2014 was the year I gave up on my Xbox 360. I’ve enjoyed owning it, and it’s given me some great memories, but over the last 12 months or so I’ve been throwing myself more and more into PC Gaming. My favourite genre has its home here, there’s been a lot more genuinely innovative games here thanks to the rise of self-publishing, and with the announcement of the Steam Machine late last year… I was ready to give up on the home consoles for good.

I didn’t mean to completely go cold turkey, mind. My pile of shame is shameful indeed, and half of the reason me and the missus bought a 50″ TV was so that we could get a visual treat whilst playing on our consoles. For some reason though, I haven’t touched my 360 for gaming purposes since I moved here last December. Haven’t touched my PS3 either but then the PS3 is something I’ve always almost regretted buying, mainly because I never use it much. The 360 was my favourite console of the last generation, but now that the ‘New’ generation is here, as a 360 owner I don’t feel satisfied anymore. All of the ‘cool’ projects are going to be new-gen from now on. At the very least they will be cross-generational, but I firmly believe buying a cross-gen game for the weaker generation is even more pointless than upgrading to the new generation (it’s looking like things will get better, judging by this year’s E3, but I’ll talk about that in another post).

That only really leaves the odd smattering of games that are still being targeted for the last generation, mainly because the install-base is there and proven, while the new generation don’t quite have the numbers yet to keep everyone happy. You’ve got Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel I guess, but I’ve got Borderlands 2 if I really want my fix for that. GTA V is something I’d rather buy on the PC (now that I know it’s coming), same with AC4, which is a cross-gen title anyway. All in all, I’m left with my existing library but I never really feel inclined to dip into it, so I don’t. Everything I *really* want, I own, and I can’t bring myself to spend the money on speculative purchases anymore when I have so many games already.

In February, I received an email from Xbox Support telling me my card details were incorrect, and that my automatic Xbox Live Subscription Renewal might fail. I didn’t feel inclined to rectify the issue, and I resigned myself to losing the only thing I really enjoy doing on my Xbox towards the end, which is playing multiplayer with my friends. Mainly Battlefield 3. That was four months ago, and all I’ve really done is play on my PC and twiddle my thumbs waiting for more Steam Machine news. Looks like I’ll have to wait until next year now, which is annoying, but what can you do.

Then I lost my Xbox 360 headset.

Well, firstly my best friend said he wanted to start playing Battlefield 3 again, then I realised I’d lost my headset when I went looking for it. Another friend of mine just got a 360 again (long story), so we’re going to surgically insert a copy of Battlefield 3 into his machine. To top it off, looking through my bank statements (for a different reason), I suddenly realised that my renewal payment HAD worked. My annoyance at losing out on 3 month’s worth of Xbox Live time, and free games, was quickly replaced by weird sense of joy and nostalgia as I realised maybe it was time to dust the ol’ gal off and take her for a spin once more.

Of course, I still had no headset, so I made what I suspect will be my last investment in my Xbox 360, and bought a new one.

Actually, I bought a ‘GioTeck Elite Essentials Kit’ for the Xbox 360 from Tesco. It came with a new headset, a HDMI cable AND a rechargeable Battery pack with charger cable. My last Charger cable broke years ago, so this was appreciated – all for £15! In contrast, headsets alone for the Xbox One were retailing for £50 – 80, depending on what type you got. Another reason I’m not adopting new-gen now (if ever) – the pricing of everything.

So, for now, my 360 has been given a breath of fresh air. Will be on Battlefield 3 tonight, and who knows? Might even start looking at some of the other games I’ve got lying around as well. I spend too much time on my PC as it is, so perhaps doing something different for a bit will be healthy. But if I still need my XBL Subscription come February next year, I’ll be surprised. Eventually, it’ll have to go in its box for the last time. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know… I still have my GameCube and my N64 in our loft, but then again I might just trade it in. My missus has a 360 as well, so we don’t really need to keep both, at the end of the day.

Hello, old friend. It’s been a long time.

Well, this is rather exciting. Last year, I told you guys I was working on my first novel, codenamed ‘Project Author’ (I have a great imagination). Yesterday, I was proud to announce that I’d officially finished the First Draft of that book, and I’m here to share a few details with you now, and to lay-out the plan for the coming weeks. So, without further ado, please say hello to Project Ascension.

Ascension” is the current working-title for my book, which is a series of four (for the moment anyway, that could change). I haven’t decided whether I’ll just call the series ‘Ascension’, and name the books something else, or maybe have a subtitle e.g. Ascension: Awesomeness or something like that, or simply keep it to Ascension: Book One etc…, those are questions for another time, but the meaning of the word, and the theme, are fairly important to the book’s over-all plot, so I’m keen to keep it in.

If you were to go into a book store, you’d find Ascension in the SF/Fantasy section. Online, it’d be labeled under ‘Science-Fiction’ and/or ‘(a)Historical Fiction’. My goal with this series was to create something that would surprise people, that they wouldn’t be able to see coming, and I hope I’ve done that here with the first book.

Test-Readers

Do you want to be a test reader? I’ve already got some people ‘on the books’ that I’ll be sending a copy out too, but I’m keen to get as much feedback as I can. Obviously I’ve mentioned genres above… my only advice is to take those with a pinch of salt. I can’t really explain why the genre of the book is a little more complicated than most books without giving the game away too much. If you really don’t think you’d be interested in reading it though, don’t worry.

If you’re interested in test-reading my book, you can hit me up on Twitter, or email me: joe@just-communication.co.uk

I’m going to be taking a break from Project Author now for a few weeks, concentrate on career a bit, and just let the feedback collect for a while. It’ll be difficult, as I’m already itching to start changing things and making it better, but I’ve got other stuff on my plate to worry about right now anyway.

Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know if you want a test copy of the book! It’s in .PDF format, so make sure you have something you can read it on.

 

Hello!

This is just a quick update for anyone who’s interested on my job situation. It’s fairly straight forward, but I know my circumstances has seemed a little confusing in the past, especially considering my ‘official’ move to freelancing back in 2012. Anyway, here we go:

* As of this week, I’m no longer Marketing Manager for Strategy Informer. You could think of this as a ‘contractor’-like set-up, as even though I used that title (because it was simple), I wasn’t really ‘employed’ by the company because it made dealing with the HMRC more straightforward. But role has run its course now. If you’ve ever dealt with me in a capacity related to ad-sales or marketing, I’m afraid I’m no longer your point of contact. Please email Kres@strategyinformer.com and he’ll sort you out.

* I’m also, unfortunately, not going to be doing any freelance writing work for Strategy Informer in the foreseeable future. If you’ve thought of me as the ‘strategy-guy’ for Strategy Informer, or as someone who you’d generally like to see do coverage of games for that outlet, I’m afraid I can’t help you any longer. Please contact Jamie@strategyinformer.com from now on.

Moving forward

So, from today, I’m officially ‘back’ on the Job market, in the sense that I’m more actively seeking more work. I know I’ve been freelancing officially for a couple years now, but that tailed off slightly over the last 6 months or so as I got more involved in a specific project for Strategy Informer. With that work complete, I’m now ready to move on to bigger and better things.

I’ll be contacting editors again over the next week or two, trying to be more active in my dialogue with you guys, but if you want to get in touch with me my contact details are below. I’m still going to try and keep freelancing, but I’d also happily consider a more stable job. I have a mortgage to look after now, after all.

Things I Can Do

You can see my full CV on the ‘Employment‘ Page, but here are some things I’m confident I can do for you:

* Write.
* Sell your webspace to people.
* Podcasting, Streaming and more of this new fangled stuff (I have a guy).
* Events – I’m close enough to London that I can attend events if you need someone. I can be your guy.
* Think – I’m actually very good at thinking. On a serious note, I have been asked to creatively consult before (Creative Consulting is a thing).

Contact Details

You can get in touch with me through various means:

Email: joe@just-communication.co.uk
Twitter: @DigitalXentric
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/joe-robinson/20/8ab/394

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!

I’ve always found the May 4th joke slightly ridiculous, if I’m honest, but I do love Star Wars so any excuse to celebrate. Episode VII has been in the news recently, of course, given that they’ve released the final main cast list. I think it’s a good idea to have some of the old cast and the new cast there in the same film… I imagine they’ll be some kind of hand-off to the new generation? Disney, as much as they annoy me as a company sometimes (they keep trying to shut down the videogames industry), have done wonders with the Marvel franchise, so maybe they’ll do some good here too.

The only thing that worries me is JJ Abrams himself. Sure, he did a really good job with the first of the new Star Trek films, but Into Darkness really wasn’t great. Watchable, but certain aspects of that film could have been done a lot better. I won’t say anymore for spoiler reasons. Basically he seems a bit inconsistent at the moment, especially with LOST still being a thing that he did. What was he thinking?

It’s important to remember one thing though with these new movies, and it’s the same mentality I had when I saw the prequel trilogy: they’re probably not ‘for’ us. They’ll be for a new generation of fans, who’ve grown up with different standards and values. If ‘previous’ fans like us end up liking it as well, then that’s just an added bonus. If anything they’ll be aimed at the kids who watch that Clone Wars cartoon.

Me and some friends of mine had a Star Wars movie-marathon a couple of weekends ago. We had a lot of fun, but ultimately it made me decide not to watch those films again anytime soon. Especially the original trilogy. When I was a kid, those movies seemed like the best movies of all time, but as I get older (and the more I watch)… the more magic is lost. I want to save some of that, at least. Maybe when I have kids, I’ll watch it with them. The only one I think I can watch and still enjoy is Episode 3, because it has some nice moments and action-scenes in them. Episode 1 is only good for the Darth Maul bit, and we don’t talk about Episode 2. Not ever. As for the original films… they were 70’s/80’s films, ultimately, and it shows.

Project Author Update

Some of you who follow me on Twitter/Facebook might already know where I’m at, but things are so close on the book front. I hit 72,000 words at the end of last week, and I’m essentially on the home stretch! I’m very excited… almost too excited because I find myself getting impatient a lot quicker with the final few chapters I’ve left to write. Essentially, here is my checklist of things ‘to do’ for the first draft:

* Finish writing Chapter’s 6, 8, 15 & 16 fully. These are the only chapters left that I haven’t written out fully so far. Everything else has already been written out.

* ‘First Draft’ proofs every chapter. I’ve already started this process, as the way I write I tend to bounce around from task to task to keep my engaged, but essentially this is me giving everything one more once-over, making sure it all ties together and flows well, and then marking it as a ‘first draft’ and never going back to it (bar inconsistencies I’ve missed). Currently I’ve ‘FD’d’ 12 out of 2o chapters (18 main + pro and epilogue).

Once that’s all done, I’ll have myself a bona-fide First Draft that I can send out to some test readers I’ll have lined up! Which reminds me. I need more test readers. I’ll also be able to start talking more about the book properly, and I can start looking towards creating some supporting material around it and maybe even lay the ground work for Book Two. Not too much though, as I imagine I’ll have to do some re-writing.

Very exciting times right now!

200

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Other, Writing/Journalism
Tags: , , ,

… and I just got informed that that previous post was my 200th post! Yay me!

I’m now at 50,000 words! Yay me!

After doing some calculations, I’d be surprised if I had more than 75K when the book is finished. At the moment I’ve got a structure of three parts, with six chapters per part and averaging at 4,000 words a chapter. I was hoping to hit 90,000, but I’ve already decided that I’ll just write the story as I envision it now, and see what happens. It’ll be as long as it ends up being – what’s more important is to start getting it into the hands of some ‘beta’ readers I already have lined up, start getting some genuine feedback. Maybe then I’ll be able to add, or expand, etc… 80,000 would be a good minimum to reach.

Anyway. To celebrate this milestone, I went ahead and bought a full-time use license of the software I’ve been using to write my book – Scrivener. Let me tell  you, as someone who started off writing his book in MS Word (What WAS I thinking?), this program was a revelation. It’s really easy to get into it, and it makes working with a multi-section document like a book so much easier to interact with. I wish I’d had this for my dissertation, I wouldn’t have had to go through so many headaches in the end.

The only thing I will say is that the compiling part – where you take your work and compress it into one, neat document – was a bit fiddly. It wasn’t 100% clear what all the options were and I had to compile several times just to figure out how to get the format I wanted. Other than that though – wonderful!

It costs $40 USD/£26 to buy, and it’s worth every penny if you need to write something big. It’s also got loads of built-in multi-media features as well that I don’t need to use, but that someone else might find extremely useful.