Finally, something to write home about…

What’s up everybody?

Yes, that’s right, I’ve finally gotten around to making another blog post. This time, I’m going to cover a lot of things since there has been a plethora of changes in my life as of late that I’m going to share with you.

The first – and arguably most important – of these is the fact that I left my job working in the Civil Service (quite a few months ago now, actually). However, since then I have also been preparing for what could be the most dramatic upheaval of my life since I went to university. Are you ready for this news of epic proportions? Probably, since it’s not that big a deal. I am going to Japan. Not just to visit, but to live and work in Japan for an entire year (provided I don’t totally fuck it up before my 6 month review). I’ll be living on the outskirts of Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture, near the mountains and merely an hour’s train ride away from where the majority of my books are set. As with most foreigners, I’m going out there to teach English, primarily to young children but also to teenagers and adults as well. It’s well paid, challenging work and I get to experience a culture I have been fascinated with since I was ten years old.

This is near where I’ll be living!

Fortunately for me, I have a reasonable handle on my Japanese and I have a friend living within a sensible distance who is fluent in Japanese and knows the main metropolis pretty well given that she has been working there for quite a few years now. It’s an adventure, and one I’ll be keeping track of right here on my website. Your support is, as always, most welcome.

The second bit of news is that in spite of me heading out to Japan in a few weeks time, I will be at least attempting to participate in NaNoWriMo. A double-figures duration flight will certainly help with adding to my word count, I’d wager. Naturally, it’s going to be set in my usual universe, and is actually going to be the first full draft of the sequel to Hikari.

The working title is Kagami (or ‘Mirror’) and follows a talented spy in an agency where she is the only person with no magical abilities whatsoever. It’s meant to be a little tense, a little funny and a good introduction to the magical systems of my little universe. I don’t want to write too much yet, because no doubt I would end up spoiling something, but I have plenty of ideas down and it should be fun to write.

I’ve also been overhauling some of the names and locations in my story as well, since some of them are relics of my original NaNoWriMo project, Industrial Espionage, which while still being based in what is essentially the same universe, played fast and loose with many silly tropes while attempting to be serious at the same time. I’ll be updating the information pages on the site to reflect this change.

In other news, I’ve been making the most of my opportunities to game since I won’t be able to ship my rig across to Japan (and I’m pretty down about the fact that I won’t be able play Fallout 4, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make). My main games have been Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Tales from the Borderlands.

I’ll talk about The Phantom Pain first. I’ve long been a fan of Metal Gear, ever since playing Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation, falling in love with its deep narrative and the contrast between the explosive action and intense stealth gameplay. This final offering from Hideo Kojima has received mixed reviews from gamers, but is no doubt a beautiful game. The open-world experience leaves a lot of room for creativity, reminiscent of the survivalist gameplay of MGS3 but without the tedium of constantly keeping up a stamina gauge. It’s frustratingly difficult at some points, forcing you to reconsider your entire approach to certain missions, but incredibly satisfying when you finally break the deadlock and complete the objectives.

I also really like the openness of choice when it comes to the development screen – because of the way I play MGS, I focused heavily on assault rifles and sniper rifles, particularly down the non-lethal path but also with the generic weapons. I was amazed by the level of customization that could be done with the assault rifles in particular, being able to switch out different parts and even change the types of rounds a weapon would use to increase range and penetration at the cost of total ammunition or vice versa.

Sure, it can be very cutscene/dialogue heavy at points and the opening credits for every single mission do get a tad tedious after you’ve done about 11, but it’s a wholly satisfying game and I have greatly enjoyed it.

My overall opinion of MGSV:TPP.

As for Tales from the Borderlands, it’s my first innings with one of Telltale Games’ offerings – not having been drawn in by the allure of The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones – and I am definitely happy I chose to purchase it.

It’s an interesting format, reminiscent of the classic Japanese visual novel style but with more actions in the form of the decidedly Western ‘quick time event’. I was quickly drawn into the story of the hapless Hyperion corporate stooge Rhys and his friend Vaughn and the con-artist sisters Sasha and Fiona, showing how easy it is to relate to these characters who live in the crazy fictional universe of Pandora.

The way the story escalates in its five episodes is really interesting, and attests to the skill of the writers behind the series – especially when you consider that it has numerous options and players quite obviously have different approaches to the game as evidenced by the percentage screen at the end of each chapter. I’d really recommend it if you’re a fan of the Borderlands series or you enjoy a good (if not slightly silly) story-based game.

*Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Paradox voice* “PWOTAGONIIIIST!”

But yeah, that’s about all I have time for in this update – don’t forget to like the post, comment the post and subscribe if you want to see more posts like this one. See ya.