Posts tagged musings
Amazon Books Excursion

A real bookstore this time, not that silly "4 star" nonsense!

...and still, I was disappointed. 😒 The store was maybe 1/3 the size of a typical B&N. While they did some cool things with their front displays ("Unputdownable: Kindle readers finish these books in 3 days or less" and so on), the overall book distribution was 2/3 nonfiction to 1/3 fiction - and nearly all the fiction was lit fic. The only genre fiction in the store were current bestsellers that either trend toward lit fic or have otherwise garnered critical attention (such as Black Leopard, Red Wolf), or recognized classics (such as Dune).

In part, it could have simply been catering to its customers, as any retail store should. Cherry Creek is an extremely upscale neighborhood, and I'd believe that its denizens would never demean themselves by being caught reading *genre* fiction. 😱

Still, disappointed. Amazon is flubbing a great market opportunity here. Readers LOVE bookstores, and we're desperate for great ones we can lose ourselves in. This isn't one.

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Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Anthem Review

I did an extensive review for Mass Effect Andromeda after finishing it, so I figure I owe you one after finishing the critical path storyline for Anthem. Spoiler-free!

The very, very good: 💯

1) Flying is FUN.💫 Combat is FUN. Not having played Titanfall or its ilk, I'll refrain from saying it's unique, but there's no question that with the javelins Bioware has created something ⭐️very special⭐️. I can't overstate how smooth and exhilarating it feels to soar through Bastion's canyons and blow up enemies.

2) The world is drop-dead gorgeous. State-of-the-art graphics, incredible lighting and what feels like a lot of attention to detail combine to make Bastion's wilds the most beautiful environment I've ever seen in a video game. (One slight negative: it isn't, however, particularly varied, at least not yet. But you don't care, because what's there is simply stunning.)

3) The voice acting in the critical path questline is among the best I've ever heard in a game. Bioware has always excelled in this area, but they've somehow managed to up their game here. Faye, Haluk, Owen, Tassyn, Dax and the rest quickly become memorable, impactful characters thanks to their VAs. I can't speak about the male freelancer, but the female freelance voice is also excellent. I'm not sure how well the VA would do with a "heftier" role like Shepard, but here she's quite pleasant to listen to.

4) Bioware has FINALLY cracked the secret code on how to make characters look good using the much-maligned Frostbite engine. NPCs are varied and diverse in their appearances, but they all look great. So much less shininess and puffiness than in DAI and MEA! One of the major characters in the main quest, Tassyn, is frankly gorgeous (even if she is a bit of a bitch). Facial animations are also much improved from MEA, if not quite up to AC: Odyssey standards. I've read Bioware used a lot more motion capture for Anthem than they have previously, which likely explains this improvement.

The not so great: 😏

1) WHY OH WHY did Bioware choose a first-person perspective for Fort Tarsis (and a Javelin-only third-person perspective for outside) when they've FINALLY cracked the secret code on how to make characters look good??? In character creation, you choose male or female, then from one of a dozen or so fixed portraits. After that, you only see your character's face during a few *meaningful* mission cutscenes, when they flip their visor up. You never see their hair or see them out of a javelin. Such a waste!

2A) The critical path questline is far too short. Granted, this will almost certainly be expanded upon in the future (apparently for free, which will be nice). While a compelling story, it's not nearly long or fulsome enough to serve as the backbone of a game. Of course, Anthem is about much more than that questline, so arguably it doesn't need to be.

2B) And it's too shallow. If not for the stellar voice acting and the innate storytelling finesse Bioware has always displayed, it would have been very difficult to feel the slightest bit invested in your character's 'backstory' or the current plight they and the world find themselves facing.

The bad: 😖

1) The missions are worryingly repetitive in their technical design. There's only about 3 basic mechanics the missions rotate between, and I worry that the repetition will soon drown out the inherent fun in the gameplay.

2) The gear/weapons/skills system is simultaneously overly complicated and overly shallow. This is something else I'm sure will be dramatically expanded and refined with time, but at release, it leaves a lot to be desired.

3) Fort Tarsis is much smaller than I was expecting. I have to believe they cut large swaths of it to make an EA-mandated release date. What's there is charming and quirky, but there's not much there.

4) Way too many and too long loading screens. This is something Bioware has been frantically working on improving, and there was a BIG improvement from the demo to release. They're still too long and happen way too frequently.

5) Co-op needs text chat! (And possibly voice chat, but at least text chat.) Several missions include puzzles, and you can imagine how much fun it is to have 4 players who can't communicate with each other running around randomly spinning obelisks and lights and such all at the same time, frequently at cross-purposes.

So will I keep playing? Yes, but until there's a substantive (read: story-heavy) update, only casually. Like I said, it's FUN. But having completed the only significant questline, it's not necessarily meaningful.

Don't ask me for a score, guys. Come on....😔

Okay, fine! B...-

Have some raw, unenhanced screenshots!

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Originally posted on Facebook.

AI Performs Better When It Can Sleep & Dream

I knew it was a good idea to have the Asterions need to sleep. 🤗 Granted, their brains are partially organic, but this is definitely one way that the synthetic components would be designed to complement the organic ones.

https://www.sciencealert.com/neural-networks-performance-increases-if-they-re-allowed-to-sleep-and-dream

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(How cool is it that this image is called “robot butterflies”!)

Originally posted on Facebook.

GS Jennsenresearch, musings, writing, tech
70K for The Stars Like Gods

Did you know The Stars Like Gods already has 70,000 words? Messy words, but words nonetheless.

Yesterday I reached the point where I needed to map out what I had, so I could identify holes still needing to be filled. Plot holes, but mostly character holes. So I grabbed some paper and a bunch pens and created a gorgeous flow chart in my infamous scrawl. (I swear, I couldn't draw a straight line if I had a gun pointed at my head.) 🤣 The holes I found are in red. 💢

Yes, it's a tiny picture, for good reason. 😋

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Originally posted on Facebook.

GS Jennsenmusings, writing
New Device Is Better Than Old Device

The new model Kindle Paperwhite has replaced an aging (if not *technically* broken) Voyage. It's an upgrade in every way - thinner, lighter, faster, better screen - but it's an incremental upgrade, not a revolutionary one.

I'm very happy with it, but Amazon...I'm pretty sure I know how to work a Kindle, and I'm frankly a little insulted that you think I need❗THREE⁉️ User Guides.... 😶

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Originally posted on Facebook and Instagram.

GS Jennsenmusings
Just A Little Inspiration

Just a little inspiration, for me as much as for you, on a morning when I'm trying to write despite having the flu, and am gently kicking ACX over where the h*ck my audiobook is. 🤨

I couldn't find any attribution for the quote, but shout if you know who said it.

Hat tip to We Rate Dogs for teaching me how to keep my cursing clean. (Don't worry, this won't extend to the books, lol. Or any other part of my life. But We Rate Dogs is awesome.) 😋

Did anyone else immediately think of Akeso when they read the first two sentences?

 
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Originally posted on Facebook.

GS Jennsenmusings, space
It's All Getting Better

A positive reminder that, though on any given day or even year it might not seem like it (and it's in the media's interest not to report it), humanity, the world, society - it's all getting better. We've made amazing progress over the last 200 years; the improvements began accelerating in the last 80 years, and a simple extrapolation from historical data suggests those curves are going to keep accelerating upward.

THIS is why we'll go to the stars. Better yet, this is why we'll deserve to. 🤗

Via Bill Gates: https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/1086662632587907072

More information on the data behind the graphs: https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-condi…

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

GS Jennsenmusings, tech