Kiss your Majesty goodbye in the new Halo 4 DLC!

Map Pack: Majestic

Size: approximately 400 megabytes

Levels: 4

Release Date: 25th of February in the Northern hemisphere, 26th in the South

Landfall:

This medium sized map has unbelievably detailed graphics which efficaciously cause the city to come to life in mythic detail. To further accentuate the overall feel of the city under dire threat, Covenant forces have attacked in full, with capital ships visible in the background decimating buildings left and right. Huge fires cover the horizon, with mushroom clouds of smoke gliding across the air. Human civilian transports rush into the battlefield to pick up stranded refugees, before moving out as quickly as they arrived, with two Broadswords located just outside the map, ready to help reinforce the depleting numbers of hardened marines battling for the safety of the planet.

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Within the realm of the map, the word ‘evacuate’ moves across computerised screens in bold yellow letters, furthering the idea in the mind of the player that the city is under massive threat. But so too are you, the player, within the multiplayer map. There are many tight corners and corridors across the map which will inevitably cause one too many close calls and tight fight sequences to take place. Explosive ordinances are left lying about the map, which can advantageously assist players in dispatching weakened opposition. The lack of any good vantage point, with the exception of two separate corners prevents those who would normally prefer to camp out the inability to acquire those perfect head shots from the view of a sniper scope.

Landfall is one of those rare few maps that is great for any occasion, whether you are into hardcore deathmatch or team based games the likes of capture the flag.

Monolith:

For its name, Monolith is not quite as gargantuan as one might have initially believed upon seeing its title; in reality it is a moderately sized map that is suited to almost any specific game type.

Reminiscent of previous maps in the Halo 4 game the likes of Erosion and Impact, this particular map is located within an asteroid field, with two specific bases located at either end, even the rocky surface of the ground you fight upon changing colours to alert you to which base you happen to be stumbling into. The walls and general feel of the entire map is reflective of a forerunner facility long abandoned and left forgotten in the vast blackness of outer space, repurposed now for the means of terminating battling Spartans.

Unlike other maps, upon entry into the game, vast quantities of ordinances appear immediately to help accommodate the player lusting for a better weapon than the conventional AR5.

There are a number of jump pads located in front of either base, which can be used to effectively avoid enemies and quickly move from one location to the next without fear of being targeted for assault. Jump pads positioned at the rear of either base are perfect for sneaking up on opposition undetected, which can hinder those attempting to snipe targets making their way towards their base. Although the map offers fantastic vantage points to overlook the surrounding area at either base of operations, the rear jump pads offer your opponent the potential chance of assassinating you just as effortlessly.

Skyline:

For those familiar with the Citadel in Mass Effect, in particular, the second game of the trilogy, Skyline will no doubt make you feel right at home. The distorted sound of the voice over crackling over the communication transmitter beckons you into this futuristic civilisation in the dead of night. Looming over the city from one of the many far corners of the civilised planet, the player is given the spectacular vantage point to see a vast quantity of choppers and other like transport gliding through the air in the distance, whilst other vehicles quickly rush across the freeways below.

The sound of beeping terminals and the flashing of computers further immerses you into this living, breathing civilisation yet to be touched by the malicious hand of the Covenant war machine.

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This relatively small map which is suited best for accommodating players interested in participating in deathmatches, comes equipped with two floors, the upper providing the player with the unfair advantage of easily targeting the opposition running about on the lower deck. Although stairs can be used to defeat the purpose of the advantages of the players who occupy the top most floor of the structure, jump pads are just as easy as getting this done.

Additionally, for those on the lower floor, you will more often than not feel more like a rat in a maze than a Spartan super soldier, whilst those who overlook the lower floor can quickly jump from one side to the next due to the vast number of objects which stick up that can be used as unconventional bridges to help those on the upper floor track those on the bottom.

Vortex:

This is the only large map accommodating vehicles which comes in this particular DLC. Unfortunately, you the player may feel somewhat cheated, for the map will no doubt remind you of Solace in more ways than one. Unlike the former map mentioned, where at times it was difficult to spot enemies in the vast number of vantage points within the map, Vortex has a more structured feel to it, and is especially great at supporting those wishing to play a team based game the likes of capture the flag.

As previously mentioned, this map supports vehicles, however I did not specify how many; safe to say, if you love Halo vehicles, then this map is for you, because if you can’t find a vehicle in this, you are certainly not looking hard enough. Warthogs are positioned in front of either base and along the sides, with additional Ghosts and Mongooses to support these. In the centre of the map a Warthog with a rocket launcher attachment is up for grabs to either team, whilst the strongest vehicle on the battlefield is the Wraith, hidden away to the side.

The building in the centre positioned over the top of the central Warthog is reminiscent more of Covenant technology than the bases which are representative of historical Forerunner facilities. Here at the central compound, weapon turrets overlook the bases, with the red base in particular being in sight of one of the turrets, which can be used by the opposing team to wipe out the enemy forces as they waltz out from the base and onto the map proper. With this particular building and the sheer size of the map in general, this particular battlefield is a great place to hone those sniper skills of yours upon a long distance rifle being deployed into the map.

For those unfortunate enough not to have a vehicle (for instance, those running about the map with an enemy flag), the few jump pads can be used to increase the distance between Spartans running about the map on foot and those in hot pursuit in vehicles. Of course, the side passages, especially one covered with cacti on the right side (the left when moving out from the red base) are perfect for avoiding vehicular manslaughter and a vast majority of foot traffic in the process as well, with most of the firing taking place in the centre of the map which is essentially a kill zone for any not fast enough to outmanoeuvre stronger combatants.

On a final note, entering enemy bases is relatively easy, and judging by their abnormally small size, acquiring whatever is mandatory for successful completion of the game is just as simple – it’s getting out alive that is the hard part. Safe to say, this is one match worth playing for anyone wishing to participate in a Halo team building exercise.

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New York goes native in the legendary final instalment of the Crysis trilogy!

Review of the Crysis 3 campaign

Developer: Crytek
Publisher: EA
Available: as of February 21st (in Europe and Australia) (19th in USA)
Consoles: PC, PS3 and XBOX360

 

More Entertaining Than: Crysis

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Less Entertaining Than: Bioshock

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Rating (out of 10): 9

Length: Between 8 and 10 hours

Pros:
-Gorgeous visuals
-Intense storyline
-Frequent entertaining action sequences
-Powerful weapons
-Advantageously beneficial upgrades

Cons:
-Disappointingly short
-Easily exploitable AI
-Unchallenging scenarios

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Since 2007, Crytek have been dazzling gamers with the Crysis franchise, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Like Halo, Gears of War and Mass Effect before it, Crysis is a trilogy, and Crysis 3 sees the game come to a close.

Once more you put on the legendary Nano suit and take control over the character Prophet, who effortlessly commands the screen in this relentless action blockbuster.

As always, you go up against the insidious Ceph alien force, whilst additionally facing CELL, the human organisation wishing to use the alien technology to dominate the planet.

Crysis 3 is set over 20 years after the events of the game before it, and is once more set in New York. However, time has not been nice with what is hailed as one of the single most beautiful cities in all the world; CELL have encased the once proud state in a gigantic sphere to separate it from the rest of society, whilst commanding the awesome power of the Ceph from within to seize control of the American capital and force all into enslavement; working to help them further dominate the planet. But, as we all know, utilising alien tech is traditionally never a smart thing to do, and so inevitably everything is bound to go terribly wrong.

Believed to be extinct, the Ceph wait to once more rise up from beneath the Earth to complete their master plan; to send a message out to their own galaxy, and alert their forces to come to planet Earth to bring an end to the human species with one swift act of global extinction.

Prophet knows the plans of the aliens, for when he upgraded his Nano suit with alien technology he managed to connect himself to the Ceph hive mind, and communicate with the villainous leader of the Ceph forces; the Alpha Ceph, who communicated back to him his plan; and how Prophet would fail to stop it from coming to fruition.

After been captured by CELL, who wish to rid Prophet of his suit in exchange for the power it contains, he is saved by his old friend Michael Sykes; known to Prophet as Psycho, a former Nano super soldier. He however has not been so lucky, Psycho’s suit having been torturously ripped from his body, reducing him once more to his humanity.

Because of this, Prophet remains the only soldier wielding the power of the mythical Nano suit; and so is the only human being alive capable of stopping not only CELL, but the horrifying Ceph forces. It is here, that Crysis 3 begins.

Unlike its predecessors, Crysis 3 offers an emotionally in-depth experience. In a few of the cut scenes that separate the action sequences, the sheer intensity of the scenes will really get to you, and they proudly display not only human’s will to survive, but the immense power of humanity’s spirit, and the human heart.

These moments are triumphantly executed with beautiful acting and outstanding visual effects that will ultimately leave you breathless.

Graphically, Crysis 3 is unfathomably superb, and has, hands down, the most gorgeously fabulous visuals of any game released this year. The flawless graphics allow the characters to come to life and the environments you fight through look all the more stunning, drawing you deeper into the storyline and the frequent action sequences.

When not eliminating hordes of enemy opponents, you will most likely be admiring the beautiful effects that Crytek have efficaciously installed into their product.

Psycho returns for the action

Psycho returns for the action

Joining Prophet and Psycho this time round is Psycho’s girlfriend, Claire, who appears much like Ashley Williams/Kaiden Alenko in Mass Effect 2 and 3 after the discovery that Sheperd had briefly forged an alliance with Cerberus; except Crytek further accentuate the animosity. Throughout a majority of the game, Claire sees Prophet as nothing more than a machine, referring to him as an ‘it’ and as ‘hardware’, going so far as to say that he is not even human. She is unbelievably emotionlessly zealous, and I will not be surprised if you come to loath her character as much as she hates yours for a considerable portion of the title.

Another character who joins the team is Resch, who is the former founder of the Hargrave Institute and the designer of the original Nano suit, whose knowledge on its design could very well be unfathomably wealthy.

Moving on, the Ceph have additionally upgraded their ranks, and you will discover that there are not just grunts and heavies roaming about the fields, with a few friends coming to join the war effort to halt your progress. One new opponent is the Incinerator, who uses a terrific flame thrower to heinously devour you in fire. When been fired upon, it borrows its head, its only vulnerable point, into the ground as to keep you from taking it offline, which is a wonderfully unique experience.

Some may recall that in the original Crysis, although the period was short lived, you were given the opportunity to wield an alien weapon. In Crysis 3, this ability is in vogue once more, with some awesome hardware the likes of the Balt Sniper, Incinerator, Reaper Cannon and the predominantly found Pinch Rifle, just to name a few, all been up for grabs.

However, alien tech can only be equipped for a temporary basis, and cannot be fixed into a slot in your inventory. Running on a singular power cell, once all of the energy has been spent, the weapon is rendered redundant, and you return to wielding human weaponry.

An annoying feature of the alien weaponry is that not always does an alien opponent drop a weapon after been eliminated. On many instances I obliterated an alien antagonist, only to find that it failed to drop anything for me to take. Bigger enemies always drop something though, but grunts only provide you with a nice little gift every so often, so don’t be continuously expecting a reward for taking a few of them down.

Alien technology aside though, the human weapons at your disposal are just as entertaining as they always were in previous titles, with the return of the much loved Scar, Feline, Marshal, Jackal (and my personal favourite) the Grendel.

Additionally, the Predator Bow makes an appearance into your inventory, been an addition to the other three weapons that you choose to carry (one primary, one secondary, and explosive ordinances). The bow effectively allows you to fire, whilst remaining concealed in cloak mode, and you can retrieve basic carbon impact arrows from the bodies of your enemies.

The arrow types include, as already mentioned, carbon impact, which is your typical day to day arrow; the super thermite arrow, which will stick to any surface before detonating when an enemy enters its proximity; the airburst frag, which detonates upon impact, and is great for dealing with groups of opponents, and lastly the electric charge arrow, which decimates all technology with an EMP burst that fries anything electronic.

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All weapons can once more be upgraded, however the system works differently than it has in the past. No longer are the potential upgrades simply beneficial, and on occasion upgrades will limit your weapons as much as they empower them.

For instance, employing a larger magazine will limit the total amount of rounds you can carry for that weapon, whilst attaching a fore grip will limit a weapons’ overall efficiency.

This is additionally the case with some of the upgrades that can be attached to your Nano suit. Unlike in Crysis 2, where you acquired what was essentially needed to upgrade your armour from the bodies of the deceased Ceph, in Crysis 3 you need to discover small packages which each contains a single credit which can be spent towards an upgrade.

Upgrades require between 1 and 3 credits each as to be successfully unlocked, and so you need to choose what it is that you intend to spend your points upon. Unlike in the second game where there were four separate categories to choose from and you could only purchase one from each to use at a time, in Crysis 3, all upgrades can be attached to your armour to make you unbelievably powerful.

However, as previously mentioned, some of the upgrades additionally limit you as much as they benefit your character; for instance, by increasing the potency of your suit’s armour capability, you additionally cause your body to move slower. This is simply one of several examples to be found. Safe to say, you need to make choices as to what you wish to be made stronger, and what you are willing to sacrifice to be all that you must to defeat the alien menace.

Another new addition to the game is the ability to hack enemy turrets, mines, doors and other like devices, which on occasion is a mandatory aspect of the game. Hacking in general is not immensely difficult; you must align the signal wave so that it all connects to the same circuit – honestly, it sounds more difficult than it is. The difficulty can sometimes be that you might be under pressure from enemy fire, and if you fail the hack, your suit’s energy is automatically fried and you must begin again.

Furthermore, the enemy AI is something that the Crysis franchise has always had difficulty delivering. In previous titles one might on occasion find an enemy running into a wall and refusing to budge. Once more, this is one such occurrence that transpired a number of times during the game. If you happen to be on a higher ledge than an enemy, more often than not they will run up to the corner of the building you stand upon and stand there as though waiting to be shot.

Although easy to exploit, the enemy AI also does have its moments. Enemies do take cover and will call in support (they do this unbelievably well) and take notice if members of their team are killed. If they see you, find a body of a deceased member of their team or believe something is wrong, they will immediately begin to make your life a misery by alerting everyone to the presence of an enemy combatant.

Stereotypical enemies are not very powerful and can be dispatched with ease, however, so can your character, even with the legendary Nano suit, and so much of the game is spent ducking in and out of cover.

Because of this, Crysis is not very challenging, and you will often find yourself flying through the campaign, even on the ‘Super Soldier’ difficulty setting.

Many a moment can be easily conquered with the use of the awesome abilities of your Nano suit and the raw firepower of your weapons. If anything, the Predator Bow further increases the effectiveness of your inventory, and even the strongest opponent can be taken down with but a single arrow (on occasion).

When fire power is not working, one can simply run around the opposition, all the way to the next area and continue on from there, avoiding whatever it was they were having difficulty with in the process.

For example, one particular moment that looked particularly gruesome to me was when I had to make my way to Claire’s location and provide her with cover fire. To get there however I had to cross several battlefields rife with unimaginable enemies. Suddenly, I discovered a tank in the corner, and I let loose with the trigger and haltered the enemy rampage with such unbelievable ease that I even surprised myself when even the biggest enemy of all came crashing to the ground with very little struggle.

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Due to the game’s ease, it will not take long for you to eventually complete the campaign which you could finish off over the course of a day (yes, even on the highest skill setting). Previous Crysis titles offered considerably challenging scenarios and (especially the second game in the franchise) offered a rather massive campaign. With that said, the general size of the game, and the knowledge that this is the last in the franchise, will leave you feeling a little deprived as you lick your lips after your final battle in the hope for a little more.

However, even though the campaign is ridiculously short for a Crytek game, the ending brings to a close the series and leaves you feeling content with all that you have accomplished, from the original Crysis, to the conclusion of Crysis 3.

All in all, Crytek should be proud of their legendary accomplishment, and someone should most certainly by these guys several rounds of beers.

Image References:

http://www.ea.com/crysis

http://www.ea.com/au/crysis-3

http://gameplot.net/crysis-3-hd.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crysis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/11/15/crysis-3-trailer-and-screenshots/

Shall I be remembered when I have left this world?

 

What is the meaning of life?

It is a question that many have pondered about over the centuries, with a vast number of responses being theorised.

Of course, many would say that the answer is unbelievably simple: the meaning of life is to acquire an economically proficient occupation; to become a professionally empowered and respectable individual; to fall in love and one day have a cherished family. The biggest thing to keep in mind though, would be to always follow your mind; your heart; your gut; and to always, and this is the most important part – have fun. For what is life if it is dull, boring and predictable?

I on the other hand would additionally speculate that we wish to be remembered, right?

This is something that I have thought about – not often mind you, but it has on occasion crossed my mind. Bearing in mind this is not exactly the most positive post ever (in fact some may go so far as to call some of the connotations downright negative), so please bear with me. If you have objections, by all means – make them known at the conclusion of this piece…

Back to what I was writing…before we depart this Earth, we would like to have achieved something that someone would remember us by.

Militarian leaders of the past, the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander the Great are especially known for their orchestration of the spilling of blood and frequent warfare; for their fantastical wins and unfathomable losses; the way they presided over their dynasty; and how they treated their municipals; their supporters; and their people.

I am not speculating that everyone wishes to go down in history with such a spectacular résumé under their belt, but I do believe that we wish to be able to look back and think ‘I will be remembered for this, that and the other.’

My question is, are we really ever remembered?

For instance, say when you leave this Earth you have yourself:
-a loving partner
-a fantastic child
-loving parents
-amazing friends
-a gorgeous dog
-a professional occupation

Will you be remembered?

Below is a purely hypothetical scenario of what could happen…

Your loving partner will weep for you, and will eventually; perhaps a year later, or maybe three, find a new lover and will happily marry them.
Your child will grow up calling another person ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’.
Your parents will cry over you, for parents should never be forced to outlive their children, and then they too will pass away, and no longer will they grieve.
Your friends will drink to your memory, and soon afterwards find another friend to replace you with.
Your dog, being man’s best friend, will happily acknowledge the love and support of any new owner who comes into their life and will eventually forget you ever existed.
Your boss will, perhaps a week later, have already filled your position with another able bodied worker who will soon succeed you and go on to perhaps run the company.

What legend do we leave behind when there is always something, always someone that can so easily replace us? In love; in friendship; in professionalism; we are, each of us – replaceable. Really makes you consider the value of a human life.

Many people would say they would give anything to see their loved one again. But what would they give to feel happiness again?  How can we be remembered when the whole idea of living is to simply move on with your life when something horrific happens, such as losing someone who meant so much to you?

Besides, today, history is learnt and taught by so few people. Very few people have any respect for the past, and as the years go on, fewer people will care. There will come a time when people will simply not even remember about the ancient Egyptians; the ancient Greeks; the French Revolution, or the Russian Revolution; and if these significant moments in history are not remembered; how do you honestly think that you will ever be remembered for what you accomplished?

And in the end, much like the sands of time, we will be erased from the history of the world, and we will become nothing more than a whisper in the gathering dark, and soon after, we will be but silence in the background of time.

By this time, nobody will even remember us; and nobody will even care to.

 

Thoughts and suggestions are always welcome.

Have a great day!

Oh my stars, another Liebster Award!?

 

Apparently so! The very beautiful blogger, Just One Monkey Typing, whose blog can be found at the following link (http://justonemonkeytyping.wordpress.com/) was kind enough to present this award, which I have not been granted twice, but three times now, a couple of days ago. Thank you ma’am!

liebster-award

 

Now, there are rules to accepting this award, and they are as follows:

1: Thank the blogger who nominated you for the award and link back to them

2: Answer the 11 questions they presented to you

3: State 11 random things about yourself

4: Write 11 questions of your own and nominate 11 bloggers of your choosing and alert them of the award nomination

 

Now, the questions that Just One Monkey Typing created are as follows:

 

1.      What is one album you couldn’t live without? 

It would be a tossup between these seven treasures of mine:

-Don Henley’s Greatest Hits

-Halo 4 Original Soundtrack by Neil Davidge

-Daughtry – Break the Spell

-MeatLoaf – Bat Outta Hell II: Back Into Hell

-Bon Jovi’s – Slippery When Wet, New Jersey & Have a Nice Day

2.      What was your childhood dream? 

I had a few in fact…I wanted to be a writer…I wanted to be the next David Attenborough…I wanted to be an actor…I wanted to be involved in the development of computer games.

Funnily enough, not too long ago I came to my sensors and returned to my original dream.

3.      If you could choose between knowing every language fluently or being able to play every instrument perfectly, which would you choose?

Hands down – speaking every language fluently. It would make navigating the world unbelievably easy, and I could easily assimilate into new cultures regardless of my background because language is one of the single most crucial factors in life, for communication is key to the survival of a culture.

4.      What is your opinion of Valentine’s day? 

I wrote a post about this actually a couple days before receiving this award. Perhaps it was my sub-consciousness knowing that I would receive this. You can read all about my opinion on such a rotten wonderful occasion right here… http://wp.me/p2tQ7q-5u

5.      Which band/artist would you most like to see in concert? 

In order: Don Henley, Daughtry and Bon Jovi.

I rarely go to concerts though because I get freaked out by large crowds. The last time I went to a concert must have been what, Moving Pictures? Wow – I am so old! (I’m only 23 this year, FYI)

6.      What is the kindest thing anybody has ever done for you? 

A young woman went out with me once for a couple years. That was awfully kind of her. Does that count?

7.      What is your earliest memory?

Kindergarten; when I was initially contacted, or should I say, due to my age (4), when my parents were originally contacted by the Associated Modeling Agency, they requested that they supply pictures to show the different types of emotions that I could convey. I remember I did this pose on the playground where I wore a fireman’s helmet and looked as though I was deep in thought, and this subsequently became one of the few images that were shown to the modeling agency which inevitably led to me being represented by them.

8.      What was your favourite subject in high school and why? 

This would be a tossup between Year 12 English (because the subject was incredibly freeing. In previous English classes it had seemed as though the class was controlled with an iron fist, but in Year 12 we had so much more control over choice and class communication and teamwork, etc; the texts were additionally more interesting and more adult as well) and Year 12 Drama (I think it is obvious why – drama is always so incredibly easy and fun to participate in).

9.      If you could choose to speak any language fluently, which one would you choose and why?

This is a very interesting question – never thought much about it. I can already speak two languages – English and bad English. Perhaps I could speak Japanese – it’s an incredibly fast spoken language from a culture with a very colourful past that is unbelievably quick at evolving. If you could speak a language then hypothetically you could probably write it too, right? (Pun included) Therefore, I could use all of those intricate symbols.

10.  Do you have a favourite film soundtrack? If so, what is it? 

Not so much a favorite film soundtrack, but I do appreciate the soundtracks from video games. My favorites would have to be (in no particular order) the themes from the Halo and Mass Effect franchise, the music from Enslaved, the Witcher, et al.

However, come to think of it I have always been partial to the soundtrack from the Lord of the Rings the Two Towers, the Sixth Day, Titanic, Spartan, Wing Commander and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

11.  Name three books that you couldn’t live without. 

Star Wars: the Complete Visual Dictionary – David West Reynolds, James Luceno and Ryder Windham

Star Wars Character Encyclopedia (DK Publishing)

The above two texts are my favorite Star Wars books of all time. Being the avid Star Wars fan that I am, I cannot imagine reliving what is without a doubt one of the greatest film sagas of all time in visual text format.

Dacked – Andrew Daddo

One of my favorite short story collections of all time, when I was an adolescent, this particular collection was very true to me and I could easily relate to the storylines and the characters. I found this to be very rare back then when reading books and I clearly remember reading this text a number of times, and each time, although I knew what was going to happen, the book continued to surprise me as I came to understand more and more about the characters and plots.

 

Eleven Random Facts About Me:

-Since I was nineteen I have had tinnitus in my right ear. It was initially in both my left and my right, but I should be glad that it only resides in my right ear now. For those who have not had to suffer this annoying issue, just imagine this; a phone is ringing non-stop inside your ear 24/7. Good times? I think not!

-I have written three short story collections, one novel, and am at present working on a sequel whilst simultaneously searching for a publisher. However, as I mentioned previously in this post (http://wp.me/p2tQ7q-5k) not too long ago, trying to find a publisher/literary agent is not exactly an easy task.

-Last year I completed my undergraduate university course; a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in Professional Writing.

-I am better at communicating literally than I am verbally.

-I was born in Melbourne, Victoria Australia, and I continue to live there to this very day.

-As surprising as it may seem, I have not once in my life ever gone out on a date with an Australian woman – despite the fact that I have lived in Australia for a cool 23 years.

-Although I very rarely fall in love, I become attracted to women incredibly easily.

-I am 183 centimeters tall (I think). Don’t take this as the Gospel.

-I am unbelievably sarcastic at the best of times. I am unbelievably sarcastic at the worst of times as well, funnily enough.

-I absolutely adore my privacy – a little hypocritical since I have five sites on social media.

-I prefer the Winter over the Summer. Why? Well, in Summer…I suffer from heat stroke…I have hay fever (true, this is more potent in the Spring but does continue into Summer)…to ensure the house does not become boiling hot I have salad more often than not come dinner (a.k.a rabbit food) and after three months of salad I am so fed up with it I just want to cry a blood curdling scream!

 

My Eleven Questions:

What is your dream occupation? Why?

Which is your favorite post you have written on your blog thus far? Why?

What is your favorite sport? If you are not an enjoyer of sport, might you kindly share why not?

You’re an actor (hypothetically). Your favorite text is being turned into a feature film and you wish to play the role of the one fictional character that you have always loved. What is the text being turned into a film? Which character do you portray? Is there anything new you might add to the role that was not in the book? Why did you make these decisions?

It’s the future; space travel is easily accessible. You are a revered astronaut who explores the stars. Whilst out travelling you discover your dream planet. What is it like? What life lives there? What will you call this world you have found?

What is your favorite film genre? Why? Might you be able to share five films that you enjoy which come under said genre?

If you could grow an extra appendage upon your person or modify a part of your body, what would it be? Would you grow a tail? Would you have pointy Elven ears, sharp Tri’lek teeth, blue Navi skin, etc? Why?

At your place of work you discover a fifty dollar note just lying on the ground. What do you do? Do you take the money for yourself, believing that you have earned it for all of your hard work? Do you give the money in to your boss so that he/she might keep it safe until someone comes looking for it? Do you take the money and buy several handfuls of chocolates/lollies come lunch time to share with your colleagues? What do you do? Why?

What is/was your favorite subject/s at high school/university? Why? Might you also state what was your least favorite?

You wake up tomorrow with extraordinary super human powers. What are they? Like Super Man, you can have up to six of them. Better yet, will you use your powers for good, or for evil? Additionally, what would be your weakness?

You are given the opportunity to become the political leader of your country for an entire week. Over the course of this time, what is it that you do?

 

My Nominees:

Here’s a twist…With the exception of the bloggers I gave this award out to last time, I really have no idea as to who to give the Liebster Award to. Do you know how difficult it is to find a follower/someone you follow with less than 200 followers? I’ll tell you – it’s very hard!

So, with that in mind (and my unbelievable amount of laziness to go along with it), anyone who reads this post and has less than 200 followers, CONGRATULATIONS! This award is yours!

You just crash landed on LV-426 – the most inhospitable planet in the universe…and that’s the good news

A look at Aliens: Colonial Marines thus far

Game: Aliens – Colonial Marines
Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: SEGA/Twentieth Century Fox

More entertaining than: Alien vs. Predator 2: Primal HuntACM

Less Entertaining Than: Left 4 Dead

Pros:
-Solid action experiences
-Seamless controls
-Challenging environments
-Great weapons and upgrades
-Fun co-operative mode and multiplayer capabilities (especially ‘Survivor’ mode)

Cons:
-Outdated graphics
-Occasional temperamental AI
-Many multiplayer features limited to the internet

Rating (out of ten): 7

After quite a long wait, Aliens Colonial Marines has now been released on PC, XBOX 360 and PS3 on the 12th of February 2013.

A First Person Shooter with a single player and co-operative campaign, along with additional multiplayer battles, ACM (Aliens Colonial Marines) picks up 18 weeks after the events of James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’. After the beginning of Alien 3, in which Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks and Newt were ejected from the USS Sulaco due to an alien occupation, the ship has mysteriously made its way back over the planet LV-426.

After a distress signal is sent from the craft, a squadron of Colonial Marines are sent to investigate the source of the distress call and evaluate the threat. After the original team sent on board the vessel goes dark, Winter, the character who the player takes control over is sent on board the vessel to find out what is going on.

This however, is by far, no means an ordinary situation. With the horrific Xenomorphic menace running about the ship, the marines find themselves in the middle of an all out war. The Aliens are on one side of the field, and the ruthless Weyland-Yutani Corporation is on the other, the marines being caught in-between these two opposing forces in a fight to the death.

The age old Aliens tag-line was ‘in space, no one can hear you scream’. This may be true for ACM, but the saying could be altered to ‘in space, help is only ever a few hundred billion light years away’ because in this battle, the marines – they are very much on their own.

ACM is an incredibly action oriented game, with your finger more often than not being placed firmly on the trigger as you blast your way through an unrelenting amount of enemy forces.

‘Solider’, the average difficulty setting is a good recommendation, as the game is incredibly challenging. Attacks by both the Weyland Corporation and that of the dreaded aliens are unbelievably potent. A single swipe from an alien can decimate your armour and cut through your health like a knife through butter.

Your health is comprised of three bars, and as long as a bar is not completely decimated it will automatically recharge over time. Health packs are scattered about the maps (albeit very rarely) to once more replenish all the health slots that have disappeared. On top of this you are able to collect armour which can provide you with a limited amount of protection. As long as you are wearing armour though, your health will not be affected.

Ammunition too is located about the maps, and can be found in great packs or in small allotments, with human opponents on occasion dropping either magazines or small pieces of armour to help restore what you have lost.

All the aliens drop is acid, and it is recommended that you do not waltz through this.

In game, you can carry a side arm, grenade and two weapons; a primary and a secondary. Over the course of the game you will unlock more weapons as you ascend to higher ranks, and will even have access to upgrades to further empower your weaponry.

Every time you go up another rank (after killing a lot of bad guys) you are given a single skill point that you can put towards an upgrade. There are several upgrades you can purchase, but only one from every area available to you. This can include scopes; extra rounds in your magazines; an alternate secondary fire on your weapons; a mechanism to reduce the kick back on your guns, etc. Safe to say, these are very beneficial.

There are some pretty amazing weapons in the game as well. You begin with a couple grenades, a regular hand gun, pulse rifle and a pump action shotgun, but will quickly be granted access to the Assault Rifle, which is a real beauty, and Hicks’ shotgun. Along the way, you are able to acquire specialised weapons from the ‘Aliens’ movie to further assist you, these weapons having an additional punch which will efficaciously aid you in combat. As you progress forward furthermore, additional armourments will become accessible.

In game, the controls are seamless, and are very easy to adjust to. Controls respond well to your commands and after a few quick minutes you will have already mastered them, even if the game insists on showering you with an over abundance of tutorials.

Graphically, ACM is nothing special to write home about. The last time Gearbox used the Unreal Engine in one of their products, the end result was Duke Nukem Forever, and we all know how that catastrophe turned out. ACM is nothing like that, but in comparison to recent game titles the likes of Dead Space 3 and Halo 4, the graphics appear outdated and incredibly bland.

Bodies of the dead can fall into the floor and into pieces of the environment, the likes of crates and walls, and on occasion even enemies can partially be hidden inside of them. On occasion I would find an enemy, human and alien, with half of its body stuck inside a sealed door.

The environment is frequently dark to further enrich the themes of the game, which additionally assists in camouflaging the alien menace.

There is one particularly spooky part where you are forced to traverse through darkened sewers without any weapons on your person, where blind aliens, heinously injured from the blast at the end of James Cameron’s film have come to reside. Instead of using their eyes to locate you, they use their sense of hearing, which is unbelievably meticulous. If this is not enough, they randomly walk about the environment, and are prone to stop suddenly, their bodies often blending in with the bodies of their fallen brethren, so you have no way of telling which are alive – and which are dead.

The AI of the aliens is not half bad, and you will often see them running along all surfaces, only to jump at you unexpectedly, causing an unbelievable amount of damage in the process. Up close you are able to push enemies back, and if this is done successfully you will find a good distance between you and them, and when combating aliens you can freely fire without fear of having acid slashing across your body.

The aliens in general will constantly keep you on your toes, and the additional number of varieties will often have you adapting to the particular situation you find yourself in. For instance, large aliens, reminiscent of the Praetorian’s one had to face in the AVP games force you to utilise different weapons in order to bring them down.

Another thing to note is that the Face Huggers are even more annoying than their fully grown brethren. After bursting forth from an egg, these annoying little bastards are often so small they are difficult to see in the environment, and when they pounce you have a limited time to hit the required button to throw the monster off before it injects you with its ‘baby’, all the whilst reducing your health and armour count as you attempt to fight it off.

The human opponents moreover that you face will take cover, throw grenades and attempt to flank you, and their use of turrets will additionally challenge you as you attempt to flank them to bring the weapons systems offline.

Your team however operates a little differently. For one, they are invulnerable to harm (unless the game wants them to die), so you never need to worry about their wellbeing. They will frequently run out into the open and get themselves shot to hell without a care in the world. They will frequently get in your way and on occasion push you out of theirs so you can be shot at by the enemy – very nice of them.

On top of this, your team walk incredibly stiffly, almost as though they have something rammed up their arse, and if that’s not enough, when they aren’t taking pot shots at the enemy, they are dancing with them. On a couple of occasions when going up against Weyland Corporation troops, I noticed my team run right over to them, in which the marines and the Weyland boys began to shuffle awkwardly around each other as though they had no idea whose side they were on or what they were supposed to be doing.

Safe to say they do not often operate like stereotypical marines, and although I have no professional militarised training, I can say with little doubt that I do not believe trained military specialists would rush into an area that had not yet been cleared, or would run into rooms whee potential enemies might reside without any backup. They also wouldn’t run on ahead or stay behind, and inevitably lead you to, on occasion, fighting off a horde of aliens on your lonesome.

However, the unique personality of each team member and the conversations they often instigate will more often than not make you forget about many of the hiccups that occur in game. There’s one moment where a team member asks ‘where do these stairs lead?’ when entering a compound you have never been to before, and another repliers with ‘how are we supposed to know?’

Moving onto the multiplayer features of the game, unless you have an internet connection, you will be limited only to the co-operative play mode. When playing co-operative play, in a local game (split screen, et al), two players can make their way through the campaign, whereas online, up top four players can march on through the game. Online multiplayer battles consist of four unique game modes which includes:
-Extermination: Marines and Xenomorphs clash in battle. The marines try to take out alien egg clusters, and the aliens try to stop them.
-Escape: Marines must escape through Xenomproh infected territory. The fastest team to make their way through wins.
-Survivor: Marines must face wave after wave of aliens until the time limit expires.
-Team Deathmatch: Self explanatory.

In conclusion: Aliens Colonial Marines will satisfy your insatiable appetite for action, violence and an incredible fun military hardware, however, by the end, you will be left with a desire for more.

Haddaway don’t wanna be hurt no more – funnily enough, neither do I…Valentine’s Day: Is it a Gift; a Curse, or an Unnecessary Risk

 

Quintessentially, Valentine’s Day is an annually celebrated occasion about the discovery and celebration of love. The occasion however leaves no room for any alternate conceptions on the subject of romance. Please, allow me to explain…There are many notions on how there is somebody out there for each of us. There is another idea which dictates for every person is seven possible paramours, and you simply need to find one of them for eternal happiness. To believe in such romantic ideologies however, one must then acknowledge the opposite believe. This is the same for religion – if one believes in a Heavenly paradise awaiting us on the other side, then a fiery Hell must additionally be something that an individual with religiously spiritual views believes in. What I mean is – if one believes there is someone out there for everyone, then they must also believe that some people are simply destined to be alone. Valentine’s Day however does not leave room for such a belief, and for those who are destined to make their way through life without anyone by their side, Valentine’s Day makes that eternal suffering all the more difficult to live through.

I have always wondered why Valentine’s Day is such an important occurrence which takes place annually in our society. Christmas, Easter – these are primarily religiously oriented occurrences and so it makes sense that these would be celebrated. Birthday’s too are a celebrative occurrence which annually recognises one’s birth into this world. Anniversaries of partners and married couples I also believe have merit because this is a personal interaction between two people who love each other and are celebrating yet another year together. Remembrance Days additionally enable us the time to remember those who died patriotically to defend our shores, and although those who personally lost loved ones remember daily, those that have not lost relatives to the wars sometimes take their liberties for granted, and these specific days remind them of the tremendous sacrifice it takes to protect a country from barbarity.

Which of course brings me to Valentine’s Day. Now I am no zealous monster who has purposely singled out Valentine’s Day because I am waging a personal vendetta against love, and I am not doing so because I had a bad experience on such a ‘romantic’ occasion. I am doing so for the sole reason because I believe it is actually a little, how do I phrase this, ah, yes – pointless.

To be perfectly honest, not once have I ever had a Valentine; nor have I ever been someone’s Valentine. Reading this post, perhaps you will develop your own reasons as to why. Whenever I have been involved with a certain young woman during any Valentine’s Day, we have simply proceeded as though it is just an ordinary day. True, I have always insisted on taking my partner at the time to a fanciful restaurant or something of reminiscent beauty, but I’ve never made a big deal out of it like some other people do.

Now, perhaps you think I’m a hypocrite – I say I don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day – yet in the past I’ve taken my then partners out to dinner – does that not mean I am acknowledging the event? Well, I fear if I had not taken my then partners out, that they may have become my ex-partners sooner rather than later due to my inability to do such a thing, whilst all of their friends spent the day been pampered by their lovers. Basically, I would do so to keep the woman who had stolen my heart happy, unlike others who simply go outrageously over the top.

Which brings me to the reason as to why I write this post.

Why have Valentine’s Day? I have asked this before, but really, why? Think about it; you love somebody with all of your heart – why do you need one day of the year to tell them; to show them how much they mean to you. Do you not convey to them that they mean the whole world to you all the other 364 days of the year (365 in a Leap year)?

Why would you wait for that one occasion to be tragically romantic? Why wait for that one day to buy your lover a huge bouquet of flowers? A big box of chocolates? A card outlining your undying feelings? A poem about a romance everlasting? A night at a luxurious restaurant?

If you really love somebody, do you not show them on a daily basis how much they mean to you? Are you expected to show them how much you love them on Valentine’s Day, and every other day of the year simply pretend they do not exist?

Why do people need an excuse to be genuinely romantic, which is what Valentine’s Day is – a reason to not be afraid to show your feelings. Is that not an insult – is not Valentine’s Day making the implication that people in general are too frightened of commitment and romance that we all need a twenty four hour window to be stupid in love? Why can’t we be like that any day? Every day? In fact, aren’t we?

So, what makes Valentine’s Day so special? We still love the people we fell for just as much as we do on every other occasion. Our feelings do not miraculously change overnight, do they? We do not become any more romantic, but we certainly do not become any less.

Negatively speaking, for those of us come Valentine’s Day who are either single, just making our way out from a bad break-up, have not had a partner in a few years or who have as much chance of having a ‘Valentine’ as they do of ever going to the planet Jupiter, Valentine’s Day is nothing more than an unnecessary in your face reminder that we are hopelessly alone. As we watch those who are happily enjoying the occasion with the one’s they love, we are again reminded that we do not have the opportunity to present anyone with such affection, and we are moreover reminded that there is nobody out there who at that very moment romantically cares about us.

What is your opinion?

Am I simply an angry young man who should shut up, get laid, and quit writing annoying posts like this?

Am I partially right, but at the same time wrong, and Valentine’s Day is actually a special occasion because people in fact do need an excuse to be stupid and foolhardy in love?

Am I so amazingly correct that I should be granted a Pulitzer for what I have written here?

Or is there something else that you might like to add?

By all means, have your say – or don’t, entirely your prerogative.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. I may not be its biggest fan, but I am in no way suggesting that others should simply not bother acknowledging it on my account.

Have a great day!

Hey Ma! Good news! Apparently, I’m a Liebster Blogger!

liebster-award

I would like to thank Reviews and Rants (http://mandarox.wordpress.com/) for the Liebster Blogger award. Really appreciate it.

So, let’s get cracking!

Apparently, there are four rules when receiving this award…Question – do you really think there is a person out there whose mandate it is to ensure these rules are followed? I don’t think we’re gonna suddenly find ourselves locked up in a cell if we don’t follow one of the rules, are we?

1: Thank the person who awarded you the Liebster award and link back to their page

2: Answer the eleven questions your nominator has developed. Post eleven random facts about yourself, and then develop a further eleven questions for eleven nominees who have 200 followers or less (this rule I broke. Some of my nominees do fit the requirement, but most of my followers/people I am following are awesome and have hundreds of thousands of followers – but I enjoy what they write so I gave it to them anyway. I know, I’m a horrible person! I ought to be purged from society!)

3: Alert your eleven nominees of the award

4: Post the award on your site

Now, for the 11 questions I was asked:

One: If you could choose between knowing every language fluently or being able to play every instrument perfectly, which would you choose?

I used to be in a band, however, I have not played an instrument in what feels like a lifetime, and I don’t at present own any instrument. My point is that learning how to meticulously play every instrument would be rather pointless for me at present.
On the other hand, when I was younger, I used to have this avid fascination that I would like to perhaps be some kind of secret agent when I was older (the mind of a child is often a delusional thing – in my case at least), and one way to be an expert spy with a licence to kill would be to expertly know every language in the world to actively assimilate into alternate cultures and communicate with professional affiliates to avoid suspicion and ensure successful promulgation of the mission.

Two: What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Alternately, if you don’t read, what’s the best movie you’ve ever seen? Or answer both, if you want.

Believe it nor not, my favourite book may very well be the short story anthologies by Andrew Daddo. Upon reading his short story collections, these really helped inspire me to want to write my own pieces of short fiction, and additionally, the general life issues which his central character Fergus experienced seemed, at the time, relatable to what had transpired in my life.
Moreover, my favourite film would have to be not just one, but a collection of six feature films; the Star Wars franchise.

Three: What animal would you say you’re most like?

It would probably be a toss-up between a clam and a shark. Now true, I’m not as strong as shark (but there was that one time when I lifted a car right over my head (it was a Hot Wheels Sedan)), but like the stereotypical shark, I am often happy with my own company and I have the tendency to also become quite vicious when provoked.
Moreover, I’m like a clam because on occasion I am an open book – but more often than not I am closed – indefinitely.

Four: What type of music do you listen to? Rock, orchestral, pop? And who’s your favourite band/composer/singer?

I genuinely listen to pop and rock, and I especially enjoy music from the eighties. My favourite singer of all time would have to be Don Henley. Ever since I heard his song ‘Boys of Summer’ back in the mid nineties on the radio I have had a fascination with the music he used to perform. All of his songs are about life and love, but deep down they have entrenched themes of other varieties, which include political agendas and views and values that he held dear.
My second favourite band, btw, would probably be Daughty, because many of their songs not only have amazing use of instruments, but additionally, the messages in some of the songs are not only powerful, but very easy to relate towards.

Five: What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

I could answer this, but there might be children listening in.

Six: Do you have any pets? If so, what are they? If not, do you want any?

In the past I have had a cat (Simba) and a dog (Sheena), but not at the moment, no. I have considered bringing another pet into my life, however I have had my heart broken many times already over the past few years without deliberately entering into a relationship where I will eventually have to say goodbye to my best and most treasured friend. Eventually I’ll be ready for such a commitment, but not today.

Seven: What would you prefer; money or love?

Well, money would be advantageously beneficial, no doubt about that; yes indeed, yummy, yummy! However, funnily enough, I’m probably going to go with love. Why’s it funny? Well, I’m not saying anything here that I haven’t before; I haven’t’ had a girlfriend in three years and to be perfectly honest with you I have actually become quite accustomed to, you know, being sad and alone. In fact, I’ve become so accustomed to the loneliness that I have gone so far as to plan accordingly in case I spend the rest of my life like this. But even with that said, love is the preference that I’ll choose. Without love, people in general are incapable of feeling pleasurably positive emotions, and so become void, zealous monsters. Now, I could have all the money in the world, but it wouldn’t help me emotionally, and I have an idea of what kind of monster I’d turn out to be without positive emotions in my life, and I’d probably make the Hulk look like a choir boy, so, yeah, long story short, going with love.

Eight: What’s your favourite quote?

I have always feared the day when someone far more intelligent than I would develop this question for me to answer. I do not have a favourite quote; not from any revered historic individual, nor from a fictional text.

Nine: What is/was your favourite and least favourite subject at school? Why?

My favourite subject in high school would have been English, especially my year twelve class. I found the subject to be very entertaining because although we were in our final year, the class seemed a lot more open and fun than before, and we were able to explore many different avenues in our studies that had previously not been open to us.
My least favourite subject would had to have been mathematics, hands down. In year eight, the subject began to deteriorate into algebra and other complicated equations which I am unable to process.

Ten: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Well, if the chicken happens to be like any of the women I have asked out over the past three years, it did so to get away from me as fast as it possibly could, before running, in the words of an old limerick, over the hills and far away.

Eleven: If you had one day to live, what would you spend it doing?

To anyone reading this answer – prepare to be very disappointed! If I had only one day left in my life’s calendar, I’d probably spend it playing video games. At least when I croaked, I’d do so doing something that I enjoyed.

Now, for the eleven random facts about myself:

–          I live in Melbourne Australia, although come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I mention this in my ‘about’ section (you can just tell I’m dragging the bottom of the barrel here, I really haven’t the foggiest what to write!).

–          In 2012 I completed my undergraduate Bachelor of Communication course, majoring in Professional Writing at Victoria University. This year I am commencing my Masters degree at Melbourne University, majoring in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing.

–          Been the avid video-gamer that I am, this year there are several titles I intend to buy over the course of the coming year, including Aliens: Colonial Marines, Crysis 3, Gears of War Judgment, Bioshock Infinite, Fuse, Remember Me, and perhaps (if the following three games are released in the coming year) Destiny, Doom 4 and Singularity 2.

–          Although a lot of people I follow on WordPress enjoy reading as a pastime, I have not read for fun since I was fifteen years old. At the time I began to read books mandatory for my course, and the additional surplus of homework began to get to me. My infatuation with video games took over many of my other hobbies, and the requirements of work, along with keeping fit whilst attempting to maintain a social life inevitably left me with little time to read and at the end something just had to give.
On top of this I began to write more often, beginning with short story collections and then into novels (although none have ever been published), and I began to focus more so on developing my own books rather than reading the works of more talented writers than myself. Many people could have potentially worked around this schedule – apparently, I ain’t one of ‘em.

–          My favorite gaming platform is the XBOX 360. I find the controller and the general graphical performance of games on the system to be far more impressive than the other available platforms. I used to be a regular PC man myself, but since the system basically requires you to update it every couple years if you wish to keep playing games, it seemed too much of a hassle. I still have a computer (purchased back at the start of 2011) but I do not use it as often as I used to.

–          I frequently change the hair style on both my face and atop of my head. I have grown my hair long, I have had it average and I’ve even gone skinhead. I have additionally dyed my hair on several occasions, and have used almost every colour you can imagine (besides pink, black and brown (pink is not stereotypically a masculine colour, and my hair is naturally dark, so using darkened dye is worthless)). As for my face, I have grown a beard, a moustache, chops, and currently have a moustache and goatee.

–          -I prefer written communication rather than oral, and if given the opportunity to e-mail a certain someone, I would rather do that than communicate in person or over the phone. It’s not that I’m anti-social, but for some reason I have always been better at conveying my message literally than I ever have verbally.

–          In the past I have travelled to America, and have temporarily holidayed in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and Hawaii. Closer to home; I have travelled to New Zealand, and have additionally been to Sydney and Brisbane.

–          When it comes to geography, I am absolutely pathetic. Whatever you do, do not ever ask me for directions, I once became lost making my way from my front door to my bedroom.

–          I have, and continue to work part time as an editor and proofer.

–          Since I was fifteen years of age I have had to endure some kind of insomnia (I don’t really know what the professionals call it) and I only manage to acquire a couple hours of sleep every night. Hell, some nights I don’t even sleep at all. Can on occasion be a little disconcerting.

The eleven questions for my nominees:

Question One: If you wish to share, please, explain why you chose to originally begin blogging?

Question Two: Is there someone that you admire? A family member; a friend; a celebrity; a member of government; a notable historical individual, et al? Who is this certain someone, and what is it about them that you admire?

Question Three: Say you are going on a trip – could be for business; could be a vacation – entirely your prerogative. Apart from your clothes and any other obvious personnel utensils necessary for trips and such, what are some of the things that you personally cannot go anywhere without?

Question Four: You are suddenly bestowed with the ability to become, for an entire week, a character of your choice, from any book, film, television series or theatrical production. Who do you choose to become, what will you do over the course of the week, and why?

Question Five: Hypothetically, imagine a unique contagion has spread across the world. The next thing you eat, whether it be a chocolate bar or a piece of broccoli; a slice of meat or a piece of pie; you will inevitably turn into this piece of food. For instance, just say you ate a chocolate bar – a few hours later you will turn into a life sized bar of chocolate; however, you will still retain your head, arms and legs. For dignity’s purposes, you can still wear clothes – although I don’t know how a person who ate a spider will go attempting to fit into a pair of trousers. Now, there is no cure, so you will remain as this piece of food for the rest of your life.
You eat something, not knowing of the contagious viral outbreak. What do you eat? Hypothetically, why did you make this choice?
For those who are daring, on top of the prescribed question above, not only are you turned into a piece of food, but you can only eat food from the group that you have become. For instance, a person turned into a piece of fruit, can only eat fruit. A person turned into a vegetable, can only eat vegetables. A person who becomes a potato chip can only eat potatoes, salt and artificial preservatives. A person who becomes a block of chocolate can only eat chocolate, dairy and sugar. If you don’t eat from these food groups – well let’s just say that is not in the rules! (tee hee!) Do you maintain your original choice in what food you eat and inevitably become, or have you changed your mind? If so, what do you wish to become instead and why?

Question Six: Do you play video games? (I am not talking about Angry Birds here; I’m talking about First Person Shooters, Third Person Action Games, Real Time Strategy, Role Playing Games and Massive Multiplayer Online, etc). If not, do you understand the world of video games? Do you understand why many men have an avid fascination with gaming, or do you think gaming in general is a stupid and immature waste of time and money?

Question Seven: A vile antagonist just insulted you! That rat bastard! How do your proceed? Do you walk away, avoiding the situation altogether and hope nothing more comes of it? Do you calmly attempt to deescalate the situation by explaining to the individual that you do not wish for there to be any confrontation? Or do you clench your fist and bonk this person on the nose, making Chuck Norris look like the second greatest action hero in comparison to you? Perhaps you could do a combination of all three? Or perhaps you have an alternate suggestion? What are your thoughts? Or you could always avoid this question entirely because the man who wrote it is obvious deranged.

Question Eight: Is there one country you have not travelled to yet but really wish to see? What is this country and why do you wish to go there? What might you do over the course of your stay there?

Question Nine: After a huge economic recession, you find that the only job you are able to acquire is at a touring circus. However, life ain’t all bad because you quickly discover that you have a unique talent. What is this talent of yours, and what stage name will you go by to market yourself during the show?

Question Ten: Do you know any good jokes? Do you care to share the funniest joke that you know?

Question Eleven: It’s Monday morning. You get up, have breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth and enjoy a stereotypically natural experience at work. Upon arriving back home later that day, you discover a peculiar triangular shaped gift wrapped in sparkling purple wrapping paper has been left for. Before you even have the opportunity to open the strange and unexpected present, you hear a tapping at the door, and move towards the front entrance, with your present in tow, to see who it could be. Opening the door, you look upon who was gently tapping. ‘Oh my’ you say…Who is at the door, and what is it they require? Better yet, what is inside that oddly shaped package?

Special Bonus Question (cuz you’re awesome and you know it): Do you often spend your time answering ridiculous questions like these, or is this strictly a one off occasion?

My eleven nominees (in alphabetical order)

Brittany
http://allworldissues.com/

Domestic Majestic
http://agirlsguidetoagamerguy.wordpress.com/

Michele Seminara
http://micheleseminara.wordpress.com/

Ms. Jodi Ambrose
http://jodiambroseblog.com/

Our Consciousness
http://ourconsciousness.wordpress.com/

PM
http://prinsesamusang.wordpress.com/

Songs of Serendipity
http://songsofserendipity.wordpress.com/

The Asphalt Journal
http://theasphaltjournal.wordpress.com/

Tiger Groves
http://tigergroves.wordpress.com/

Valarie
http://valerieloveswriting.wordpress.com/

Zen Scribbles!
http://zenscribbles.wordpress.com/

Again, thank you to Reviews and Rants (http://mandarox.wordpress.com/) for the Liebster Blogger award.

Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

Lock up your kittens and put on some mittens, cuz it’s gonna get very cold in the dead of space

Review of Dead Space 3

Developer: Visceral
Publisher: EA
Release Date: 7th February 2013

More Enjoyable Than: The Thing

Not as Enjoyable as: Dead Space 2

Pros:
-Beautiful graphics and environments
-Incredibly dark and atmospheric
-Amazing weapon customisations and combos
-Enjoyable co-op experience

Cons:
-Story and characters require further development
-Limited enemy AI
-New aspects don’t necessarily have consistent ‘Dead Space’ feel

NOTE: Please excuse my laziness if I sometimes use shorthand – DS3 stands for Dead Space 3!

Dead Space 3 continues a few months after the events of the second game. Earth Gov forces are on the verge of complete eradication by the Unitoligists, the religious fascists who worship the unholy Markers that spawn the hellish alien menace which has plagued our hero, Isaac Clarke, since the beginning of the series. Joining him on this mission is a team, consisting of Dead Space 2 heroine Ellie Langford, and newcomer Robert Carter, along with an assortment of others.

Carter’s significance in the story is pertinent; for it is he that another player will take control over whilst in co-operative play. For a man who still has a beating heart within his chest, his character has about as much life in him as a piece of broken glass, and often he and Isaac find themselves clashing heads in both the single player campaign, and in co-operative play, which I will discuss later.

The first seven chapters of the game are set in outer space, and provide the same feel as the previous games did when on the USS Ishimura in the original, and on Titan Station in the sequel. From chapter eight onwards, you experience the game on the alien world of Tau Volantis. Once presided over by small groups of humans during the wars, the planet has many rundown buildings which are in need of power, which adds to the overall feel of the aged environment. The decadent skeletal remains of fearsome beats that once roamed the land makes the past of such a world even more disturbing, but not so much as the fact that this is the planet where the horrifying Markers were conceived; and thus, in theory, can be the planet where the disaster can be concluded.

For those who have not played the previous titles, you needn’t worry, for a ‘previously on DS3’ begins to play the moment you select your difficulty, and can be viewed again in the ‘extras’ menu. However, whether you have played the prior games is basically irrelevant for the game can often feel considerably different when in contrast with its predecessors, especially when in comparison with its story.

The game plays more like the original Dead Space rather than the sequel. Like the first game, you often repeat certain sections on a frequent basis as you make your way through them again and again as to complete objectives scattered all about the environment, unlike in the second game.

The story in itself furthermore whilst on the subject, is actually quite peculiar. From the beginning, Visceral shows its audience that after the second game, Isaac and fellow character Ellie Langford began a relationship together. At the beginning of DS3 though, the relationship has officially collapsed, and as Isaac puts it; people are often attracted to those who are broken because they believe they can fix them; in his case, he is irreparably damaged and is beyond help.

Isaac is quickly revealed to still have strong feelings for Ellie, even though they are no longer romantically involved, and it is later found that he is unfortunately caught in a heinous love triangle with Ellie and another character. With the almost immediate announcement of this occurrence in the early stages of the game, one would have assumed that this could have been easily built upon over the course of the campaign.

However, for the most part, the game plays as though there are no romantic attachments whatsoever. Unlike in the previous two instalments where Isaac was haunted by the ghostly aspiration of his then girlfriend Nicole, which heightened the emotive and terrifying realities of the story, DS3 appears to more often than not pretend that no emotion connections are taking place over the course of the story at all. On many an occasion when Ellie and Isaac are communing over radio or in person, there is plenty an opportunity for romanticised ideologies to be discussed, but more often than not Isaac appears to attack Ellie judging by the way he verbally conveys his sentences. A great example of this appears at the end of the seventh chapter.

On the rare occasion when emotions are briefly discussed, they are thrown in as though Viscreal entertainment felt that they were literally forced to put them into the conversation, rather than wishing to convey such emotional, passionate dialogue to its audience. Long story short – nothing ever really flows. This ultimately makes the relationships, at best, feel odd – if not fake, and even when that rare occasion does occur, the dialogue is clumsy and stumbles pathetically across the subject as though with child gloves.

Another example of this is of course the crew that joins Isaac on this horrifying adventure. With the introduction of so many new faces, you might imagine that somewhere within the story you might find out a little about them? Wrong! Apart from catching their names near the start, any personal history fails to be brought to life, and the only thing you, the player will come to conclude is that most of the crew inexplicably hates your rotten guts – and you never exactly learn why. Funnily enough, the only person who seems to care about Isaac is his ex, and judging by the previous paragraphs you get the gist of my opinion on that relationship.

In fact, the only person you learn anything about with the exception of the lead protagonist and heroine is Robert Carver. At the beginning of the game it is mentioned that his wife and son were killed by the Unitoligists, and apart from that one mention, it is never brought up again fro the duration of the game. If Visceral decided to open the door about a certain character’s past, would it not have proven effective to discuss it later in full?

Basically, it just seems odd that Visceral open the door for relationships and past lives to be discussed, and yet fail to openly discuss them, and thus are left with a wasted opportunity to further enrich the development of the central characters.

As per previous Dead Space titles, the third game in the franchise utilises marvellously terrifying sounds impeccably, with the roars of monsters and the grunting of mechanics blasting through the walls around you. The sound of a ventilation shaft exploding open puts you on edge as you look through the darkness in the hopes of spotting your enemy before it discovers you. The sound of enemies coming towards you is as gruesome as ever, causing endless shivers to run down your spine. Even the sound instigated by the sudden activation of a pinball machine of all things caused me to jump several feet out from my chair from the raucous noise it produced, my head slamming into the ceiling above me.

There are of course some new changes to the game, the first of which being the saving process – the game has an auto-save function, and half the time you are more likely not to notice the saving icon in the corner than you are to have your attention drawn to it. In this sense if you ever happen to perish, more often than not you will find yourself shuffling your feet and biting your nails as you attempt to fathom where you might reload from, because in DS3 the game has full control over where it decides to save your progress. This is very different from the previous titles, where you could save the game whenever you liked – as long as you found a save station located within the maps.  With this method at your disposal, you could kill a room full of bad guys without taking any damage, proudly save your progress and continue forwards. In DS3, this availability is no longer an option to you.

Additionally, not all missions that take place across the game are mandatory, with optional missions for you to complete as you progress, which can have advantageous beneficiations if you choose to take them.

Moreover there is a new assortment of bad guys for you to pulverise. One new enemy in particular, who happens to be the first enemy you encounter, is the Shambler, who is much unlike the monster in the original Quake with the same name. This particular bad guy is more like a conventional zombie with yellow eyes, who will shamble towards you (hence the name) with any weapon they can find at their disposal, from axes to machineguns, in an attempt to inflict pain. A unique aspect of this particular bad guy is that by cutting off either the top most portion or lower most part of its extremities, they will immediately be replaced b y three tendrils. It really is quite a sight the first time you see a pair of legs running about with a spinal cord, accompanied with two other tendrils on either side waving about in the air in an attempt to slap you with.

Like Gears of War 3 and Resident Evil 6, there is always the chance of having something else eject itself out from the body to replace what you hacked off, with several enemies going through a number of stages before being officially rendered dead – again, since all Necromorphs are literally undead hordes.

Another new monster is the feeder, and you will have to find out for yourself why this terrifying pack hunter gets its name, and of course, there is the gargantuan snow behemoth that you are hunted by for a considerable portion of the game before engaging in open battle with.

Moreover, the moth creatures from the games predecessors which spread the seed of decay by injecting their evil into the heads of their vessels are no longer a part of the franchise. Instead, small bugs will often appear, and these burrow into the brains of the deceased and take them over at an alarming rate, before on occasion jumping out from the body whilst it is been pulverised, only to infect others.

Apart from the expected monsters, the religious Unitoligists themselves have additionally taken up arms and make those terrifying Jehovah’s Witnesses look like a collection of choir performers. These new additions to the long list of enemies are hunting Isaac Clarke down, believing him to be the primary antagonist against their religion. Funnily enough, although they have dedicated themselves to praying to the Markers and the Necromorphs they spawn, this has not made them immune to the attacks of the undead, and on occasion it can be easier to simply let the two sides fight it out, and in the end just take out the stragglers that managed to survive.

The use of gun toting enemies adds a new flavour to the fight in DS3, and thus, due to this, Isaac has now been allowed the ability to crouch behind cover to avoid incoming fire, before returning it in kind.

Enemies will on top of this happily throw grenades in your direction, which you can toss back in theirs with the use of your telekinetic rig. Another addendum with regards to their grenades is the fact that they are by no means against taking their own lives, and much like the Grunt suicide squads in the Halo games, these guys will arm their explosive ordinance and then chase after you with a smile before detonating themselves when in close proximity.

Of course, just because the newly conceived human opponents throw grenades, flank your position and take cover does not necessarily mean they are endowed with an over abundance of brain power. As with the Necromorphs, the humans will have a proclivity to charge, which makes them easy opponents to dispatch, and the fact that the armour around their neck is not exactly impenetrable, means that decapitating them is more often than not a fun way of getting rid of these pesky cultists. Of course, this is adjunctively made easier by the fact that the top portion of the Unitoligist soldiers heads are always visible when behind cover, which makes them that much easier to terminate.

Enemies are not the only thing one needs to be wary of, with a number of sequences occurring over the course of the story where you need to hit the appropriate key or quickly move your character from left to right as to avoid imminent death. There is one particular moment where you must pilot a space craft through a whole horde of debris down towards the alien planet whilst at the same time blasting pieces of metal that are headed for your ship as to keep your crew alive. Moments like these are usually not that difficult to pass through, but will more often than not result in a number of cheap deaths.

Another part of the game which has completely changed is the undying need for minerals, which are scattered throughout the environments. Money is no longer a concern and does not appear in this particular title. No longer do you purchase items, but instead you create them from the range of minerals that you acquire. It does not matter if you are developing a new weapon to add to your arsenal, or are conceiving medical packs; everything requires a certain number of parts and pieces.
Minerals range from scrap metal, to tungsten and semiotic gel, just to name a few, and appear to be more difficult to recover than credits ever did.

In previous titles, the ability to find hard earned cash came as easy as breathing, however, when it comes to the minerals, you will often find that you on occasion discover a terrific amount of one particular variety, and a very sparse amount of another, which will inevitably cause you to continuously think carefully about what you want to create.

This task is however made easier by scavenger bots, which over the course of the game you have the luxury of collecting. These cute little guys automatically begin collecting samples of minerals upon deployment, and upon meeting their quota will terminate at a bench where you can collect their fill.
The use of sound efficaciously aids you in this task; an ominous beeping noise alerting you to particular stockpiles of minerals which will add considerable amounts to your tally and up build your supply unbelievably faster than you ever feasibly could.

Of course, the rarest mineral, and the most sought after would have to be tungsten, which is something you are physically unable to acquire until the first optional mission near the conclusion of the fourth chapter. Almost everything requires tungsten at either one stage of the developmental process, or all of them entirely, which means the discovery of it is unbelievably precious.

Another particular aspect of the game which has been altered is the ammunition. In previous Dead Space games, every gun ran on its own form of ammo, which meant that you would more often than not find plentiful amounts of one kind of ammunition, and lesser amounts of others, which could limit the number of weapons you inevitably used. In the third game, there is one unanimous ammo crate which can be collected, and this refills every weapon in your possession.

One thing you will never need to worry about in that sense is ammo. For a great portion of the game every weapon will have an ammo count of well in excess of three figures, giving you more leverage to shoot with little concern. The same could be said for health packs as well, with a sizeable amount of medium packs being a frequent delicacy through a majority of the game which can consequentially keep you alive for longer periods.

On the subject of ammunition, your weapons have also changed considerably, and not just in the ways that EA has frequently mentioned in their presentations on the game. In DS3, you can only hold two weapons at any given time rather than four like with previous instalments. However, since you can upgrade your weapons to basically become two separate tools of destruction in one, this addendum is barely worth mentioning.

With regards to the construction of your weaponry, this is an incredible improvement from the previous games in the series because you have a lot more room to do what you want rather than to do what the game wants you to. As long as you have the minerals, you can develop a line gun with an attached carbine; an incendiary grenade launcher with a force gun/shotgun; or if you are a fan of the plasma cutter, place an additional plasma cutter beneath your original; the options are yours and they are as limited as your imagination. If you can think it (and you have the parts) you can most certainly build it.

One issue with the development of weaponry however is that it is not quite as easy as the DS3 demo made it out to be. Those who either watched the demo online or participated in it personally would have noticed how unbelievably easy it was to discover parts and pieces for your weapons. This is not the case in reality, with parts been secretly hidden across the environment, and if this is not enough, the difficulty is made more so by the fact that the parts and pieces are incredibly limited and may on occasion take an extraordinary long duration to eventually find the one blueprint you were after all along.

On top of this, you can basically choose the way you intend to fight throughout the game. With the expansion of more engineering equipment and additional militarised weaponry, you can either wage war with military hardware or go at it the way you would have in the previous two instalments. At the beginning of the game Isaac is handed an SMG to accompany is plasma cutter, and you may choose to disregard whichever weapon you do not wish to have in your arsenal later on in exchange for what you believe will be your primary weapon. Some people will feel safer with a cutting tool, and others may feel safer with roar firepower – it is ultimately up to the prerogative of the gamer.

In previous games in the franchise moreover, the titles were all about surviving the Necromorph outbreak, but in DS3, the game is basically all about guns, guns and more guns, and your general lust to conceive as many as possible. For gamers such as myself, you may have originally believed that you would own a fabulously powerful weapon come the end of Chapter Five, and have the capacity to kill Lucifer, Iblis or whatever name your anti-god chooses to go by without so much as a bead of sweat dribbling across your forehead. As with the paragraph before, this is unfortunately not the case, and delivers quite the negative blow. By the time you make your way to a bench for the sixth or so time and still do not have in your possession the necessary minerals or parts to complete your dream weapon, if you are anything like me you may begin to feel just a little bit hopeless.

In regards to the graphics on another note, well, what can I say? Graphically, DS3 is flawless, and captivates you visually with its stunning environments; in space, aboard cruisers or on the icy planet itself, DS3 is graphically perfect from the very beginning.

Enemies appear greasy, with what looks to be bodily liquid coating every inch of their gory bodies. Smoke rises out from the sides of ships as the room pressurises and reacts to the dull thuds of the internal processors. The silky soft snow on the planet’s surface crunches beneath your feet, and you watch as pieces of fluffy snow coat your entire armoured suit, with footprints left in your wake from where you have stepped. The gorgeous coloration of the flashing computers and technological devices draws you further into the futuristic environment. The faces of characters are marvellously in-depth and captures more facial movements than ever before. The explosions which take place are gorgeous to comprehend, and the rising sun makes the environment seem even spookier with the blood red sky looking down on you like a demonic figurehead.

However, on that note, occasionally, especially when on the planet Tau Volantis, the environments can seem a little too large. In space, the corridors are thin and you frequently have little room to manoeuvre, which causes your enemies to press down on you, punishing you every time you get caught in a corner with barbaric attacks. On the ice planet though, you are granted a terrific amount of room, and sometimes the biggest fear is not that of the creatures, but that of getting lost. The snow pounds across the screen, and coats everything in a beautiful white foam, which fails to scream ‘evil’ the way the depths of space does.

With such a large portion of space available to you, you will often spot enemies coming, and before they can bridge the gap between them and you, their cadavers are lying upon the ground from the punishment you bestowed upon them.

On the subject of killing, the co-op mode that has been attached to the game is incredibly fun. One player is able to draw attention away from the other, which allows them to then get in those crucial shots to take the monsters out. Weapons are able to be traded to other players by sending them blueprints of the amazing pieces of hardware that you have created, and you never need to worry about health or items within the game either. Additional upgrades to weaponry can allow a health pack used by one character to miraculously heal the other, at no expense, and different items from the bodies of the dead show up on player’s screens so that never is there a confrontation on who gets what.

Additionally, with a character by his side, Isaac becomes incredibly more loquacious, as he and Carter share in their wins and talk about what is happening around them. More often than not they bump heads due to their conflicting personalities; Isaac being a veteran of knowledge in regards to the monsters and being basically a scientific engineer; whereas Robert is a full-fledged marine who frequently believes that more militarised actions need to be taken to ensure mission success.

On another note, the co-op is not a permanent fixture, unlike Firefight mode in Halo 3 ODST, in which if one player decides to drop out of the game, it immediately comes to a head. In DS3, if a player is having trouble getting past an area for instance, another player can drop in, help them out, and then drop out, the original player continuing onwards unimpaired.

The drawback of playing co-operatively is that the terror of the game is lessened due to the garrulous nature of the characters, which inevitably drowns out the terrifying sounds and heightened music which plays throughout the game. On top of this, since you are no longer alone, you never feel as though you might spontaneously lose because you always have back up to accommodate you in every situation, with the game automatically adjusting to configure itself to the co-op style game play.

In conclusion, Dead Space 3 does indeed bring back much of what made the original games so popular, but at the expense of story and characterisation. On occasion, the game may feel as though Visceral entertainment is trying desperately to fit in as much as possible into the game, which will take anywhere between 12 to 18 hours to complete. However, even with this said, the intense action sequences, weapon medications and spooky atmospheric conditions will no doubt provide you with plenty of enjoyment.

My opinion:

7.5/10

 

What is the Australian writing scene like today? Is there a bright future ahead of it? Or is its future shrouded in eternal darkness?

 

‘There has never been a better time to become involved in the writing industry in Australia.’

Those were the words that were once said to me by a lecturer at university back in 2011. Now, the comment made by this particular educational professional was very broad and did not take into account many existing factors. The comment did not make any reference to what genres or styles are at present most acceptably chosen by publishers. The comment also did not make any reference to the self-publishing industry.

Writing in general is also not the most economically powerful field in this country either. Less than five known Australian authors are involved in writing alone. All of the others have additional jobs, the likes of teaching and editing because they are unable to earn as much wealth from texts alone as they can from undertaking additional occupations.

Fact: In the past year, more books by self-published authors were sold in Australia than books published by professional publishing organisations. This statistic alone makes clear that there is considerable strain on publishers from self-published authors who are generating popular texts that the general public wish to read.

You can almost imagine that all those publishers who rejected manuscripts which have gone on to be self-published are shaking their heads in frustration in regards to all of the money they could have made from such writers.

Book establishments in Australia are drying up faster than our water catchments, but is that any reason to rationalise why the publishing industry has become so incredibly difficult to enter into? With the sudden expansion of e-readers and other like devices, you would imagine that publishing industries would be more willing to accept writers because of sites the likes of Amazon and Google that are making a fortune selling texts online. If people were having difficulty attempting to procure hard copies of texts, the simple and easy way to acquire these texts online should be having the opposite reaction than what it apparently is in Australia.

Moreover, the comment stipulated at the beginning of this post also did not take into account the factor that writers who have never been published find it incredibly difficult to have their first manuscript accepted. Publishers in general are unwilling to take risks on writers they do not know. Very few publishers accept work from unsolicited writers, many wishing for a literary agent to submit the work on the behalf of the individual writer. Literary agents have a significant amount of pull in the industry, and their general appreciation of one’s work holds significant merit in the industry.

Of course, just because you submit a manuscript to a literary agent does not instantly mean that your chances of being published automatically change for the better. Initially, one must enquire as to whether or not the literary agency wishes to receive their manuscript. If yes, in most cases they will only wish to receive a small portion. Then, upon reading what they received, if they like the piece they will then ask for the full manuscript, and if they like that, then and only then will the agency begin going through the process of looking for suitable publishers. Of course, it is then up to the publisher as to whether or not your text is successfully published – quite a fair few ‘ifs.’

On top of this, if you wish to acquire the help of a literary agent, it is best to consult them before you send your manuscripts to publishers. If you send your work to all of the publishing houses you can find, then consult a literary agent after you have been rejected by every publishing organisation available to you, then the literary agents will have no luck in helping you. Solicited work or not, publishing houses will not accept work they have previously rejected.

Today, Text Publishing, Sleepers and Puffin are three of only a few publishers willing to accept unsolicited work.

On top of this, there are only a few variants of work that publishers are often willing to consider. I was told back in 2010 that Sci-Fi and Fantasy are two of the greatest genres that one can write about because they can be broadcast to a large amount of people globally. That may be a fact, but most Australian publishers are interested only in contemporary fiction. In layman’s terms (I initially didn’t know what ‘contemporary fiction’ was), fiction that is set in the current time, basically 2013 to around 1960, bare maximum.

Science Fiction and Fantasy is very rarely looked upon with excitement by Australian publishers, and only a limited few literary agents are willing to accept such genres.

Additionally, short stories are also negatively viewed by the industry. In university, I was told how short stories are always going to be popular because unlike a novel that can take up to and over a week to complete, a short story can be read on a plane or a train ride, or even whilst waiting for a class, and can be completed in that short time frame which makes them very edible for readers wishing to digest some entertainment.

Apparently, neither the universities nor the publishing houses are in communication with one another, else lecturers and tutors would be explaining to their students something completely different than what they are currently telling them.

Unfortunately for me, it seems that I am one of those writers that decided to commit to the two styles of writing that are most unaccepted in Australia – short stories and science fiction. Even poetry is looked down upon like poison.

‘Very hard times in the (writing) industry full stop, but for short stories it’s a very dark time’ – those are the words used by a literary agent I contacted not a week ago when enquiring about a certain project of mine.

According to Text Publishing, and I am assuming this is the same for a majority of publishing houses in Australia, in the past they have had considerable trouble attempting to market short story collections and anthologies of poetry to the general public.

What I find most unappreciative in the publishing sector is that these rules on genres and styles only apply to unpublished writers. As soon as you have successfully had a text published, no longer do these rules regulate what you can have published. One example is the well known Australian author Andy Griffiths, who in 2010 had another short story collection published by Pan McMillan. Funnily enough though, Pan was expressly telling people on their sites and in their articles that they were no longer accepting short story collections. What they should be saying is this; we will not accept short story collections from anyone, unless you are a published writer and a known quantity in the industry. This double standard is unfathomably annoying and downright appalling for those of us wishing to become a part of the industry.

This would no doubt explain why self-publishing has become increasingly more popular over the last ten years. Now, I have nothing against self-publishing. In fact, everyday I think I am one step closer to just giving up on big publishing houses altogether and going at it on my own like a majority of other authors have.

However, I always enjoyed the idea of being picked up by a major publisher because of the advantageous benefits that would come from their publishing houses; they have access to PR professionals and marketers to help sell your text to a wide portion of the general public; the name of the publisher holds considerable merit; additionally, I always believed that one could garner more attention with a published text, or at least acquire more attention faster than if one were to go down the self-published track.

On top of this there are the editors who can professionally proof your work and make sure there are fewer errors. There are errors in every single book, but one might imagine there are fewer in a text published by a major publishing house. I myself may have in the past worked as an editor, yet even I do not have complete faith that I could find every spelling and grammatical error in my piece.

I guess at the end of the day it comes down to what one feels is most beneficial – if you self publish then you are in full control. You do indeed become published, but not in the stereotypical; sense of the word. Also, you are in control of your own promotions and need to put in your own money to have your manuscript published online. If you manage to attract the attention of a major publishing house on the other hand, you do not need to supply a dime, and all of the hard work is done on your behalf. However, at the end of the day, any literary agent will take between 20-30% of your profit when your text is signed to a publisher. The question remains – is being signed to a major publishing house so important that you will pass up the opportunity to self publish? Is being published by a major publisher really all that it is cracked up to be when self-published authors can be just as successful, if not even more so in some circumstances?

What are your opinions?

If you happen to live in Australia, do you agree with what I have written? What are your experiences with major publishing houses and literary agents?

If you happen to live outside Australia, what are your thoughts on the publishing industry in your countries? What are your experiences? Can you compare the publishing industry to Australia’s, or is it entirely different?