Tag: things I like

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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Car 9: It’s the End of the World As We Know It

Car 9: It’s the End of the World As We Know It

Welcome to the to A is For Apocalypse blog train! If you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure to check out the other stops on the train.

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One of the first apocalypses I can remember seeing was in Wizards. It was showing late at a comic convention in a tiny room in the basement floor. Only a handful of people were there, which was good, as the room could maybe have held twenty people. A TV was placed at the front of the room, the lights were turned out, and the world appeared on the screen. Then it blew up.

We laughed. What else could you do?

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Playing: The Walk

Playing: The Walk

The Walk is a fitness game that came out in December. I picked it up right away, because it’s by Six to Start and Naomi Alderman, who also made Zombies, Run! (which I love). It’s got a similar philosophy behind it: activity and fitness motivated by story. That is, unsurprisingly, a motivation that works rather well for me. It also has many of the same voice actors, which gives it a nice familiar feel. No zombies in this one, but it’s a suspense thriller, so I’m still in.

Expectations are a little different for this game. Zombies, Run! is more of a workout app, where you set aside some time to go on a run. The Walk is more like a pedometer: it uses your fitness level for the entire day to progress through the story. One of the nice things is that you don’t have to listen to the story points right as they unlock. It works well for me, as I alternate between listening to them as soon as I can, and saving them up to blow through whole sections in one go.

iOS Progress

There are also game play elements based on the map: you can choose different paths through the mission to open up collectables which are extra images that add to the world. There are also landscape features, which appear as small squares on the map when you’re in range of them. They usually have little text notes for the scenery, but are sometimes sound files with additional stories. At first the landscape features annoyed me: if you don’t happen to open the app while you’re in range, you can complete the episode with some missing. I’m a bit of a completionist, so I found that frustrating at first. I’ve pretty much gotten over it. I don’t know if they actually increased the range at which the features appear (it feels like it), or I just started checking the app more, but I don’t miss as many as I did at the start. Apparently some of them also depend on the path you take, so I’ve accepted that I’ll have to do some maps more than once (though four times for the one I just couldn’t catch was irritating).

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Puppet Master

Puppet Master

When we were younger, my brother — a devoted horror movie fan — discovered Full Moon Entertainment (now Full Moon Features). They had a large collection of direct-to-video movies, complete with behind the scenes clips at the end. While I’ll always have a fondness for the Subspecies series (that first movie had the entire room rooting for the villain by the end), the series that hooked me, and stuck with me, was Puppet Master.

If you’ve never seen it, Movie Bob did a great overview to kick off this year’s Schlocktober over at the Big Picture.

Killer puppets. Yes! I’m in. I think a lot of my lasting affection comes from the design of the puppets, and their characterization. They never talk, though they can make sounds, but they still manage to have personalities. I’ve also always liked how the opening scene with Toulon in the first movie sets you up to connect with them, even when you know they’ll be slaughtering people later on.

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5-box Experiment

5-box Experiment

Recently, after a break of about two years, I started playing World of Warcraft again. A lot has changed, so I’ve also spent time on WoW-related sites trying to catch up. I can’t remember what I was looking for when I saw the changes to the Recruit a Friend program, but whatever it was led to a three month long distraction.

Back when Blizzard first introduced the RaF program, I had switched my main servers to play with some real-life friends. I didn’t move characters with me (because they were the other faction and I still played on the old server part-time). I didn’t have as many characters there yet, and hadn’t rolled either of the classes that I’d played for years.

I level slowly. I feel bad for my poor friends whenever they’re stuck waiting for me to catch up. The thought of levelling another priest and warlock wasn’t enticing, given how long I knew it would take me. The bonus experience from the RaF program was appealing. Not only would I be able to level two characters at the same time, but they’d level faster than usual. All I had to do was learn to dual-box.

My Original Dualbox Team

I loved it. I’m not the greatest, but I enjoy running my characters in pairs more than running them alone. I have a number of established teams, including that original RaF team, and I occasionally pull others together for different quests or areas. It has its frustrating elements (Horde cities have a serious obsession with spiral staircases), but it became my preferred play style.

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Playing: Zombies, Run!

Playing: Zombies, Run!

ZOMBIES, RUN!: A running game & audio adventure. You tie your shoes, put on your headphones, take your first steps outside. You’ve barely covered 100 yards when you hear them. They must be close. You can hear every guttural breath, every rattling groan — they’re everywhere. Zombies. There’s only one thing you can do: Run!

Exercise is a lot more interesting lately ^_^