What’s New — November 2017

I’m so happy it’s November, guys. November is always a great month for me. For one thing, it’s the beginning of fall — which comes a little late to the Bay Area where I live. It’s also when one of my favorite holidays occurs, since I love reconnecting with family and doing a little cooking for Thanksgiving. It’s also a tradition to start decorating for the holidays this month. And writing like crazy during NaNoWriMo. So, here’s what I’m up to these days…

Over the weekend I started playing Assassin’s Creed Origins. It’s easily my most-anticipated Assassin’s Creed game ever, because of the ancient Egypt setting. I was a huge ancient Egypt nerd when I was a kid. In fact, my mom recently moved to a new house, and in cleaning out and packing up my old bedroom, I found a heap of books on Egyptian history and King Tut. That’s why I couldn’t wait to explore this setting in such an immersive way.

So far, Origins is extremely fun and very pretty. I’ve barely scratched the surface, so it may be way too early to judge, but I feel that the story hasn’t grabbed me in the early hours the way most Assassin’s Creed games do. Fortunately, that’s balanced by the fact that this one is so open-world. Which can be both good and bad, for me. We’ll see how far I make it with this game — for now, I’m enjoying the exploration of this gorgeous place.

star trek discovery romance.jpgI’ve also been watching CBS’s new Star Trek series, Discovery. While the first episodes had me on the fence, I found it entertaining — just not quite Star Trek-y. Fortunately, the series has picked up, and last week’s episode — which involved the return of a very entertaining bad guy, a really cool time-loop, and lessons in getting outside your comfort zone — was the best one yet. It kept me invested and guessing the whole time. The deep-dives into both the main character’s emotional life and time travel were perfectly interwoven, too. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a little romance. If you have to watch just one episode of Star Trek Discovery, make it this one!

Finally, this month is National Novel Writing Month, which I like to jump into every November. It’s just so crazy how fast it creeps up on me every year! I’ll admit I’ve been so busy with personal stuff, wedding stuff, my-mom-moving-to-a-new-house stuff, and Paris Games Week work stuff that I haven’t prepared for NaNoWriMo at all. But I’m excited to participate again all the same, so I guess I’ll just wing it this year and have fun.

What are all of you up to this month? I’m always interested to hear what games you’re playing, shows you’re watching, and anything else big in life. =)

— Ashley

Tracking in Open World Games: An Investigation

As open world video games take off, exploration is becoming a huge part of gameplay. The trouble is that it can be hard to pinpoint where the action is happening when there’s such a vast world in front of you. It’s interesting to see how different games handle this via the use of tracking — whether that’s scanning the environment (Mass Effect Andromeda), using special senses to follow a trail (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt), or utilizing technology that reveals more about what’s around you (Horizon Zero Dawn).

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Getting to Know the Witcher in “The Last Wish”

At its heart, The Last Wish is a series of monster stories. The first book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series (which CD Projekt RED’s video games are based on), it’s not so much a novel as a line-up of short stories that depict Geralt of Rivia taking on monster-hunting contracts. It feels like reading dark fairy tales, similar to The Bloody Chamber, and the reason is that the monsters aren’t all crazed animals or mythical beasts — they are usually regular men, women, and children who have been cursed.

I read the book a few years ago, when I first got into The Witcher video game series. After hearing that the series is going to be made into a Netflix show, I got onto a Witcher kick and decided to re-read The Last Wish and then continue with the novels that follow. I purchased the audiobook, which is excellent, although I think I prefer reading rather than listening to this series due to the depth of the conversations and world-building. This is a book full of details you don’t want to miss.

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SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, and VIDEO GAMES!