Category: On the Web

4thewords Redux

4thewords Redux

A few years ago I wrote up my impressions of 4thewords after using the site during NaNoWriMo for the first time. Last year I realized I should post an update at somepoint, because the site had changed so much (all for the better). It’s taken me a bit, but here it is!

The Changes

So, first of all, the things that have not changed: the goal of the site and the basic mechanics of the monster battles. The goal is, of course, to give you extra motivation to write words. It’s always been good at that and continues to be so.

The monster mechanics are still basically the same: each monster has a target word count and a time limit. If you hit the word count before the battle timer runs out, you win! Some monsters are more difficult because they have more words, others because they have less time. There’s a pretty good balance for the most part.

What has changed, however, is the addition of a world and a wrap-around story with more RPG elements.

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4thewords

4thewords

Edit, Dec. 1, 2016: The site has changed a lot in the last year, all for the better 🙂 I’m going to do a new post shortly eventually, but in the meantime, know that this post was based on an earlier version of the site and much of it has changed.

I participate in NaNoWriMo every year, and one of the side effects of that is trying out the products from their various sponsors. I’ve had more than a few successes over the years, finding things like Scrivener that I love and can’t imagine working without. Others are just fun.

This year, one of the ones I tried out for the first time is the site 4thewords. I think they were a sponsor last year as well, but the early reports indicated they were having a very rough Beta, and I decided to give them a little more time the get their feet under them. Things seemed more stable this year, and their walk-through video once again convinced me this was something I’d find fun, so I decided to give them a chance.

It’s gamification for writing. Combining two things I love, so of course I had to try it out.

The first thing I’d say is that the updates they’ve rolled out this month are fantastic, and were sorely needed. The difference in the user experience even between now and when I started on November 2nd is enough that it was the difference between my continuing with the site after NaNo and not. If the writing interface had stayed the way it was when I started, I wouldn’t have remained with it, and may have even ditched it before NaNo was over. Given the updates, however, it’s a functional WYSIWIG, with the ability to create multiple files and organize them into projects, and something I can see myself continuing to use. It’s not a full-fledged word processor, but I have Scrivener for that, and this is an excellent way to get words on the page.

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HabitRPG

HabitRPG

Last year, a friend showed me HabitRPG, which for me was another in a long string of to-do list and productivity apps that I’d tried. I expected it to have a similar usage pattern to the rest of them: I would use it without fail for a few weeks, if I was lucky a couple of months, and then I’d lose interest. I have abandoned accounts on more apps than I remember exist. HabitRPG however, appears to be sticking.

It’s a gamification app, so I’m willing to try it right out of the gate, of course. I’ve seen a lot of posts out there going over the basics, and there’s an overview video, so I’m not going to go into everything it does.

HabitRPG Tutorial #1: Tasks from Tyler Renelle on Vimeo.

I’ve been trying to figure out why this one’s working for me, but I think in large part it comes down to two things: quests and pets.

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On the Web: Merit Badger

On the Web: Merit Badger

I posted a link to this site with the first badge I claimed, but I felt like calling attention to it again 🙂

The Merit Badger blog has a wide variety of graphic badges to earn in the course of writing or reading (there’s some Halloween badges in there too). As a person motivated by game achievements, I love this. As you may have seen so far, I’ve claimed the badges for Feline “assistance” and Writing by Hand, among others. I’ll be grabbing a word count badge when I get this current draft done, and I think there’s even a NaNo one in there, which I haven’t claimed yet.

Unfortunately, the blog has been on hiatus for a while now, but the badges are still there, and I have a lot of catching up to do. Also, for anyone who feels like badge collecting and posting them, be sure to read the image guidelines. There’s a badge for that!

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On the Web: Echo Bazaar

On the Web: Echo Bazaar

I posted earlier about Extra Credits. On of their earlier episodes talked about the web-based game Echo Bazaar. As my Facebook friends are likely aware, I started playing it a little while ago, and I love it.

It’s a fairly simple to learn game: your character starts in Newgate Prison of Fallen London, and your first task is to break out. You have a certain number of actions available at any given moment (represented by the candle at the top left hand of the screen), and these are used to progress in your storylets. You also have a total number of actions per day.

One of favourite thing about the game is the atmosphere created. A review I read described it as “Lovecraft meets Edward Gorey for tea on Baker Street”, which quite accurate. Since I love all three of those, it’s not surprising that I love the feel of the games and the tone of the storylets.

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On the Web: Extra Credits

On the Web: Extra Credits

I’ve been following a number of shows on the Escapist for a while now, but I don’t think I’ve linked to any of them here before.

The newest show on my “must-see” roster is Extra Credits. I came to this one late.  I think it started during a brieft period where I wasn’t checking in on the shows. In January I clicked on their Piracy episode, since it was a topic being discussed in writing circles, and I wanted to listen to the video game take. After I watched it, I watched every episode they’d already posted.

Their latest episode at this moment is an excellent open letter to EA Marketing, but I’m going to embed one of my favourite episodes so far: Choice and Conflict.

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On the Web: Instapaper

On the Web: Instapaper

I read Twitter almost exclusively on my iPhone. Given the format, it makes a lot of sense to me to display it that way, and I tend to prefer the Twitter apps to the web site. One of the downsides, however, is that I follow a lot of people because they give links to excellent stories, and I hate surfing the web on my phone. I didn’t really have a satisfactory system of marking things to read later, until I switched to the official Twitter app, which supports another of additions, including Instapaper.

Instapaper is a system of temporarily saving links to read later. For people who skim Twitter or RSS feeds when we don’t have time to sit down an read full articles, they can flag a link a something they want to come back to, and then log into Instapaper to see that list when they have the time to devote to reading.

The site has a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser, so while you’re surfing, you just click the button, and it adds the article to your list. In the Twitter app, you put your account in the settings, and then when viewing a tweet, “Read Later” is one of the options if it contains a link.

Once it’s been added, it shows up in your Instapaper list, with a link to the site, and in this case, with the display text of the tweet that caught your attention.

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