Thursday, 28 May 2015

Radio Silence

Just a Note.

Things have been quiet lately. Not to worry, I'm still alive. This blog will still be an archive of my written works that are too long for the newer social media.

If you want to get in touch with me, look on my Twitter or Tumblr, or the Contact Page link in the header.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Focus and Continuity in AQWorlds.

Note: This was not written by me, but by another user of AQWorlds. I am simply rehosting their opinions with permission. The only changes I have made are spelling and formatting.

Author: Ergotth of Battleon Forums.
This is a little critique I have for AE regarding the direction AQW is going: all over the place and nowhere at the same time (Warning, this is a looooong text).

Introduction
Something I noticed more or less during the Spam Chaos Lord saga is that AE is not keeping the focus of its storyline. They want to keep throwing us so many random plot lines and events clashing with the current plot line that sometimes, between two events of the same plot, we have to wait a whole month to get back to where we stopped.

The Chaos Lord finale was a prime example of this, we kicked Drakath in July, Lore crumbled to dust, and we were about to meet the Loremasters. It took us December to get back with the Mother of all Monsters…and nowhere near where we stopped! What happened inside the Loremaster's temple? How did we get in the frozen wasteland? And why did it take 5 months frolicking in places that shouldn't even exist anymore to get back to the Mother of all Monsters saga, without even proper continuity?

And then we have 3 releases in the frozen wasteland, some nice quests, cutscenes, etc.. We finished it with an interesting note of two powerful villains getting closer than we wish they would... only to follow it in a different place from where we stopped again! Alas, in a place that shouldn't exist.

Lore's Geography
Northpointe shouldn't exist anymore, Lore itself crumbled to pieces, places like Battleon, Shadowfall, Arcangrove, etc are either sinking to the bottom of the ocean, shattered to pieces or isolated islands of destruction. If you guys had to emphasize so much the idea that Lore was literally falling apart (and I'm quoting a cutscene when I say "falling apart"), please give us a new map like you promised.

No need to make a new MAP, but at least make the rooms unrelated to the old Lore, like the Frozen Wasteland, it was a perfect scenario. At the same time, you should also make it very clear that Lore was scattered like a broken egg. Which was a very overwhelming plot device if you ask me, quite a bold move on the story. But you guys also need responsibility with this promise, because it meant a huge change in the map of AQWorlds that is yet to be seen. And speaking of the Frozen Wasteland, I don't think we had to leave that place yet. Don't be afraid to keep us in the same map for more than 3 releases in a row. it also helps the artist who makes the scenarios (J6, I believe) so he can easily keep what he was working on without having to jump from different themes so erratically.

Also, if you guys still can't part with some old areas, make some excuse to fit in, like, the area survived the destruction, or that room is all that's left of the whole area. Make some key points of the map as beacons in that sea of chaos (lower-case c "chaos"). So as much as Lore was destroyed, we get some places that survived somehow, like the places we saw in the Loremaster Temple release, what was left of Dwarfhold, what was left of Arcangrove, and so on...

And now we have yet another remake of the tutorial... Couldn't it just wait a little? The old tutorial was already explaining and introducing us to AQW pretty much fine on its own. Why can't some things wait? Please AE, make an engaging and coherent plot, a storyline that keep us eager to see the end, a continuous saga that wont be interrupted for so much time until we forget what we were doing. I liked how AQW was back a few years, with a whole story in a row, consistent and fluid, no unnecessary interruptions. However, I consider those seasonal events like Friday the 13th, Mogloween, staff birthdays, etc. necessary, they can't wait indeed).

The storyline in AQWorlds takes YEARS to be fulfilled, it's a long, complex story, BUT... it's split into smaller stories that converge in the end. The Chaos Lord saga was split into 13 parts and other related side events. Between the Chaos Lords' sagas, we had free time. Doomwood happened, Xan happened, Etherstorm happened. That is a good flowchart to follow. Try to keep the small parts of the storyline fluent and with short interruptions, so when they are finished, we can rest and enjoy some free time before the next adventure knocks on our door.

I know you guys have A LOT of brilliant ideas, but give it order, or else AQW will fall into literal chaos.

I suggest that every time you fine lads start a saga, consider the time it takes to make each part, try to avoid taking over 2 weeks to continue the story, and, if possible, avoid clashing the events. I would reccommend planning the order of some releases as a whole month plan.

Considering how a month has just 4 releases, 2-3 months sounds reasonable to just place the releases in order, you know, a flowchart, a pipeline. Something to place the releases in a line, take a step back and look at the order they have, and see which ones can change place with others. Sometimes it feels like the releases are planned looking forward but never looking back to analyze the trail they left.

I also have a few reminders of what was promised to us and so far, not a clue where they are going:
-last stone of Battleon: still about to turn into "something".
-Doomwood VS Grimskull: Grimskull was BRILLIANT, the dungeon was fun and the NPC was hilarious, we re all eager to see more of it (and make sure to explain us why Doomwood still exists when *ahem* Lore doesn't anymore).
-Descending into hell to get Dage's soul, promised after his birthday challenge boss fight, which specified that after the Chaos Lord saga finale, we would have this saga.
-The Scorned saga. We are still waiting to enter Dage's court.

I think it sounds a little harsh, but I'm speaking with a very sincere, worried and helpful intention. I see AQW losing some players, I can look at the servers and see how empty they get with time. Some players are quitting AQW, I'm not renewing my membership, because I feel like AQWorlds is becoming a pipe dream and its not captivating me as much as Dragonfable and AQ.

I don't want to see AQWorlds end up empty and deserted. I grew with it, alpha-tested it and saw with a very close eye every bit of development it had. I hold so many precious memories of playing... and this game has POTENTIAL, I tell ya. It is just veering off its direction a bit, so you must put it back on track. It's not a U-turn, just a few steps back to see your path, and keep your eyes on your surroundings. And most important, learn from the past. See what you did so you can plan what you will do, what you promised, what you must fulfill, what can wait, and what must be done immediately.

Battle On

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Article summary: Linguistic features in Norwegian SMS. (Part 3)

Previous section here.
First section here.

My Reaction

    This section includes my thoughts on the article, such as the possibility of carrying out a similar research in this country, and how different the results of this research could be if repeated today. The article's organization could be improved by adding an abstract at the start, even though the whole article is a mere nine pages. The abstract would give potential readers an idea of what the article contains, and might spark further interest in reading it.

    The topic of sociolinguistic features in SMS is an interesting one, as Malaysians frequently use SMS and other forms of electronic communication in for many purposes. The main purpose of SMS, emails, and calls remains constant, that is, to communicate. However, another study on the various ways of Asian communication in electronic form would be something to consider.

    Since the research mentioned in this article was carried out in 2002 and technology has advanced rapidly in the years after the study, research on this topic today would probably show different results. A study on the Malaysian use of SMS is bound to showcase the characteristic features of Malaysian English and code switching, and how SMS can change the way we express Manglish.

    The researcher discusses a few ways in which his research could be improved. In the article's introduction, he mentions that there may be selective filtering as respondents may be reluctant to share embarrassing or private messages. He has a point, as many SMS users, myself included, are bound to have messages that we'd rather keep for a few certain eyes, not for strangers to read.

    He also states that the respondents had to read out three of the last sent messages in their phones to an interviewer, which made it difficult to get an accurate transcription. Now, with the advent of email, collecting more accurate samples of SMS messages will be easier as respondents could copy the text of their messages into their emails and send them to an interviewer; should this research be carried out again.

    The researcher mentions that abbreviations do not appear very often in the sampled messages. At the time the article was written, SMS messaging was a relatively new system; so most of the widely known acronyms found in a modern SMS wouldn't exist back then. If this research was carried out again in Malaysia today, there might be more instances of abbreviations, especially Manglish-related ones.

    Women and teenagers often send more emotional SMS messages. In my opinion, this is because of the social norms in European culture, where men are expected to be stoic compared to women. This expectation is slowly being eroded as men express themselves creatively nowadays.

    In the study, users in the 20-24 age group were more likely to capitalize and punctuate their messages. This may be attributed to the fact that these users are usually in tertiary education, and the formalities of university may influence the way they compose their SMS messages. The researcher doesn't really address why young Norwegian adults tend to use relatively formal punctuation, so this is just a guess.

    Perhaps the researcher could study the effects of social class and education level on the sociolinguistic features of SMS messages, as many people from various walks of life have at least one cell phone at this time of writing. The article does not make any mention of the general social class of the randomly sampled Norwegians, although a pilot study was carried out on small-town teenagers. To sum up, the sociolinguistic features of SMS messages is a good research topic, although Rich Ling or another researcher could expand on this.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Pondering on Prudence

Prudence, a noun and a name, a virtuous one at that. Supposedly for good judgement. The first time I saw this name was when I read Enid Blyton's "Summer Term at Saint Clare's."

Prudence at Saint Clare's.
Unfortunately, the Prudence who features there is a hypocrite and a spiteful sort. Pretty much the opposite of good judgement. First of all, Prudence Arnold makes nasty remarks on almost everyone, and constantly tries to get her opinion heard.

Her first line of dialogue is a mean remark about Sadie "being a bad influence" on the class, simply because Sadie is an American. Later, she complains that playing cards will lead to gambling, and tries to get the others to debate on feminist issues. The other students blow her off as being uptight.

It is mentioned by Blyton that Prudence was brought up in a vicarage, under the strict eye of her parents. This may be part of the reason Prudence thinks she is better than the other students at school. She is portrayed by Blyton as a manipulative person, only befriending those who could help her and ignoring everyone else. She befriends Pamela because of her great intelligence, and tries to strike a friendship with Sadie after learning that Sadie will inherit a fortune as an adult.

Prudence is also unwilling to help the other students due to her mix of loner and self-righteousness. When Janet (a trickster) accidentally spills some water on Prudence, the latter starts complaining and saying that Jane meant to do so on purpose. Janet tries to get Prudence to tell the form teacher to let her off, but Prudence refuses because Janet and Bobby (Roberta) constantly play "silly" tricks in class.

Prudence did not even consider that Janet needed to go to watch a film in order to complete her history assignment, but continued to push her serious attitude in this case. Adding insult to injury, she mocks Janet for having to write out Prudence's homework notes. Bobby tried to help Janet out by imitating her writing, but Prudence, bearing a grudge, makes a fuss out of this. This causes even more trouble to the class and the other students start to notice her spiteful nature.

Throughout the novel, Prudence also sneers at Carlotta and tries to smear her reputation by finding out about the latter's background. Prudence is under the impression that if the other girls know that Carlotta isn't from a noble background, they will snub her. This backfires because the other girls happen to like circuses and aren't so particular about good backgrounds.

Another incident in the book brings Prudence's hypocritical nature to light. Bobby's second trick with a squealing biscuit irritates the French teacher into threatening the class with a test the next day. Prudence, fearing a scolding from the headmistress if she fails the test, thinks that it would be a good idea to look up the questions and answers for the test, then get top marks.

Prudence tries to explain Bobby's joke to the French teacher, hoping to sneak a look at the test as it is prepared. The French teacher becomes irritated with Prudence and sends her away. That night, Prudence decides to sneak into the teacher's room and look up the test that way. She is caught by Bobby and Carlotta. When Bobby tells Prudence off for being a hypocrite, she cries and causes the headmistress to come and investigate the situation.

It would have been better for Prudence if she studied for the test the honest way even if she didn't get good marks, in my opinion. For some reason, the French teacher decides not to hold the test after all, rendering Prudence's attempt to cheat worthless.

Near the end of the novel, Prudence becomes an accessory to kidnapping completely by mistake, thinking that a letter from a shady character was meant for Carlotta. Spite clouded her mind and made her irrational, so she went along with the shady guy's plan despite being warned by Pamela.

Personally, I believe that Prudence was expelled mainly for attempted cheating, and her part in Sadie's kidnapping was the last straw. If her serious attitude had been tempered by a kindly or just nature, she might have been able to stay on at Saint Clare's.

Why the name, if its bearer was the opposite?
I was struck mainly by the sound of it, and thought it would make a good pseudonym for someone who has completed her journeyman years. The unusual sound and virtuous meaning is why Purpure adopted Prudence as her time-traveling name, despite its rarity.

As for Prudence Trenton (alias Purpure), she is just as serious as Prudence Arnold, but Miss Trenton's serious nature is tempered by a love of jokes and the occasional trick. Miss Trenton is also very forthright and honest about everything except where she really comes from. As far as anyone can get out of Miss Trenton, she's from England.

Purpure might not be from a good background, as she's a bastard child, but she stepped beyond it to leave a legacy of an intelligent traveler with a sense of justice.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Article summary: Linguistic features in Norwegian SMS. (Part 2)

Part 1 of the summary can be found here.

This study was conducted by Rich Ling in the early 2000's, thus some of the phones described have older features.

Statistical summary.

The messages were analysed by their type/token ratio, defined as the number of different words (type) compared to the total number of words (token). The researcher's hypothesis is that the faster a medium of producing language becomes, the lower the type/token ratio would be. The researcher also justifies the hypothesis, saying that writing by hand, or even writing for formal purposes takes a long time, and one would be likely to draw on a wider range of words when there is a longer delay between thought and expressing said thought.

However, based on the type/token ratio of the studied SMS messages, it appears that SMS is an unusual case. The range of type/token ratios mentioned in the article is between 0.487 and 0.609. SMS messages are typed in with the keypad of one's cell phone, which can take a longer time to produce coherent messages.

According to the hypothesis stated in the previous paragraph, a slower method of writing should give more time for the user to think of different words, leading to a higher type/token ratio. The results in the article show otherwise, having an average type/token ratio compared to several reference texts.

The researcher points out this discrepancy by stating that SMS users often have to focus on the writing tool, that is, the keypads of their phones, so they are less likely to think of unusual words. Users between the ages of 16 to 19 years of age have the lowest type/token ratio, whereas users between the ages of 35 and 44 have the highest type/token ratio.

When the messages were analysed by mean word and message length as well as complexity, there were no statistically significant differences in the length of words between genders or age groups. There was also no significant age-based difference in the mean number of words per message. There were gender-based differences in SMS message complexity and number of words in a message.

Women were more likely to write longer and more complex SMS messages, with 6.95 words per message on average. In contrast, men tend to write simpler and shorter messages, with an average of 5.54 words per message. Females in the 16-19 age group were found to write the highest amount of complex SMS messages, while males in the same age group wrote the simplest messages.

Surprisingly enough, abbreviations weren't used often in the sampled SMS messages, and any abbreviations that showed up were mainly used by teenagers and young adults. Users who were between 20 and 24 years of age were also more likely to capitalize and punctuate their messages properly. Besides, women or younger users wrote most of the messages that included salutations or closing phrases.

The article concludes that SMS messages have features of both spoken and written language with their own unique characteristics. SMS messages are similar to spoken language in terms of immediate communication and informality. SMS is similar to writing in the assumption that the participants aren't in close proximity, and the text of an SMS message can be edited before the message is sent.

The unique characteristics of SMS messages arise from the electronic medium they originated in, such as the ability to save messages in one's cell phone. These messages only last as long as the phone's memory remains intact, which may not be as long as a letter's storage period. Norwegian women are more likely to send complex SMS messages, express their feelings and plan for more immediate events. Young adults are more likely to write messages that contain advanced capitalization and punctuation.