Monday, 21 January 2019

Crossing to the New Life - Get the Shopping In! [Gaming]

There are a number of places that make up the towns of Animal Crossing, with shops being the main place to get items. With this planned Switch outing, I created a map that included a shopping district full of various shops and places, with the previous part of Crossing to the New Life looking at a few of those places.

Games Hire, Destinations, Favoured Fortunes, and the Arcade were talked about last time, with all four featuring connectivity in a big way. The shopping district features a lot more, though. Those places will be detailed here. The map of the shopping district is here again, so you don't need to refer to the last post.

And to start with, the two places that will start the shopping district off. The general store of Timmy and Tommy, with their uncle Tom at Nook’s Homes. Both have seen a bit of a change to reflect other changes within the game.

The general store now stocks something of every item category in the game. So why would you go to those other stores if everything is available here? Because there’s a 100% cost increase on every item on sale. So why would you go here once you have access to all the other stores? The lottery returns. For every 10,000 bells spent at the store, you’ll get a lottery ticket. At the end of every month, you can return those tickets to the store for a chance at winning some rare or even character exclusive items.

As for Nook’s Homes, it is now able to expand to include more designs. The themes available have increased, and for those basic themes you are now able to select from ten colours to paint it. The outside of the home isn’t the only place where customisation options have increased. Remember the interiors? Remember paying a mortgage to have to expand? Not any more. You pay for exactly what you want, with the ability to now have a custom layout across a 30x30 space. You’ll start off with a 5x5 space, and have to expand, with the custom layouts available from the 15x15 space.

The detail of that custom space is all dealt with by Nook, who you’ll talk to to access the room layout menu. With this extra ability, you can design the interior of your house to be as basic or as weird as you want. It doesn’t come cheap, with each piece of wall being 5000 bells [per space used], but it now allows those who really love designing their house to show off to friends an extra way to manage the space. And of course, don’t forget about the dream world you can make through Favoured Fortunes. Such expanded design options will come in real handy for those who go the extra mile, especially since wallpapers and floors can be spread in individual sections of the house now.

You might have been thinking about the 100% cost increase of those items unavailable elsewhere but at the general store, but that has been fixed. Leif’s Leaves holds the shovel, axe and watering can, along with a range of plants. As stated in the last post, Destinations has the fishing rod, bug net, and swimsuit. The post office gets writing paper. The slingshot and timer are available from Games Hire as items you keep. That just leaves the home décor.

New store Interior Antics is where to go for furniture, carpets and wallpaper. By being separate from the general store, more items can be displayed, with the carpets and wallpapers being on display as they would look in your house with signs giving name and price. This store will occasionally get a whole set together – displayed in a special area of the store that can only be bought as a whole package. No discounts if you already own part of the set.

The Museum now takes up three floors. The ground level hosts fossils, paintings, and exotic items [found on the islands you travel to with Destinations]. In the basement is the aquarium, with the insectarium on the top floor. The gift shop and custom exhibits have gone, since everything they offered are now elsewhere.

Gracie returns with her store and expensive items, along with adding a few more items to that collection. The Post Office remains much the same as it always has, aside from the addition of selling paper-based items. The Police Station once again acts as the lost and found and the best way to see if any special characters are hanging around.

Club LOL returns with KK Slider and Doctor Shrunk holding the fort once again. As ever, you can learn emotions from the good Doctor, though he once again returns to his comedy act on stage. KK is still doing his DJ act every night except Saturday nights – where he’ll once again play the songs he’s famous for. However, he’ll also head out of the club on occasion on these times for the fresh outdoors. He’ll be at the beach, lake, or train station’s café at these times.

The Able Sister’s shop sells everything clothing related, much as it has always done. It also features an upgrade. At first only Mabel manages the store with Sable at the sewing machine as always. The main priority will be tops and bottoms, though an accessory or footwear will show up a few days within the week. Labelle returns after an upgrade to bring more accessories into the store, with Kicks bringing a lot more footwear to the store. I had thought whether it would be wise to put Shampoodle in with the Able Sisters’ store, but there would be too much inside, so it has now separated into its own space.

All these places are sure to put a strain on the number of times you’ll be looking at things and visiting the various shops, which brings up a new way to shop. Just as you can sell items in bulk, you can now buy in bulk as well. When in a shop, just select an item to view its name and price, and decide to add it to the basket. Once you’ve browsed and added everything you want, just head to the store owner to buy it all. If you leave the store without doing so, you won’t have bought or stolen it, as it will all return to where it was.

Re-Tail, while not a part of the shopping district, is just as important. It’s the place where you sell things, and get furniture customised. And customisation, as has been told quite a bit, is a larger thing within this ideas haul of mine. With the power of the Switch, I’m confident there will be a greater focus on it – in all areas – and so the next Crossing to the New Life will be looking into the campsite and the town and the various ways to customise them.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Planning of the Alternate Halesowen and Beyond Series [Network]

The start of this series came on 7-February/2012 with just a single part of the first chapter added under the name of TV and Film Residential Camp, sharing the spotlight with Doctor Who: The Star Wars Chronicles. As the first original, you would have thought I’d have put a bit more thought into it, but just the same as the fan-created stuff, I was running on just a basic idea.

In reality, there was more than just the basic idea, as I’d had to create a world and characters on my own, rather than just borrowing from other franchises. However, much the same as that fan-created stuff, there was no serious planning put into it and I’d just be adding ideas into the story that I felt worked with what came before. The story itself needed more though. It needed a bit of proper planning put behind it.

After the first chapter was complete and work on the second had started, I was still unsure on how to proceed. The original idea that I was working on involved nothing but the country of the Republic Antarctic, so I had to find a way to make sure Max got back to Plutes somehow. Some of my classmates from Halesowen college wanted to be in the story, which gave me an idea. What if the RA was just a part of Earth hidden away from the rest of the world? That then spawned the alternate reality the story then became set in, and work continued from that, making it almost become fully complete.

Why almost? Because I’d set myself to publishing it on the Amazon Kindle store, and didn’t want the ending revealed. I’d hidden it on the website and set myself the task of getting it ready. That was first announced on October of 2013, but it took three and a half years before it finally happened. Not because I just wasn’t interested in doing so, but the characters. All those real names of real people. The story as well, with the amount of self-referential material it held [including the fact that my character in the story was working on the story that you were reading]. The conversion got put on hold in July of 2014 [though probably more a month or two before] and a new story announced to be the first. That one being Space Race Championship.

So with TV and Film Residential Camp no longer being the one to be published and Space Race Championship being put on hold [not that I ever announced that], nothing ever surfaced about my ambitions of self-publishing a novel to the Kindle store. Not until 2017, anyway. February of that year I teased I would have something soon. On March, I announced it, and on April released it. That being The Alternate Adventures of Halesowen – the character introductions to the new crew of the media production course at Halesowen college.

All the names had been changed, a few characters removed, and while I kept some attributes the same, these new characters were my own. The world they lived was my own. But how did this start? The success of finally pushing out an ebook for the world to see?

It was my last year at university. Animation had been a dream of mine for years, back during secondary school and messing around with LEGO. Then I moved to college, and I should have seen it then. But I didn’t. As much as I loved animation, I didn’t have the passion to be working it. During that last year of uni, the reality hit. Throughout university, I’d still been writing. My writing had progressed. My animation hadn’t. Which then put me back to the idea of self-publishing on the Kindle store. Trouble was, which of the two do I choose to make my first?

As I’d already said, the idea to change character names had been in place the first time I’d wanted to turn TV and Film Residential Camp into a true ebook, but they’d still be the same characters as before. And while Space Race Championship had seen several rewrites, it had never progressed beyond the first half. Did I want to risk having a book that had a strong first half but perhaps a weak second half? Especially as my first venture into self-publishing?

Then I came across something I’d planned during college. It was to have been a short film, but never had seen the light of day beyond the idea. It got merged with the planning, so that while TV and Film Residential Camp was being turned into Secrets Behind the Truth, I could consider more in-depth world building. Once again I got to chapter two and thought how to proceed. I needed to create the UK in this alternate world so it could be similar yet different, able to fit in with this new version of the story. And with that, I needed the new crew of Halesowen college students.

Jack became the first addition, borrowed from that idea for the short film. The rest of the crew formed, building to ten people. I kept the main of the class together, keeping the dynamics of the group as much as possible while also fitting the original character of Jack within. These characters were continually being added to as the first of the stories started to be written. During the writing of that first story, I came to two ideas that held. I needed to tie this in with Secrets Behind the Truth so that the world was consistent across both, allowing a solid timeline of events. I also wanted a hook to tie all eight stories together.

As the first story came to an end, a few of the other stories were in planning, with that idea for the short film becoming one of them. It seemed cruel, perhaps, to implement the original character into the world to then have him appear once before the story he meets his fate. But I felt it worked to have this event and this character be a reference throughout the story, affecting his classmates in some form. I gave him a second appearance to help with that.

Implementing the tie-in material with Secrets Behind the Truth was easy. The store of Gamestation had been a side point of the original story, and would remain so in the new version. Setting a story there to introduce the place before its ‘official’ introduction seemed a good thing to do. As for the other tie-in stuff, referencing the whereabouts of Daniel was easy, though directly talking of the outcome of his and Max’s second visit to Plutes was probably going a bit too far. And of course Max’s return to the college for a surprise visit from a different viewpoint would have to be the last story, and by the time I’d written the rest of the stories, the plot of this last one was obvious.

With a crew of characters and an alternate England formed, work moved back to Secrets Behind the Truth, where worked progressed quickly. I already had the overall line worked out, it just needed the finer details to be changed, added to, or removed. I removed any trace of it having been an unplanned story, chipping off anything that didn’t need to be there or forming it into a side line.

The reason for Max wanting to go back to Plutes and shut it down became a lot more natural. Gamestation and the RA-UK deal formed itself into something cleaner, with that whole subsection of the story overall being more refined. Yes, there still remained self-referential material, but it was less in your face and built into the character of Brandon Golden – the character based on myself. His character had become an alternate version of myself, built up across both stories to be more confident about what he wanted to be but still trying to gain the self-confidence to do so. Daniel also had more point-of-view focus than the previous version of the story, allowing his thoughts on situations to come through where before they were mostly lost. Stanley had a bit more focus to dive a bit deeper into his character.

As for where the series will go, there’ll be more focus on the full crew as they head into their second year. There’s a few areas I’m going to look at, including getting Max to interact with more of the crew. Gamestation will be getting more focus as it grows, with a bit more work also going into the growth of the characters – specifically the areas they want to go after leaving the college. I’m also going to put a bit of focus on other relationships. That will lead all the way to the start of the return of Plutes, which is where the story will merge into the fourth book of the series.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

January '19 Monthly Update [Network]

You’ll have noticed that December was light on content. There was the first impressions of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but after that came nothing. I admit to succumbing to a block on any and all work. It had struck in November, but I could at least push myself to some work. Then the lack of energy dragged me down throughout December, so that even that first impressions post might not have happened.

A new year brings a new me. I’m pushing on through and will be getting back into things. The marketing drive for Space Race Championship begins this month, with that look at the previous ebooks. Crossing to the New Life will come on the 21st, giving a look at all the other areas of the shopping district. The Moonlit Critbit I said would be coming in November will also be here this month.

If I can, I will get another post up relating to another game idea I’ve been cooking up. If you’ve heard of Anomaly: Warzone Earth, you might be able to guess what that idea is. It’s more of an expansion of the genre rather than a full new idea.

This month I will be showing off more custom races in Forza Horizon 4, but there’s also a GTA Online video or two I want to be showing off. Since the snowfall hit in Los Santos, it’s fun to see these stunt races in a winter setting. As well as that, Rockstar gave out an interesting weapon as a Christmas gift, so there’s a video showing off what it can do.