this has been finished, there will come a time where I revisit this universe to follow DarkRula on his new quest. However, I would want to take a break from the universe to try my hand at other things. The Chameleon Chronicles does have another side of the story, after all. That being from Sonic's perspective. I'll give more details on that when I get to it. And with that, the Look Back, Look Ahead series of posts for Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles is finished. With how many episodes are left to write, this series should be finished during the first half of next year. Look forward to them.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Nintendo Switch Announcement [Gaming]


We have it! It is here! No more need for speculation!
The codenamed NX got a trailer, and there is also a proper name attached. The Nintendo Switch. As concepts go, this is interesting. Within the first half minute of the trailer, we don't get much. Just someone playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After that is much more interesting. The Switch logo appears, then back to action. The Joy-Con parts form a controller of there own, or can be snapped onto the console itself. When in TV mode, the console rests in a dock. When you want to bring it to handheld form, just remove the console from the dock and the image is switched from TV to the console's screen. There's many ways to play, as shown within the trailer. The Joy-Con parts can be used individually as controllers or put together as one for a more traditional controller. Those Joy-Con parts can attach to the console itself to create a true handheld. There's also a proper controller like any conventional console. This is an interesting take on a console, and though some people will say its hardly a new concept - think about what is being done here. It is a conventional console, no denying that. Nowhere throughout the trailer did we see anything hinting at touch controls - the main interaction is through the controller - meaning this isn't just a tablet with a controller wirelessly connected to give better control in certain games. There's also if the instant switching is that instant. If it is, that is something great that will surely be a key selling point. I'm already hearing some say this is how the Wii U should have been.
The console uses cartridges, that has already been known. Those cartridges are seen in the trailer - not in any detail, but enough to judge - and they look like a cross between the 3DS carts and the PS Vita sticks. There also has to be quite a lot of memory on them, considering we see Skyrim being played within the trailer.
As for other games, it looks as though rumours about ports really are true, as we see Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon being played on the Switch. From how Mario Kart 8 looks, there's the possibility - almost certainty - that these are going to be more than just ports. King Boo features in the Mario Kart 8 footage - who is a character not currently in the game - and also that there is now the ability to pick up two items. Splatoon of course would need some features removed such as motion control and second screen usage. We also see near the end a new 3D Mario title. EA Sports seem to have got a number of games coming as well, since a basketball game that could be a new NBA was shown.

Now, GameXplain have already got a number of videos up analysing every bit about this reveal, so I'm not going into that territory. What I will say is that this is seriously something I could see myself using, even more than my Wii U now. It looks sleek, with both console and controllers. The console fits into the dock when you play on a TV so that solves the issue of the Gamepad taking up space. Since it is just one screen, there's no need for developers to be wasting resources streaming things to two separate screens which could go into a more polished game. Despite already owning Mario Kart 8 I can see myself buying it again on the Switch - both to support the new console and for the convenience that owning it on the Switch brings. The new Mario game looks like fun, despite the very little we see of it. As for Splatoon, I can see myself buying it again as well, for the same reasons as Mario Kart 8. I'd certainly buy The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as we've known since E3 that it looks stunning - and that was on the Wii U. I've never been one for sports titles, and I've never got far in Skyrim, so while it's great that the Switch is getting them, they aren't for me.
And that's just the games we've seen in this small trailer. Think how many more there are going to be once Nintendo start to go into detail about this thing. There could be more enhanced ports of Wii U games. The entire collection of this year's EA Sports games. More franchises that have hardly ever been on a Nintendo console. Revived Nintendo franchises such as F-Zero. And don't forget those we already know of such as Project Sonic 2017 and Dragon Quest.
There is though, through all the hype, reason to get more interested or more cynical. We've only just started to delve into what the Switch is about. There is still a lot more to be revealed about it. I expect everyone will be keeping there eyes open for more official news. I'd say a Direct is more than likely to deep dive into the facts. Point is, this is the start. I can hardly contain my excitement for this thing right now. The fact we've known about it for so long and had so little information about it has been agonising. There have been countless rumours, and there still will be. And that is the point. We know the basics - the concept - of what this is now. Nintendo Switch is an apt name for something that has switchable controllers and instant switching between big and small screens. There's still the deeper things. How well do the games run? How good is the switching? How user friendly will the interface be? These things and more are what people will want to be knowing now. Because they are unknowns though, there will always be two sides. Those who think it'll work well, and those who don't. When more information comes to light, I will be adjusting what I think of it. As I've already said - right now I think this will be a cool machine to have that is more than likely going to work. There's been two years since we first heard about it. Think how much time has actually gone into it.

That's my say on the announcement, and keep on the lookout throughout next week for more information. That Direct I mentioned will more than likely happen over the coming week. This announcement has opened the floodgates for more companies to announce projects they have in the works, and it will be interesting to see just how much of a launch line-up builds over the coming months. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Ousting Chipped Teapots [Cyber Digital Services]


Last month's update was big. This month there won't be much to say. Work continues on making WattPad the home of all my written fan-fiction, and the next part of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles will be uploaded as soon as possible. I also really want to get a proper cover on The Chameleon Chronicles, as there are now two published stories with proper covers. I will also be sorting out a proper banner for my WattPad profile which has the new name of DarkRula Media on it. The first story contained within Crossover Corruption was posted last month. Set on the morning Harry Potter is to return to Hogwarts, Professor Umbridge comes across something within the castle. A certain Zabrak Sith Lord. Will a fight erupt? Read Witch, Wizard, and Zabrak within the Crossover Corruption story on my WattPad profile - https://www.wattpad.com/user/DarkRula - was well as the aforementioned The Chameleon Chronicles and Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles.
If I do any gaming videos this month, I will post alerts about them on social media. I haven't got any planned for this month, so that is why I'm saying that. As for blog posts, I am certain that Nintendo will have to reveal the NX either this week or next. Six months is literally going to be the quickest announce to release period ever. Unless it has been delayed of course. It still needs announcing though. Also the final part of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles Look Back, Look Ahead will be posted this month, bringing a whole post of snippets about the future of the story. If any other blog posts come along, alerts will be posted on social media.

This month is indeed quiet, though I expect next month will make up for that. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles - Look Back, Look Ahead Part 3 [Cyber Digital Services]


So here we are. The point where the written fiction joins up with the audio series. It's here I'm thinking - "This doesn't need to be a full retelling of the audio." Sure, the main plot points still need to be in place. I made sure they were. But the written fiction, as I've said before, was more about being a behind-the-scenes type story. What happened between the audio episodes. So, for the audio episodes themselves, it would be interesting to get more into events happening at the same time but not covered within the audio themselves. Yeah, the main points of the audio would still be there. That's the whole point of including them in the first place. More would be happening though.

Take, for example, the very start of Act 7. The Daleks are in the middle of taking over the cruiser the stormtroopers arrived in. With the audio, we only ever get a small peek at that scene, and without ever knowing the Daleks are the ones causing the mayhem. With the written fiction, we're following them throughout the cruiser as they tackle multiple squads and groups of stormtroopers. Next up was another episode exclusively following The Doctor. Since he doesn't have anything that needs his attention, he is just scouting around as usual and comes across something interesting. As per his curiosity, he explores. As per his exploring, he manages to get himself into trouble. I wanted to include this little bit about The Doctor as, despite being something new to him, it is still within his world of knowledge. And that was something I wanted to show before sending him into an unknown place. Things start to get moving as DarkRula is able to move on and The Doctor arrives in The Ark's main hangar, which the Daleks are not happy about. I also decided to add a bit of an extra part between audio episodes 1 and 2. Just a bit to show a bit of information transfer. Kronis recognising the Daleks by name, and him showing The Doctor a lightsaber.
The second audio episode starts in Act 7 and runs through the entire of Act 8. The Doctor looks up on the TARDIS, and again there is a new part added in the middle so it doesn't look as though the Daleks were right on top of the TARDIS's location when they found The Doctor. As for Kronis, he's in the middle of talking to DarkRula when the Daleks attack. So all three are in place for this event. DarkRula listening in on the comm, The Doctor watching from the overview of the Dalek command room, and Kronis on the bridge of The Ark ready to accept his fate. He knows there is no winning. Fortunately he told DarkRula of The Doctor and the Daleks. Then he gets killed by the Daleks. Since most of the second audio episode had been played out in Act 7, Act 8 needed a bit more to keep it going. So why not dive into more of DarkRula's past? A week after the event at the Thunder Strike Delta base, Kronis takes DarkRula to the main Jedi base of Ilum. The cruiser during that time had been repaired at a Jedi maintenance base, and Kronis had received instructions to return to the main base. It was also on this base that DarkRula had heard the fact that his old home of the Thunder Strike Delta base had been destroyed. Not that he knows who did it. The Mandalorians do. As mentioned in audio episode 4, Skirata had been friends with Kronis. Kronis had contacted Skirata and told him of DarkRula, and of the base who would rather remove a person who made a mistake than teach them how it was wrong. So Skirata had organised a lightning raid on the base. Kronis suspected who it might have been, but never found out the truth. I'm revealing this as I'm unsure it will ever get mentioned within the story. It also leads me to say that after audio episode three, we will be seeing more of the Mandalorian fear of the Daleks, and the doubt about serving them.
So we come to see that the Jedi now accept older students, but first they have to pass the test. This test is the same one the younglings face in The Clone Wars TV Series Season 5. To face yourself and learn to face that what you fear. If older students fail the test, they are unable to become Jedi. Hardly anyone had been accepted through that route, with most still being selected at a young age. The Jedi still fear that route, as history has shown that starting Jedi training at an older age can lead to a more darker path. Within this alternate continuity, there have been five attempts to reinstate the Jedi Order. The first with Luke Skywalker not soon after Return of the Jedi [even though information on that is nearly non-existent I'm still using it as one of the five]. Three other attempts failed, so the Jedi Order we see here is attempt number five. And considering it has lasted more than one hundred years, it is assumed to have worked. So we see DarkRula accept what happened to him at the Thunder Strike Delta base, and also a bit of his training at Ilum. Throughout these flashbacks DarkRula is having, he quietly makes his way to the bridge. Once he reaches the bridge, and sees Kronis again. After a bit of an emotional moment, one last image presents itself. DarkRula and Kronis on Tatooine, with that image changing to reflect the coming change of DarkRula and The Doctor visiting Tatooine in the future. That being audio episode 3. The meeting of DarkRula and The Doctor happens, and the Federation come to call. The Federation have moved into a new level of distrust for DarkRula now, and I wanted to show the strain of that relationship now that the only anchor that held it together has gone. With the Federation taking over The Ark, DarkRula manages to bluff them off it and hold it for himself - something the Jedi insist later might not have been the best idea.
The Mandalorians were aiding the Daleks behind the scenes, and so now they need to find them. They do so out of fear for what they are capable of, and the Daleks know it. A battle ensues between Tir LeRane with two other Mandalorians and the Daleks after a clash of words. LeRane figures the Daleks might as well be taken out, and his two comrades agree, once they accuse him of all their failings. The three try to gather as much information as possible on taking the Daleks out. However, once it comes to Skirata taking over, he does indeed agree to be under their command. He does so to protect DarkRula, just like he destroyed the Thunder Strike Delta base to protect him. Despite the two never meeting, Skirata feels a bond to DarkRula - as though it passed over when Kronis died. Of course, since the death of Kronis was dealt with in Act 7, Act 8 needed its new Dalek Fire. And so the fates of the Mandalorians became that Fire.

Act 9 deals with some of the plots from before the audio episodes. We start with Dalek Rizon on Tatooine, who strikes a deal with Thalos that allows the Dalek to work without interruptions on a new trap for the Doctor. This is again moving closer to setting up when I cover audio episode 3. A few more of these are planned, which will lead right in to audio episode 3's beginning. We get a bit of set up of tension between DarkRula and the Jedi Council, as even that relationship doesn't seem as though it can last. The Jedi order DarkRula to Naboo to continue the mission the Trade Federation had set him, though this time be a bit more peaceful in communicating with them. The Jedi also note The Doctor's appearance, and discuss who he is. Naboo isn't threatened in any way. It was purely to get trouble stirred up, the Federation yet again trying to get one over Naboo. This entire act is based on lies. From all sides. Dalek Rizon lied to get Thalos to trust him. The Jedi hide secrets from DarkRula.
Act 10 sees things get more interesting, with Cyrillia coming into play again. The Jedi order DarkRula to return to the temple - somewhere he hasn't actually been in quite a while. But when there, they give him a mission that could have easily been given over a transmission. The task is simple enough. Go to Cyrillia and get Jek Nori back. Well, it would be simple - had the Daleks not arrived as well. Since DarkRula had convinced The Doctor that he wouldn't be needed, it was easy for him to not reveal the true identities of the attackers to The Doctor. Of course, he had to think to come to that thought. He also had a revelation that Kronis already had. He had heard that the droids were once people, but realising that Jek Nori shared a friendship with one made him think about that The Doctor had said to him upon first meeting. "Surely you must know of the emotional contact between man and machine?" DarkRula has never given any machine any thought than using it as a tool. A ship, a droid, anything mechanical, he has saw them as just something to use. With what he now knows, it's possible he could start thinking a bit different. Upon reaching the Scimitar, he sees the Mandalorians examining it. He uses the Force to pull it out of their reach, and blasts back to The Ark. Meanwhile, the Mandalorians and Daleks have succeeded in what they came for. The technology of turning people into droids. This becomes something else the Daleks use, as they are starting to dwindle in number. We get a bit more on Jek Nori's condition, and a bit more distrust between DarkRula and the Jedi Council. And it seems as though a rift will soon happen as we get into Act 11 and DarkRula is left waiting for something to do.

The Doctor easily tired of waiting, curious was he about the Jedi Temple. So of course he sets to wondering. And gets caught by the Jedi. They question him about his activities. Zabaran gets a little too into the investigation, treating it more as a serious matter than just a conversation. It shows that the pulls of the dark are still around, even if this is the longest the order has survived for over a thousand years. Once Kanar Tee Vol gets involved, the investigation gets on a more calmer note, and after a bit of confusion is sorted out, the Jedi fears about The Doctor are gone. So they set him on a mission to try and find the person they confused him with. The thief that stole from the Jedi Temple. Which The Doctor does, with DarkRula's help. Once that is over, a new mission to Forsaad is to take place. The Doctor convinces DarkRula to let them take the TARDIS down to the surface once they reach the system Forsaad is in. Instead of getting to the surface of Forsaad, the two end up on Qiilura. This is what episode 3 of the audio series would have been had I wrote it. And so act 12 commences. Thanks to what actually happened it audio episode 3, I was able to start the set up for the TARDIS going haywire in this act. Originally they would have just arrived to explore, trying to find likely places the Daleks might be, and stumble upon the plot to kill the gurlanins. Most of the episode stays the same, but the talking wouldn't have been quite so long in some places. The Doctor and DarkRula arrive on the planet, try to find someone, and run into the gurlanin Colsor. She explains about the war between them and the Trade Federation, and DarkRula agrees to put a bit of fear into them. After a scout of the Federation base, in which he was willingly allowed to enter by a lone administrator, DarkRula sees the bombs which changes the course of the plan. A controller for the bomb must be on the planet, and they reason the mansion on the hill is a good place to check out. The Doctor is chosen to go, and while the rest remove the bombs, he destroys the controller but also sets the bomb off. Which is on a timer. After contact with The Doctor, DarkRula gets the administrator out - who wanted to remove the last bomb - just before the place explodes. Once everyone is back together, the gurlanins get to plant the bombs on a Federation-owned target, and the administrator no longer wants to be a part of the Federation. DarkRula offers for her to stay with them, but she refuses due to the Federation ties DarkRula has. If you're seeing a similarity with a certain series beginning book within the Star Wars universe, it's purposefully there. I've used quite a lot from the Republic Commando series over this series - mostly for its representation of the Mandalorians - and this was the largest mirroring so far of that series. I made sure there was enough different so it wasn't a blatant copy, but with enough references for those who would recognise them to enjoy the mirror.

We are getting close to the end of this now, and part four will be the last. All those future stories probably won't take up so much space as these last three posts have done. The future of the series is upon us, then. Fifty episodes, and the old episode system changes to a new one. The place of the uploads now moves, and a number of stories are yet to be told. Part four will reveal the secrets of the future. Not all of them of course, otherwise the series wouldn't continue. Or at least the suspense would no longer be there.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sudden Event Preparation [Cyber Digital Services]


This post is coming later than planned as I took a week out. I could have uploaded earlier, but as the title says [while still fitting in with the naming structure set out at the beginning of the year] there are certain events this month happening.
Not in the same way as last month, where I was at Summer of Sonic, but still events. Currently I am sat in my university room awaiting the start of the last year. My last year. That doesn't mean I won't be updating things here, of course. I still have plans, and they will happen - including the sad demise of a name. The very name that also sits in the title of this post.
Cyber Digital Services was a name - a name I had so often used when younger and fantasising over running an entire business of media related works. I still want the name to live on, though I realise at the core I've been doing things under a different name. My Youtube channel has been under that name for quite a time, and a character of that name also exists within Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles. This period will be a slow transition though. Throughout the rest of the year, there will be changes to the banner of CDS Media, though as I'll be explaining in a bit, that website will no longer be the main source for the stories themselves.
In June I mentioned The Chameleon Chronicles would be the first story to be published to WattPad. At the end of last month, Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles had its first episode uploaded. And I use episode where previously it was act. Each act will now be brought under an episode title, whether that be one used within the act or something relating to the arc itself. Those acts that featured an episode of the audio series will go under the audio series' title, though episode four will be split between the original four and five it was meant to be. The rest of the acts will follow, and this month the Qiilura arc will be finished. That will have a name of its own, and follow the rest. The cover below was made using various assets, including a Second Life render of Jaz's character as The Doctor which he kindly supplied, as well as DarkRula in GTA Online form.


Now, you might be wondering why the change to Wattpad. The answer is a simple one. Weebly has done everything I have wanted from it from when I first set it up. Sure, a few mishaps, but nothing that seriously affected how I handled the site. There is one thing I had noticed and tried to rectify in various ways though. It just isn't very good at being an ebook site. WattPad makes things easier to manage on both creator and user ends. The biggest of which is proper chapter markings. Sure, I can easily do that on Weebly by creating a new page. But then that chapter marking is a sub-page within a page. If I keep making them, it gets difficult to manage when there are over ten, and on multiple pages at that. So just hide them all have a single page with chapter links on it. It still requires navigating back to the main page to get to a new page or a link to get to the new page. Wattpad makes things simpler because it was built to be an ebook site. Chapters are always listed in the drop-down menu, you can easily get to the next chapter, and there are numerous ways to quickly share and comment, with the creator easily being able to see that. CDS Media will still be updated with the new content, but it will no longer get that content first.

Enough about that though, as there are numerous other things to get through. The rumour mill has been turning again, and suggests that Nintendo will finally be revealing what the NX is all about this coming week. It will be interesting to finally see what Nintendo have for us. I still admit the WiiU was a good console, with hits like Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 defining their respective genres, and even getting the exclusive LEGO City Undercover being a bonus. There is no denying it failed to garner success though. The NX needs to impress. With it possibly being too late to gather my thoughts as to what I hope this thing could become, I'll be covering the news with my thoughts when it does get announced.
As for around the network, I hope to have another set of GTA Custom Stunt Races to show off. It's definitely fun to create outside of the set structure of the map, though it can still be a bit restricting in areas. That video will be up on my Youtube channel.
I also hope to be covering Sonic Generations again with another Custom Song video. However, I might be doing something a bit different with it. Once it is uploaded to the SONM Network, I'll be sure to link it on social media and include it within the playlist on Youtube. I might also have something else on the horizon to upload there beginning of next month.
As for Wattpad, during the introductory stage of it during these last few months, I plan to do a number of crossovers. These will be included in the Crossover Corruption story once it is added to the site. These will be alternate universe, being my style, and the first one features on of my core three franchises crossing over with a magical world.
There is also the matter of the third part of Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles Look Back, Look Ahead series. I'd left the second part off just before I start talking about how I adapted audio episodes one and two into the written fiction. This post will decide whether a part four needs to happen. I don't think there is too much more to cover, since while I do want to give some teasers about the future, I don't want to be giving everything away.

The link to my Wattpad account will be linked on the main of the blog, as well as uploaded to social media. It will also feature in next month's update post. That's all for now, so bye for now.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles - Look Back, Look Ahead Part 2 [Cyber Digital Services]


The written fiction of the series, as said in the previous part, started at the beginning of February 2012 - the 7th to be exact. It started at the same time TV and Film Residential Camp did, though the two did split from the same posting dates after the first few uploads. Both stories do share similarities in production. For instance, the starting few parts had very little planning, and only after those few parts did any sense of a longer plan - in other words the main of the story - come from that.
The first two parts of the audio series did give me something to work on, and since Doctor Who is in the name, I knew I wanted to start this audio series with The Doctor. I started it out with the Daleks and Cybermen fighting on some planet with the intention that The Doctor stops the fight. Having him be the one to send the Daleks to the Star Wars universe came from the fact The Doctor has caused problems to be made - sometimes unintentionally - and then having to fix them. I wanted to try a twist of the leaders of a group of Daleks being more human-like in mind, so created the Dalez Corporation. This group could implant a living brain into the shell of a Dalek, as well as alter said brain to be more like the Daleks. When it came to the leaders doing the same process, they left their brains intact from any alteration. Naturally they still imitated the Dalek mindset from time to time so as to blend in with real Daleks. This process of implanting a brain into a machine would be mirrored later in the series in the Star Wars universe. Of course, I'll be mentioning that later on.
The second written episode introduced General Kronis and Max Golden - aka DarkRula - to the scene. With a battle against the Daleks, no less. It might not have been much, but I wanted to show straight away the threat the Daleks are within the Star Wars universe. So they blast through Coruscant and get into a transport only to meet the Mandalorian who owns it. This transport is the Scimitar - the ship Darth Maul owned. I had the idea of using this thing right from the start as Darth Maul being one of my favourite characters, I took an interest in that spaceship he used. Reading up on it, it did look as though it was a one-of-a-kind ship. So what if throughout the many years that separate The Phantom Menace with this timeline the Scimitar changed hands many times only for it to then end up in the hands of a Mandalorian? And then what if DarkRula took that ship after its previous owner had been defeated in battle?

The last episode of Act 1 would detail the third leader of Dalez awaking. This would end the period of no forward planning, though that only extended to the end of each act. It would also start to tie into the audio series more with The Ark making its way into the written series. It wouldn't be in the hands of Kronis until Act 4.
Act 2 was continuing the battle at hand. The Mandalorian the Daleks had run into was now dead, and the Daleks themselves were thought to be as well. The planet Fresia was once a Mandalorian base, and still had its defences. Multiple turret emplacements were set up around the outside of what once had been a small camp, and with one of those destroyed, the Daleks simply moved to the next. So by the time the rest of the Mandalorians come along, that turret is already active and firing. The Daleks wouldn't know friend from foe yet, and are rejecting any calls coming in, so they fire upon the Mandalorians without knowing they are the rescue team. But get rescued they do. The first episode within Act 2 shows the Mandalorians create a warp from the Federation cruiser. The idea of creating the warp came from black holes in space. A black hole is created either through a loss of energy or the gain of unused energy. I simply put those two things together. Extra power is inserted into what is going to be the warp point. That energy then gets near instantly drained to create the warp. Unlike a natural black hole though, this warp can be stopped by returning power to the point it was drained from. This idea becomes much bigger come audio episode four, in which the technology is used on Endor to get rid of The Doctor. The Mandalorians show that they are the Star Wars equivalent to the Daleks by evading capture and destroying one of their own cruisers as a ploy. Tir LeRane also makes short work of both Kronis and DarkRula, though leaves their fate in the hands of the crumbling cruiser. The two are fine and ready to get back in the action though, with the next act allowing them to stop a Dalek trap. Act 2 also introduced the teleports that get used in the first two audio episodes.

Act 3 starts with the Daleks planning on setting traps, though they run into an old foe. The Cybermen had been deposited on Byss, and a battle takes place between both Cybermen and Daleks. The Daleks overcome the Cybermen and finish the task of setting the trap. Kronis and DarkRula arrive on Byss while the Daleks and Mandalorians are still there and set off the trap before escaping. This would be the point where the Mandalorians, along with the Daleks go silent until they re-emerge during the first two audio episodes. It needed to be done like that so Kronis and DarkRula are still pretty much in the dark about their capabilities. Of course, the Daleks want to destroy those who get in their way, so the hunt was behind the scenes. As we find out later, they decide to draw Kronis out by staging an assault, but making it look like only the Daleks are involved. Within Act 3, I decided that it would be interesting to explore unique ways of building droids. And of other creatures that had the Force. So the planet of Forsaad, and the Forsariun bird, were created with the idea of gaining an egg to extract the materials needed for use. The Polar-Axel 2-22 was also created for this specific reason. There is a chance for it to return, however. With a much more interesting use.
The Agility droids do well on their first test, and get sent to the Reverb-class cruisers. A battle is taking place above another Federation base, and Valon gets called to action. DarkRula has visions of something happening, though only after he refuses and gets stunned twice do they resolve to any meaning. Valon will die in this battle. Since Kronis was the commander of The Ark during audio episodes one and two, the current commander of the written fiction needed to be offed. He could simply have been offered a place elsewhere, but this thread was building up to something. It needed to look as though DarkRula could have been the one to kill Valon. And so in the space battle, DarkRula heads out with Valon with a squad of his own. Their adversaries are strong, and all three Reverb cruisers get taken out. DarkRula senses Valon in trouble during the retreat and helps, thus setting up the Neimoidian's distrust of him. Well, less setting it up and more giving them even more reasons to distrust him. Even so, upon the meeting on Neimoidia with the Federation High Council in Act 4, DarkRula is at least able to keep his squad, while Kronis get command of The Ark.
Episode three of the audio series had been published by the time Act 4 starts, and so now was the time for a bit of set up. The third member of Dalez - Dalek Rizon - had found his way to Tatooine. Upon taking command of Tosche Station to get a message out to his fellows. Rizon starts with all-out conquest of the planet. Meanwhile, Thalos is using his command of Stormtroopers to try and keep the situation under control. Rizon's conquest looks as though it ends at the Mos Eisley cantina. This starts the plot thread of Rizon taking command of Thalos for his own ends. Which of course ends with the death of Thalos in audio episode three.

The middle of Act 4 delves into DarkRula's past. Focusing on the battle where he acquired his name of DarkRula. His real name was Max Golden, but since the event of the battle at the Thunder Strike Delta base, he hated the name - and in a way hated himself. Since the event he lived on self-doubt, preferring action to thought lest it stop him from acting. This sets up what happens on Naboo during the battle with the padawan of Jek Nori, and later the guilt at losing yet another team through actions he feels are his own. It would also set up things to happen later on.
The end of Act 4 starts up a small side plot on Naboo, with Act 5 being the start of the Cyrillian arc. In Legends canon, Cyrillia is the world where the DUM Pit Droids are made, so it already had a hand in building droids. Introducing an enterprise to the planet where massive amounts of various droids get made paved the way for the Star Wars equivalent of how Dalez Daleks are made. Implanting the brain of a flesh being into a machine so they keep all their own characteristics. There was also allowance for me to get a few parts of history inserted into this timeline. So the Crime Wars became a thing. It doesn't get expanded on when mentioned within the arc, but the idea behind it was many of the crime syndicates start to catch on to the fact the Republic was crushing them from the galaxy. With the first few entirely wiped out, it pushed them over the edge and they started to retaliate. It took a few months to break out fully, and even less time to be finished. The crime syndicates realised they couldn't match the power of the Republic and even the Jedi, and after two major battles and a few small skirmishes, they retreated to the shadows. Most thought them wiped out. Until a group sporting the name of the New Alliances Rebellion took over a stormtrooper barracks. That name was mentioned in Act 3 by the pirates who were scouting Hoth. As shown, they were captured and let free, and the reason being is hardly anyone knows of the New Alliances Rebellion. The Republic have been trying to cover them up. Neither Federation nor Jedi know of their roots.
So with the tour of Cyrillia over and Nori's padawan taken care of, that was about all I had until The Doctor gets brought to the universe. There was still a few things that needed taking care of. Yes, Kronis and DarkRula were split currently, but there was no way twelve days would pass without the two having contact. And it needed to be twelve days, as I'd planned for the Daleks to have been in the Star Wars universe for a month before The Doctor arrives. Between audio episodes one and three there is a month, then between audio episodes three and four there is a month as well. This was done to keep things simple, but since that was one of the first things ever planned - and three audio episodes already out - there was no way it could be retconned. And so Act 6 was nothing but set up for the start of the audio episodes. DarkRula is kept away from Kronis after escaping Naboo by extensive damage to the Scimitar. Kronis is on patrol duty in a sector far from DarkRula. Almost two weeks pass before DarkRula can get underway again, and Kronis is called as reinforcements for a supply transport that is getting attacked. Though this is the second wave of reinforcements after the Stormtroopers fail in acting their reinforcement request for the transport.

That's the end of part two, and this is starting to get a bit bigger than I had planned. We'll see when it comes to part three of this series, but there might be a part four. In any case, part three will be looking at how I adapted audio episodes one and two into the written fiction, what happened after that point, and at least up to audio episode three, if not four.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Summer of Sonic 2016 [Thoughts]

It's been just over a week since the event, and I can say it was great to be there. I arrived on the Friday in London, staying just round the corner at the Holiday Inn. I had my best friend Hayden with me, and we were looking forward to such an exciting event the next day. We still had the rest of Friday to get through first.
We took to an exploring of the immediate area, looping around the block opposite to where we were staying. We took in the numerous shops around, and popped into a CEX for a look at the things they had for sale. While we didn't buy anything, we saw Simpsons Hit and Run was on sale for PS2, and I'm pretty sure I spotted most of the seasons for Family Guy. There was also a Power Rangers Ninja Storm DVD, which I found very odd as I've never even seen Power Rangers sold anywhere before. Well, the DVD's at least. Around 17:15 we headed to Chelsea Peri Peri Grill, which was right next to the Holiday Inn. The food was nice, and after some spicy chicken and fries we returned to our room. There was still at least a quarter of the day left though, and our drinks supply was low. So we headed back out. First to Argos, where we picked up Cluedo. Then to Poundland where I picked up four drinks, as did my friend. Thank the stars there was a two for one pound offer going in all the shops along that road for cooled drinks, as I lost count of how many we picked up over the three days. Returning to our room, we start up an incredibly simple game of Cluedo - thanks to me reading the instructions wrong and thinking you had to announce all the cards you had that the other person was questioning about. Needless to say, we passed a bit of time before calling it a day. Thanks to the free Wi-Fi, we were able to get on our mobile devices to watch whatever we pleased while lying in our beds before going to sleep. Despite being a Power Rangers fan, I've never seen the original series, so that's what I was watching.


Saturday arrived, and we were up at 08:00. Fully ready an hour later - breakfast being included with our stay - we queued up for the event. The person who joined behind us had a phone hooked up to a radio-like loudspeaker, and was playing SEGA:Sonic Radio. There was a bit of a wait, but with the music and the cameras running up and down the line, it went quick enough. Once inside we headed straight for the merchandise stall. The main thing I wanted was a poster, so a poster I bought. I had planned on going back sometime, but the rest of the day came and went without another visit there from me. The event opened at just over 11:00 with the usual Boozerman animation, minute countdown video - this year featuring members of the Sonic community - and greetings from the founders Svend Joscelyne and Adam "T-Bird" Tuff. Once that was over, there was a small gap until Mike Pollock came on stage for his Q&A. We decided to stay for that, so while sat we looked over at everything else. The queue for Sonic Mania was already going strong. Once the Mike Pollock Q&A started it was getting interesting. Not least because he was asked about how he got the role of Ella from Sonic X.
Never Mind The Buzzbombers was next up, and as that's always an entertaining event, we stayed where we were. And it was an entertaining event. Johnny Gioeli was the guest star for one side, and Mike Pollock for the other. Both sides were backed up by a member from the audience. Team Svend and Team T-Bird battled it out over a very entertaining mask round and a fired up quick fire round, where Adam brought in Matt from Tails' Channel to secure another victory for the team. Which they did. There was a break before Jam With Jun! so we decided it was time to try Mania. The queue was quite long, though not as long as the signing queues got, and we passed the time with Hayden having The Logo Quiz on his phone and both of us trying to guess the logos. This is something we did during most of the downtime. During the queueing, the animation showcase started up. First up was Sonic the Hedgehog in Brief by Frobman. I enjoyed this one as it gave me a feeling of The Magic Roundabout in the way it was narrated. The next one up was from Sonic Paradox. The Vector's Knickers Collab is roughly the same as Knuckles' Briefs was, in that the jokes are formed on a singular main character other than Sonic. It was another great show by Sonic Paradox, and while not fully finished with all the content, it still provided plenty of laughs.


Now, no recording of footage was allowed to allow the line to run smoothly, and I didn't think to even snap a picture of the game from within the line. Needless to say, I enjoyed my time with it. I played the new stage Studiopolis, though couldn't properly enjoy it as there was a bit of an audio problem. That being I was hearing Green Hill Zone's theme over the top of everything else. I've heard many a tale of a demo station glitching out somehow, so I wasn't too concerned. The game itself ran smooth. I got the hang of all the controls very easily, and my limited knowledge of playing the classics transferred to this game as well. I can't fully compare physics and things like that, but the level felt large without actually being so, which is something I've always admired about the classics. Starting out went well, though my timing in certain areas was off and I soon ended up on the lowest path. It was a good time to test the drop dash then... Except I didn't. The move is very easy to pull off in the game, but I just kept letting go of the button too early. All except one time. It felt a good move, sort of like the bounce from Adventure 2 except hitting the ground propelled you forward and not back up in the air. I managed to pull off a few neat jump cuts with the spin dash, and managed to get through the level without losing a life. When it came to near the end of the level, I found a fire shield. Needless to say I didn't use it. Except as a shield. I know the fire shield comes with the ability of a forward charge, but I felt I didn't need to use it. The level design itself is great. Multiple routes within routes, though never complicated. A good number of ramps and loops and other set pieces to get through the levels, and I already knew about the references within the level so was looking out for them. This game is great from what I have experienced from that one level, and I'm hoping we see more levels in the future through more trailers. Which we more than likely will. Now I was going to try Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice, but Jam With Jun was so close and I wanted to be near the front. So when Hayden had finished with his gameplay [he played through Green Hill and said his experience was great as well] we got to the front and sat down. In fact, we stayed sat down throughout the entire Jam With Jun, even when nearly everyone else was stood up. It was great to listen to the guitar riffs of Jun, and Escape From The City at the end with everyone singing was just great. Before Jam With Jun was another animation showcase. First with another showing of Frobman's Sonic the Hedgehog in Brief. The new animation was Sonic CD in 4 Minutes by Roger van der Weide. It had some creative moments in it, with Sonic using the Past sign to get around various obstacles and stopping Eggman before he manages to build his machines during bosses.


Deciding on a spur of the moment to get in the line for the Crush 40 signings, it was a long queue before we got to it. It had already reached the end of the hall and curved around and headed straight back for the signing area. And even more people joined after us, which meant it had started making its way back to the other end of the hall. During the wait, the Q&A with Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka took place. There was a few interesting things said, though no hints of the future. Sonic Mania's trailer was shown before this, with the announcement of a CRT mode that makes the game appear as though it was on an old TV. Also during the wait in line was the Happy Birthday Sonic segment, where Naka and Iizuka were brought back on stage with the Sonic mascot to be presented a cake in honour of the 25th anniversary. Straight after the Sonic Jump event started, where people had to play Jump Fever by actually jumping, and the people who contributed most to the total score won prizes. Once that had finished, despite only getting halfway through the line for the signings, we felt it would be much better to get a good space ready for the final event of Crush 40's live performance. To me, getting a signature is just a bonus. Seeing them perform live is the real experience. Even if just seeing someone live. It was easy to duck out of the queue since we'd reached the top half of the hall, and after circling right the way around the venue we got to roughly the same place as we were when watching Jam With Jun.
The art contest winners were announced, then the finalists of the cosplay contest were brought on stage. There were some great costumes, and even a Star Wars-Sonic crossover cosplay. The Perfect Chaos cosplay won, which I felt was fair. It looked great, and had moving appendages as well. Last up was the Summer of Sonic Signoff before the finale event. The founders received some signed artwork for their hard work over the years after a video that had been put together of fans saying what Summer of Sonic meant to them. A big thank you went out to everyone, all the special guests - past and present - and everyone who attended with a credits-like video playing out. It also featured all the Kickstarter backers who made this year's even happen. Then was the finale.
Club Sonic gave various tunes to clap along to, and near the end Team Chaotix and Endless Possibility to sing. And those two songs got a lot of people ready for Crush 40. Upon each "Team Chaotix!" the crowd just pumped it out, and the same could be said for "Endless Possibility" every time that came up near the end. Club Sonic got a huge cheer to finish on, and Crush 40 got an even louder cheer when announced they'd be up next. And when they eventually came on after a pause in between. Opening with Open Your Heart, the crowd were just continually enjoying it - cheering and singing along. Jun even swapped guitars from his Sonic to his Shadow for those songs related to Shadow. Some of their non-Sonic related songs such as One Of Those Days even featured in the set list. On Live and Learn - the second to last song - the Sonic Twins, two females [think they were sisters] cosplaying Jet and Wave were allowed on stage to sing with Johnny. Any fans dream, I'm sure. The last song was What I'm Made Of. One of their best songs.


After the event closed with the last song, it was back to Holiday Inn. And there we stayed, except for the few minutes in the Co-op to pick up more drinks. While that picture above was taken back at home a week after the event, that is the shirt I had on throughout the day. The little time remaining of Saturday was spent planning an adventure for tomorrow.
Sunday opened with a walk to Hammersmith, where we hung around for a while before checking out GAME in King's Mall. After a while, we caught a bus over to Hyde Park, where we walked from the west to the east of it and into the main London city. Checking out Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, we called it a day and headed down into the underground. After a drink and a bit to eat in a pub, we headed back to Holiday Inn where we spent the rest of the day watching The Simpsons and the Patagonia Special of Top Gear on the TV. Getting back on the Monday went smoother than getting to London, not least because we managed to catch earlier trains than planned [except our pre-booked hour long journey between Watford Junction and Birmingham New Street].
The weekend as a whole was great, though the highlight was definitely Summer of Sonic. The event is great, and there's always a lot to do and see. While I didn't get talking to anyone while there, I could see that everyone around was enjoying themselves. If another Summer of Sonic was to happen, I would definitely go again. And despite the fact that I said getting signatures was just a bonus, I would definitely try to get some. Perhaps even just getting to meet them. That's one thing I really should have done this time. There were loads of other special guests, and while I'm not following any of the Sonic comics, it would have been good to meet some of them. And if the event does happen again next year, Mania will already be out and Project 2017 will more than likely have its full name revealed and demo pods out in the open for events. And it'd be good to hear more live performances.
That's my experiences from Summer of Sonic 2016, and so that's all from me this time. Bye for now.