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What questions and answers would you include in an FAQ? Here are some of the questions and popular answers I've seen here a number of times. What questions and answers would you add? FAQ Publishing Can I publish without an academic affiliation This is a qualified yes. Its much more difficult to publish without an institutional affiliation, especially if you are a true outsider to academia. For one thing, journals often have fees in the hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish. Another aspect to consider is that academic publishing has incredibly high standards. Its difficult to learn and understand these expectations and standards if you havent been trained in academia. Its a part of the “soft curriculum” that you learn in graduate school. How do I access articles outside of a university? Publishing companies make money both by charging fees to download articles, charging university libraries for subscriptions, and by charging academics to publish. You can request a “reprint” for free from one of the authors of the article, and they will generally send you a copy for free. There is also a legally grey area of using scihub to access articles. Why does this publisher want things in such an archaic format? They were sold software 15 years ago, and never bothered to upgrade. They also dont often submit to their own journal so they arent aware of how odd it would be to include a fax number, or send typewritten pages. How often should I be publishing at (career stage) This is entirely dependent on your sub-field. Look at people who have the job you want and see how often the were publishing when at your stage. How do you track citations when writing an academic article? There are a number of software packages designed for this ranging from free to quite expensive, and which you use depends on where you find your articles, and what software you use for word processessing, as well as what your collaborators and co-authors have standardized on. Endnote is often available as an institutional subscription. Many use free options such as zotero or mendelay. If you like to write in google docs, Paperpile is a good option. Options are different still, if you use LaTeX. How important is impact factor, or other metrics to selecting a journal? It depends on your field and career stage. IF matters more prior to tenure, or job search. How do I select a journal to publish in. Experience. What journals published the papers you cited in the article? How important is publishing as a PhD student? Generally speaking, very. Some fields have different requirements, though. Some might expect that PhD research would generate a book at an academic press. Others might expect 1-6 papers in decent peer reviewed journals in your field. You find out by asking your adviser for their expectations. I changed my name when I got married/transitioned. Should I continue to publish under my old name, or start publishing under my new name? Unfortunately the academic publishing system was largely designed in a period when most academics were men who did not change their names at marriage. This can make it difficult to track an academics publications when they change their last name. Some change names, and simply list all their publications on their google scholar, CV, or other publication list. Others continue to use their pre-marriage or pre-transition name on publicaitons. This is a personal choice. My adviser published my work after I left the group, and (included my name without permission/did not include my name. What is my recourse? Start by contacting your former adviser. You can escalate to an ombudsperson or an editor at the journal. Conferences How much of my conference time should be spent working? At least most of it. Make sure to attend at least some events each day. You can go to dinner at night, or take a day to explore the city youre visiting, but youre mostly there to work. Do conferences go on your CV? This is field dependent. In some fields such as computer science conference publications are a more important unit of academic productivity than they are in others. Look at the CV of someone else in your field, and see how they organize them. I have never been to a conference before, what should I expect? Travel early so that you have time to get relax before the conference itself. Conferences are overwhelming. Get to your hotel, change into clean clothes, watch some TV, then head over to registration. Dont feel you have to go to every session. Asking questions at talks is an important way to become recognizable to more established researchers in your field. Likewise going to poster sessions and meeting and talking to lots of people is a great way to make connections and get to know younger people in your field. If you get the chance make some conference friends. Its very rewarding to have people that you look forward to seeing every year. Im nervous about speaking, how do I prepare? Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Rope people into a practice talk. Make sure that your have the introduction and conclusion down pat. Make sure that every slide is simplified to: an image, and maybe one or two explanatory lines. No one wants to read giant text blocks. Have one big idea per slide. How do I “network” at a conference? The word networking is intimidating, but really its just talking to people. Ask questions after talks, approach people at posters and ask questions or compliment them. Go to the dinners and sit next to strangers. Bring business cards to hand out with your name and academic affiliation. Dissertations Is it normal to feel ‘empty after defending my dissertation? Yes, this is very common. The phenomenon goes by several names. Post achievement depression, success hangover, or the arrival fallacy. The arrival fallacy is the fallacious belief that you will achieve happiness when some goal is reached. As you approach that goal, you have already included those accomplishments in your perception of the world, so the new achievement just seems status quo. Learn to celebrate your accomplishments, regardless of that feeling. How do I select a dissertation topic? You should be having regular meetings with your adviser and committee, and they should be helping you develop your research. If your project has already gone through peer review several time by the time you defend, it will be difficult for your committee to turn it down. What happens if I fail? You need to listen to your adviser and committee. They wont propose that you defend until they know youll pass. A failing student is an embarrassment, that they dont want. For the most part the only students who fail are the ones who ignore the advise of their committee and defend too early. Relationships Should I date (a faculty member/a student) No. Generally speaking this kind of relationship is a bad idea. There are inherent power imbalances in a relationship between people who work together, but have different ranks. Its especially bad if one advises the other, or teaches them in a class. Look up the faculty handbook for your university for the specific rules regarding faculty/student relationships. Some forbid it expressly, some discourage it, some forbid it if one is in a direct position of power over the other. Others will advise you to follow your heart when you find the opportunity. Each situation is unique, and the best you can do use to use whatever your best judgment is, being fully aware of the potential consequences. When is the right time to have kids? There is no ‘good time. Do it when it feels right for you and your partner, and make your academic life work around it. Life is happening now, not at some indeterminable point in the future. Should I ask out my labmate/coworker Always ask yourself: “If this goes south and I still have to work with this person after the breakup, how will we both feel? ” Also “If he or she rejects me, will I be too embarrassed to work with them in the future. Plagiarism My (paper/dissertation) was plagiarized, what do I do? Contact the journal editor and report the plagiarism. If you need to escalate go to an ombudsperson at their university or their chair. I was caught plagiarizing, what do I do? Show genuine contrition, and convince the people punishing you that youve learned why what you did was wrong, and will never do it again. My student plagiarized, what do I do? Look up your university policy on academic dishonesty. See what you wrote in your syllabus. Before you act, make sure you have evidence that proves the cheating. Administration wont always take your side, so make sure you have all your ducks in a row before punishing a student for academic dishonesty. Sexual Harassment I am being sexually harassed by another student, a colleague, my adviser, or someone else. First make sure that you are safe. In the US you should go to your universitys title IX officer, and report the harassment. They will help you with next steps and who to contact. My adviser acts weird around me, but it hasnt risen to the level of sexual harassment, what can I do? Communicate to them whats making you uncomfortable. Barring that, have a discussion with a neutral party in the university. I was at a conference/after work party and people were acting weird. What can I do? Communicate what made you uncomfortable. Correspondence How do I write to a professor? Will it annoy them? Use a formal letter format with their title, and a salutation at the end. Use good grammar, and address them by their earned academic title or position. If they hold a PhD, do not refer to them as Mr. Ms. Or Mrs. If you are unsure, “professor” is fine, even if they are an adjunct. Dear Dr. X: Sincerely, Y This person isnt answering my emails in a timely manner, how often can I follow up? Some people are just really, really bad at email. Worst case scenario you may have to stop by their office during office hours. Dont go to their house or call their home phone. Is it okay to write to this person and ask them for x? Generally speaking, it cant hurt to ask. The worst someone can say is no. Job Search/Applications The referent for my applications hasnt submitted their letter of recommendation and there are only a few days remaining, what do I do? Its not uncommon for referents to wait until the last minute to submit a letter. It is reasonable to send a reminder a few days before the letters are due. Committees usually recognize that letters are out of your hands, so they should be okay with someone who gets the letter in late. Should I ask (x) person for a letter? Make sure its someone who knows you well, and will remember you. Someone you saw often in office hours or worked with on a project. If they say “I dont know that I can write you a great letter. ” Thats a sign to look for someone else. It helps when asking for a letter to pre-write a draft letter about yourself for them to modify and then submit. This seems weird, but it makes it 1000x easier for the person writing the letter. A student asked me for a letter, but I dont remember them, or cant give them a good recommendation, what do I do? Gently suggest that they would be better off going to someone else for a letter. If they dont get the message, tell them in clear terms that you wont write them a good letter. Dont write a negative letter. This can result legal liability, and it isnt fair to the student. Dont even do the “damning faint praise” thing. Send them to someone who can recommend them. How many jobs should I be applying to? Many academic jobs get 100-200 applications for a single spot. You may need to put in this many applications to get a single spot. The most openings are usually in the late summer or fall. Start more than a year before youll be on the market and create your basic application. Apply to everything that even remotely fits your needs. The process can be dehumanizing, and not every committee will write back with a no. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of jobs youre interested in, which youve applied to, what the deadlines are, and if youve received invitations to phone interview, in person interview, or received an offer. What should I expect on a phone interview? Youll be on a conference call with the committee. Theyll ask you at least: Why our school? When would you be able to start? Would you be happy in (location) They may ask About your teaching philosophy A lay rundown of your research Your grant plan over the next three years Ballpark startup needs Who in the department you might see being able to collaborate with. You should prepare for the phone interview by writing out answers to those questions, and printing out and having in front of you: Profiles of anyone you know is on the hiring committee The mission statement of the university Questions for the committee Safe questions for the committee give them a chance to brag and dont embarrass them Ask about the department environment Ask what distinguishes their students Ask what they think you should know that you havent asked Ask about the promotion and tenure processes What should I expect from an in person interview At least a day of rapid fire 30-minute interviews with everyone in the department At least one dinner with the entire committee, or chair A talk which may be research, a teaching demonstration, or a combination of these A formal meeting and interview with the hiring committee. A possible meeting with the dean Keep in mind that you are being interviewed from the second you get off of the airplane. You need to be “on” the entire time, and dont let your guard down to drink too much at dinner. How many graduate programs should I apply to Usually 9-12 is a good number, depending on your field, background, and what you can afford. How do I choose an adviser? One important thing thats often overlooked is talking to other students. Ask what theyre like to work with. Ask if theyre a creep. Ask how long other students have taken to graduate. Make sure they dont have anger issues. Ask if you can see what some of their previous advisees have gone on to do.
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The kindness of strangers free download movies. The kindness of strangers free download pdf. The kindness of strangers free download game. Woke up this morning. I was doing so good but today, I could no longer remember the reasons why I was doing this. The instant I woke up, junkie thoughts crept in, visciously digging into me. "You didn't even really want to quit. You probably won't get cancer or some other horrible disease. Everyone has to die anyway. Life just isn't enjoyable without it. What will you do when you're bored? You hate feeling full, cigarettes help that. You were never happy anyhow, so why not just keep enjoying this one small thing. My thoughts were spinning so far out of control. I called out of work. No way, I said. No fucking way I can make this a reality. I went back to sleep, at to. I haven't actually slept. Ive been on the brink of sleeping since last wednesday, but never fully passing out. They forget to tell you how bad your insomnia gets when you quit. You're sleeping with one eye open, almost literally. I woke up hours later, still feeling the same ache and panic. The void is unforgiving. It's dark, seemingly no end in sight. The ultimate something is missing. I am missing a piece of me. I almost broke. I had my shoes on. I was going on a walk. No, no that was the lie I was telling myself. I knew that the first step I took out that door wouldn't be just for a nice distracting stroll. I was slowly caving. My feet would have redirected me towards the store down the road. The habitual lighter I carry in my pocket would have been put to use. The past 4 days of psychological strain I put on myself would have been a waste. Then I heard it. That little voice of inside me. The one that made me realize I needed to give this disgusting shit up in the first place. The voice that helped me understand that I had spent the last 12 years lying to myself, and finally got my head out of the sand. It's been there all along, I just wasn't ready to listen to it until now. Instead of ignoring that voice and continuing on with this surrender, I stopped dead in my tracks. I listened to it. I paced around the house for a full 15mins, crying and panicking. The urge to go buy that pack and suck down as many as I could was overloading my senses. I couldn't think beyond "go have a smoke" over and over and over again. But, I didn't do it. I sat down on the couch, kicked off my shoes begrudgingly, sat there and cried for another 15mins. Then I got up, chugged a glass of water, put my pajamas on and downloaded Allen Carrs audio book that I saw so many people on this sub mentioning as the key to their success and listened. I started listening at 10am. During this time I got up, started doing some chores and continued to digest the information entering my mind and really apply it to my own addiction. This decision did NOT come easy. I did NOT want to be strong in that moment, I wanted to give up and go back to my illusion that I enjoy smoking. So. Fucking. Badly. I remembered the thought I had when putting the last one out 5 days ago. I smoked that whole cigarette sitting there thinking to myself how badly I wish this didn't control my badly I wanted to give this up. I'm so glad that I did not crack, and instead hunkered down, found a source of support and dug my heels in wholeheartedly. I wish that I had started off my journey with this book, but you can't change the past. I have the previous 4 days of experience and perspective, and now I have a refreshed, and redesigned sense of perspective. I remember now every single reason that I wanted to quit, and have a brand new way of viewing this as FREEDOM. I am not sacrificing anything. I am setting myself free of slavery to something that adds NOTHING to my quality of life. If you had read this through, thank you for your time. I hope my moment of overcoming weakness helps at least one person know that they're not in this fight alone. The things you feel are real, they are a product of drug addiction. You are not alone, and you are not weak. If I can do this as a self-depreciating, chronically depressed, bored and apathetic person, so can you. In fact, I'm probably self-deprecating, chronically depressed and bored BECAUSE of the effects of smoking. Just another reason to move on and never look back! One step at a time. One day at a time. Edited- a few typos, also I realized that my badge only says 3 days which isn't correct, hoping to get that corrected. *Thank you to the kind stranger who awarded me my first silver.
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The Kindness of Strangers free download mp3. This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over 406 billion web pages on the Internet. Autobiographical Access-restricted-item true Addeddate 2012-07-18 15:56:07 Bookplateleaf 0007 Boxid IA160022 Boxid_2 CH118901 Camera Canon EOS 5D Mark II City New York [u. a. ] Donor alibris Edition [1st ed. ] External-identifier urn:oclc:record:1035906845 Extramarc University of Pennsylvania Franklin Library Foldoutcount 0 See also WorldCat (this item) comment Reviews There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write a review. 91 Borrows 1 Favorite DOWNLOAD OPTIONS Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files. Uploaded by Lotu Tii on July 18, 2012 SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata.
On a quiet street in the suburban Midwest, a popular, seemingly stable family keeps a terrible, dark secret behind closed doors. a secret that will have life-changing consequences for all who know them Sarah Laden, a young widow and mother of two, struggles to keep her family together. Since the death of her husband, her high-school-age son, Nate, has developed a rebellious streak, constantly falling in and out of trouble. Her kindhearted younger son, Danny, though well behaved, struggles to pass his remedial classes. All the while, Sarah must make ends meet by running a catering business out of her home. But when a shocking and unbelievable revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another young boy into her already tumultuous life. Jordan, a quiet and reclusive elementary-school boy and classmate of Danny's, has survived a terrible tragedy, leaving him without a family. When Sarah becomes Jordan's foster mother, a relationship develops that will force her to question the things of which she thought she was so sure. Yet Sarah is not the only one changed by this young boy, and as the delicate balance that holds her family together begins to falter, the Ladens will all face truths about themselves and one another. and discover the power of love to forgive and to heal. Powerful and poignant, The Kindness of Strangers is a shocking look at how the tragedy of a single family in a small suburban town can affect so many. Katrina Kittle has created a haunting vision of the secret lives of the people we think we know best. Through gripping and heartrending storytelling, The Kindness of Strangers shows that even after the most grave injuries, redemption is always possible. + Read more.
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Naw I got it, I just find it offensive and unprofessional. The kindness of strangers free download book. The kindness of strangers free download version. The kindness of strangers free download torrent. Hey everyone. 25 years ago today, Marathon released for Mac computers. A landmark game in the FPS genre, its in-depth story and groundbreaking gameplay innovations set the stage for then-fledgling game company Bungie. For the 25th Anniversary, I reached out to Matt Soell, former community moderator, writer, and designer at Bungie. He was kind enough to agree to an interview, and answer my questions regarding his time at Bungie and his work on the Marathon series. What series of events lead you to working at Bungie? In December of 1994, I was a broke college student still living with my parents. My previous job (temp labor in an M&M/Mars factory on the outskirts of Chicago) had ended a few months earlier and I didn't have any cash for luxuries like video games. When Christmas came, I was sad that no one had thought to give me Marathon, the demo of which I had been re-playing obsessively since I'd downloaded it from AOL on Thanksgiving morning. So on December 26 I called MacWarehouse, one of the mail-order titans that still existed in that pre-Amazon era, and splurged on a copy of Marathon. It was the last thing I was able to buy before my credit card got cut off for nonpayment. The game showed up at my doorstep a few days later and quickly became the only thing I cared about. Wake up, play Marathon, eat, play more Marathon, eat again, play Marathon again, sleep, repeat. With no job and a few weeks between semesters at university, I was able to do this every day for a while. On Thursdays I would break this routine long enough to walk down to the record store and pick up a copy of the Chicago Reader, a free weekly newspaper where I looked for job listings. A couple weeks after getting Marathon, one of the Help Wanted ads caught my eye: Tech Support. Must know Mac, games a plus. I probably called the number in the ad a dozen separate times before I got something other than a busy signal, but when I did get through and the voice mail recording said "Thank you for calling Bungie Software. I was stunned. The people who made the game that had taken over my life were right there in Chicago, and they were looking for help! Unfortunately, Bungie's phones were swamped with calls about Marathon — thus the Help Wanted ad — and I ended up calling for a few days before someone picked up. That someone was Alexander Seropian, who invited me to come in for an interview. I impressed him by having some knowledge of Bungie's games, and demonstrating how I could explain Marathon's arcane installation process to someone who had no familiarity with segmented Compact Pro archives. He called a week later to offer me the tech support job. Bungie turned 28 years old this year. How does it feel looking back at the then small video-game startup, acknowledging the entertainment juggernaut it has become today? The scale of Bungie's current success is beyond anything I would have imagined 25 years ago, when it was a handful of guys in one cold room making games for the Macintosh. In those days, Bungie was very much a shoestring operation, struggling for public recognition; now there is an entire generation of gamers who have only known Bungie as titans of the industry. I'm happy to have been there for the beginning of that incredible ascent, and to have witnessed it from the inside. The Marathon Scrapbook touches upon a moment near the end of Marathon: Durandal's development, in which Jason Jones required staff to complete the game from beginning to end in one sitting, resulting in you finishing last and stumbling home late into the night. Do you remember any particular details of this night? I don't have a copy of the Scrapbook to hand, but I think I may have been stuck there all night. I have vague memories of riding the train, head buzzing from caffeine, eyes squinting from the blazing sunrise, and falling asleep as soon as I got home. I remember one particular map where I was stuck for ages; I was convinced there was a game-breaking bug until Greg Kirkpatrick pointed out a barely-visible ledge on a distant wall, which suddenly seemed so obvious that only a fool could miss it. Maybe my eyes were just having a bad night. "Man in the Online Asbestos Suit" seems like a fitting name for someone who has to deal with an internet community. What do you believe is the most important thing you've learned from interacting with a game's community on a large scale, be it from bouncing phone calls or creating websites? A lot of times, the asbestos suit can stay on its hanger if you make people aware that a human being is listening to them. People are so accustomed to being mistreated and blown off by companies that they feel they'll only be heard if they're spitting venom. We tried to maintain that level of approachability, even on those occasions when we had to keep certain things secret. The community did so much of the heavy lifting, building spaces where they could gather and debate and post fan art/fiction/videos/etc. I'm not sure they would have been moved to do as much of that if we'd been a faceless corporate monolith. We made our share of mistakes along the way, but we also made some long-standing friends and built a community of fans that persists to this day. What lead to you working at Certain Affinity? Did company founder and former Bungie designer Max Hoberman reach out to you? It was actually the other way around. After my time at Wideload Games ended, Alex Seropian pointed me toward a development studio in Austin who were looking for someone like me. In the course of researching them, I learned that they had done a bit of work for Certain Affinity, so I emailed Max to ask his impressions of them. As it happened, CA was also looking for a writer at the time, so I did a little contract work for them, which led to an interview and ultimately a job offer. This past Tuesday was my sixth-year anniversary as a Certain Affinity employee. It's one of the largest independent AAA game studios, but Max has managed to infuse it with the same spirit that made Bungie great. Do you still keep in touch with anyone from Bungie? Yes, very much so. Those of us who were there in the early years shared a particularly intense bonding experience. We're scattered to the corners of the earth now, but we all have social media and when two or more of us are in the same town we'll usually find a way to get together. What are your thoughts on Bungie's current status? Part of me will always think of Bungie as that handful of people working in a nondescript office on the near South Side. Back then, most of the mainstream gaming press wrote off Marathon as a subpar Doom clone; if they spoke of Bungie at all, they were dismissive and contemptuous. To witness the burgeoning success of the company up close (and to play a minuscule part in it) was thrilling. In the early days when we talked about world domination, it was done with a nudge and a wink because that was clearly out of the question for a tiny group of bookish goofballs making Macintosh games full of esoteric references and arcane storylines. Twenty-five years later, Bungie is a lot closer to world domination than any of the naysayers would have guessed — and while there have been some missteps along the way, they've managed to retain a lot of what makes them so special in the first place. Personal thoughts on Marathon 25 years later? I've played a lot of video games, but it's no exaggeration to say Marathon is the only game that literally changed my life. That would still be true even if I hadn't gotten the job at Bungie. From my first playthrough of the demo it was obvious that some mysterious strangers in Chicago had raised the bar for storytelling in videogames. It's impossible for someone who wasn't there to look back at it now and experience it as people did in 1994, but at the time it seemed a huge stride forward. It became impossible to settle for lesser efforts. Special thanks to Matt Soell for agreeing to answer my questions, and for having a part in a series that holds a special place in my heart. Tune in next time for a Q/A sesh with Doug Zartman.
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The Kindness of Strangers free download soccer. Lol no one puts baby in a corner 😂. The kindness of strangers free download pc. Why NieR:Automata matters; a story of emotions, animations, gods, freedom and Coca-Cola Following the positive and constructive comments I've gotten on my Max Payne 2 review, here's a new one. This review is spoiler-free, includes a fair amount of context and history (honestly, my favorite part) sources as much as possible, gameplay videos and screenshots. I hope you'll enjoy it. More than anything, I hope it will pique your interest about this game and the minds behind it. Introduction Have you played it? Most of you probably heard about NieR:Automata before, but have you played it? Maybe you thought that was just another weeaboo kusoge. Maybe you thought it was just a dumb beat 'em up game. Maybe you simply thought it looked bad. Or maybe you played it but didn't feel like it was anything special. If so, you missed out on a very interesting, and quite important videogame. Think this is an overstatement? You're wrong, and hopefully this review will change your mind. Before jumping into the review As I mentioned, the main reason people haven't played this game is probably because they looked up a random review or video and thought 'Ok this is a cheap looking JRPG with a nude female character. Pass. and honestly, I can't argue with that. It's true that most reviews simply overlooked the context, history and vision of this game. Without these key elements, the game does look like a cheap JRPG with an almost naked female character. And that's exactly why I'm reviewing it. I'll start off by telling you more about Taro Yoko, Nier creator: his games and his ideas. Then I'll talk about the actual game, Nier: Automata, reviewing its story, gameplay, technical aspect, sounds and music, and the overall experience. I'll finish by talking about open-world games. For the sake of clarity The game is titled Nier: Automata but stylized as NieR:Automata. I'll randomly use both. I'll be calling Yokō Tarō using the English name order: Taro Yoko. 横尾太郎 The mind Taro Yoko (Yokō Tarō in Japanese) is a 49 years old game director and writer. He initially was a 3D CG developer, but somehow was asked to be director for Cavia's Drakengard (2003. He also got involved with the sequel game (Drakengard 2, 2005. He then decided to work on a third entry in the Drakengard series, which ended up being a spin-off: Nier (2010. After making a 'true sequel' to Drakengard (Drakengard 3, 2013) Taro Yoko and Square Enix decided to continue the Nier series. Taro Yoko's games are known for being dark, but also weird. As he says, weird games are made by and for weird people. And it's true that he has some really unique ideas and theories about games and how to make them. Vision When creating a game, Taro Yoko sets a goal, a vision. Elements like gameplay, story, or music are merely ways to reach that goal. His goal with Nier was to move the player. Back in the late 2000s, he realized new games weren't conveying emotions like older games used to and decided to create a game that would make players react. In order to do this, he used an interesting method of writing. Emotions Imagine a random character dying in a game, that's not very emotional, right? You kill a lot of NPCs in a game like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. Now imagine a character dying after you've spent 30 hours with them. That's better, but what if you didn't really care about this character? Not really emotional. Ok, now imagine this character's a young innocent girl. And she can't walk, she's disabled. And she's abused by others. And she gets killed on the day she can finally walk again. Now that would be emotional. Usually, games are written in a straight forward way. It means, they start off with a young innocent girl, then they add tragic events surrounding that girl, and then they realize the story needs emotions so they decide to have that girl killed. But that's not how Taro Yoko writes his stories. He decides when the emotional peak will be first, then he goes backwards and build up to that peak, adding elements (i. e. young girl, disabled, abused, etc. throughout the story at the right pace. He calls this 'backwards scriptwriting. It makes your story much more exciting and your emotional peaks much more emotional because you've been building up towards these from the very beginning. Potential of games Characters dying is pretty common in videogames, though. Let's keep this example of the young disabled girl tragically dying. It would be emotional, but you wouldn't really react to it because you've experienced this in many games. What if you could save her by deleting your save data? What if the game gave you that choice? Now you would react to this, because it's emotional and it's uncommon. You probably never ever faced a situation like this in a game, however you concur it's not impossible. i. it doesn't require a huge budget, or break any law, or anything like that. It's perfectly possible. Yet it's extremely uncommon. Let's imagine a circle representing the potential of games. What can be done within a game. Everything outside of that circle can't be done (e. g. asking the player to kill someone in real life, or cut the power in the player's house. Now let's imagine a circle within that circle. The inner circle is what's commonly done in games. The outer circle is what isn't done, or very rarely. (An interesting exercise would be to try and place curious design you encounter in games somewhere in that circle. Taro Yoko sees an invisible wall between these two circles, limiting the potential of games. He says he's been trying to break that wall for 20 years. Breaking the wall In 2013, Coca-Cola launched a campaign called 'Small World Machines. Basically, they placed a Coca-Cola machine in a city in India, and another one in a city in Pakistan. As you may know, these two countries live in conflict. Both machine were connected and one could interact directly with the person using the other machine via a touch screen. Taro Yoko was deeply influenced and impacted by that campaign (as he was by the 9/11 events, which are a major inspiration for the original Nier game) and wanted to do something similar with his game. Have players interact with each other and show them that there's something beyond that wall. That's his goal, his vision. Ok, enough with theories, let's talk games, shall we? NieR:Automata More context I swear I'll get to to Nier: Automata soon, but before that we need a little bit more context around the game. The original Nier game received mixed reviews. Most people agreed it had a fantastic soundtrack, great combat gameplay and an interesting story. However, the game was criticized for its mix of gameplay systems which felt clunky, its boring quests and, mainly, its poor visuals. The game sold around 700, 000 copies as of 2018. Square Enix wanted to correct these flaws and contacted PlatinumGames to work on the sequel with Taro Yoko. Production started in 2014. What PlatinumGames brought PlatinumGames was founded in 2007 in Japan and became famous for their beat 'em up action games such as MadWorld (2009) Bayonetta (2009) Vanquish (2010) or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013. Most, if not all of their games have been critically acclaimed for their smooth and exciting gameplay. One thing they have in common with Taro Yoko is that they want to explore unconventional design and mechanics. The team has a lot of young (and talented) people and everyone's invited to give creative ideas during the production of their games. It's worth noting that they also have veteran developers, as the studio was partly founded by ex-Clover Studio (Viewtiful Joe, Ōkami, God Hand) developers. Nier: Automata was their first A-RPG, as well as their first open world game, so it was an exciting challenge for them. According to game designer Takahisa Taura, you can tell a good or bad gameplay (in an action game) by the level of perfection of the animation, the connection between animations, the input response, the visual and sound effects, and some other parameters. These are the key parameters for Nier: Automata's gameplay, though. They used a lot of flags for every animation in the game to ensure that it looks and feels good. Without going much into details, here's an example of an animation flag given by Takahisa, and how it improves the gameplay: Setting a flag at the start of an attack animation to make the character automatically face the nearest enemy makes the gameplay look better, but also feel better. It would be very frustrating if you had to turn around and perfectly face an enemy before actually attacking him. They also worked a lot on input response. Reducing input response means that the attack animation and the attack effect (dealing damage to the enemy) occur almost at the same time, and as shortly as possible after the player's input. Input response has also been reduced through game design: they placed no restriction on jumping or evading, which allows to cancel any other move. Once again, less frustration. Finally, they adjusted animations timing to actually 'feel good' quicker animations aren't always smoother. The result NieR:Automata was released in February 2017. It received very positive reviews. The game was praised for its unique direction, interesting and engaging story, exciting combat, and stunning soundtrack (which won several awards. Negative comments were mainly aimed at the subpar textures and clunky PC port. The game sold over 4 millions copies as of today. Major improvement from the original Nier. The review Finally. As a reminder, I'm reviewing (in this order) the story, the gameplay, the technical aspect (graphics, visuals, performance) and the sounds and music. I played the game on PC, with a mod that only allows native resolution and a few bug fixes (cf. Technical part. Story I'm starting off with the story because it dictates a lot of other gameplay elements. The story is set in the year 11945 AD. About five thousands years ago, aliens invaded Earth and killed almost everyone with an army of machines. Few survivors managed to escape to the Moon where they started creating androids to fight those machines and ultimately the aliens. You play as YoRHa No. 2 Type B ( 2B. a battle android, accompanied by her pod (basically an assistant AI) and 9S, a non-battle android. Androids are equipped with chips (system chips, combat chips, support chips, etc. and have their data saved regularly. So if an android gets destroyed, there's a back-up data available to create a new one with the same name, persona and memories. Here's a cutscene introducing 2B and her pod. Interesting things to note: pod's voice and subtitles are not sped-up; it's just listing all the damage taken by whatever got destroyed in a very AI-like way. 2B says 「見ればわかるよ」 which would translate to «I can see that», even though she's wearing a blindfolds and isn't facing the enemies. Those blindfolds are actually a heads-up display and her dress is literally part of her 'body. I think this is a pretty important thing when building a world: does it make sense? In this case, it perfectly does. Everything's justified. Of course they didn't have to go for a big booty girl in high heels. Or maybe that's because the humans who created androids are just perverted men? But anyways, I think that's the most important thing about the story in this game: it all makes sense. Everything. The story starts off as 2B is sent to Earth in order to work for the resistance against machines. There, she will find more about humankind and her creators. As 2B progresses on Earth and meets new 'people' she starts asking herself concrete questions. Who are gods? Are they really gods? Are machines really different from androids? She'll even befriend with some machines and learn more about this desolated world, and humanity, which will result in learning more about herself. Because not all machines are enemies, as a matter of fact machines weren't hostile at first. 2B will find a village full of friendly machines, led by Pascal, a machine who shares his knowledge of humankind with other machines. Here's the first line from the opening scene, it doesn't make much sense until you've completed the game so it's spoiler-free. We are perpetually trapped. in a never-ending spiral of life and death. Is this a curse? Or some kind of punishment? I often think about the god who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle. and wonder if we'll ever have the chance to kill him. I won't comment on the line itself but I just wanted to say, it perfectly describes the story. It's a story about existentialism, humanism, and everything it implies. If you're into philosophy, you'll love the story. If you're not, you'll get into philosophy. And it's not just easter eggs about philosophy like that NPC named 'Jean-Paul. Sartre' in Japanese) who refuses gifts and awards. It goes actually pretty deep into these ideas. Simply put, it's a story of androids finding out who they are, why they exist, who are their gods, and many more. You learn new things about the story as 2B learns new things about her world. And even more; Taro Yoko really uses this game to interact with the players and eventually sending them a pretty interesting message about video games and their creators. Fun fact: the console version offers an interesting installation menu which sets the tone for the story. (Video is spoiler-free, however comments may contain SPOILERS. I think what makes the story so great is that it works on different layers. You can still enjoy the story of 2B learning about her purpose in this place as she explores the world without understanding any of the philosophy messages. Or you can enjoy the philosophy (which isn't abstract at all, it might actually pique your interest) without caring much about 2B's story. But both are tied, and the story gets even more exciting when you have all the key elements, it's just extremely well thought. Everything you do, everything you don't do, everything the characters say or don't say, has a purpose. It all makes sense. Sidequests offer interesting pieces of lore which end up being related to the main story for most of them. The story shares some of its setting with the original Nier but it's not directly related. You can absolutely play it without having ever played the first game. Gameplay Combat is the foundation of NieR:Automata's gameplay. If you've played recent PlatinumGames games, you'll quickly find your mark. The most recent one I played is Bayonetta and I think they greatly improved since then. Combat is extremely dynamic, thanks to a collection of 4 different types of weapons, for a total of about 40 weapons. Of course, different weapons means different combos (and animations, we'll get to that in a second. But it gets even tastier when you can equip two weapons, unlocking more combos depending on your weapons combination. But there's even more to it: your pod also has various combat abilities. Add this to weapons and you have a pretty deep combo system. Here's an example of a crazy combo. And another one. Just to be clear, these two videos are made by a highly skilled player (cf. Sources) you don't have to go crazy like this to kill a basic enemy. But you can. In case this couple of videos didn't make it obvious; the combat in this game feels absolutely fantastic. You can easily unleash a decent combination of attacks thanks to an easy, yet deep system mixed with smooth and stunning animations. You might not realize it because everything's going so fast, but the animations are really something else. It's like Platinum worked on every animation, not just the attack ones, to make sure they didn't look generic by giving them those few extra frames. At some point I simply equipped different weapons and tried all the attacks just to see all the different animations. Small details like this make the gameplay even more exciting. Here's an example, with slow motion in case you missed a detail. NSFW bonus. Yup, they really worked a lot on animations. The game's world is open, as you can freely explore the different areas. From a desolated city to a forest or an amusement park, these areas are varied enough to make exploration interesting. Different items can be picked up; quest items, weapons or consumables. Some of them are well hidden. The world map isn't stupidly large, but it's large enough to be tedious going back and forth if the character's too slow or the controls are a bit clunky. Fortunately, PlatinumGames got you covered there. Moving around is just as easy, smooth and exciting as fighting. Sure, you can walk slowly and enjoy your journey but you can also dash your way through the world. Dashing feels extremely statisfying. It's fast enough considering the map's size and it's super smooth. You can dash in any direction, you can even dash mid-air. Honestly, the controls in general are just a blast, Platinum absolutely nailed it. Here's a sample of me running around the city. More? I'll talk about the difficulty soon but first I have to talk about the 'RPG' side of this Action-RPG. You'll understand why. As I mentioned, the game has quests. Nothing special here, you have a main quest to follow and several sidequests get unlocked (or locked) as you progress through the main one. Quests are varied enough so you don't feel like you're always doing the same thing. Some of them are extremely short, some others are meant to last a little bit longer as you move on with the story. Then there's the chips system. As I mentioned in the Story part, androids are equiped with chips. These give various abilities and effects such as higher attack, longer dash distance, etc. They come in different levels and, just like skills in other A-RPGs, cost a certain amount of resource depending on the level. Each chip takes a certain number of slots and better chips usually require more slots. That's how you build your character. Some of these chips are literally HUD elements. The gameplay blends in really well with the world. You can optimize chips cost via a system that minmaxers will love, allowing for even stronger builds. Now, some of these chips are only available in easy mode as they allow for 'auto' abilities. with the 'Auto Attack' chip, your character will automatically attack enemies. If you equip all of these auto chips, the game basically plays itself. There's an interesting choice behind this. PlatinumGames thought, the same way you can skip cutscenes, you should be able to skip gameplay. So if you somehow absolutely hate the gameplay, but still want to play this game (huh) there's that. Of course you can also play on easy mode without these chips and then you'll have to attack and evade normally. The game comes with four different difficulty settings. I just mentioned about easy mode. I'd recommend normal or hard if you've played a similar game recently. Very hard is a whole other thing as any enemy will kill you in one hit. Which gets even crazier during the shmup sequences. Yes, you read that right. The game has shmup sequences. They blend in and transition very well with the regular gameplay and are exciting too. I believe Square Enix asked PlatinumGames to have a mix of 2D and 3D gameplay. One last thing about the gameplay. The game is split into multiple chapters. No spoilers so all I can say is don't just uninstall the game after you get to the credits. You've only barely scratched the surface. Honestly there's a lot more I could say, but my goal here is to give you an idea of the type and quality of the gameplay, not a comprehensive list of all the features. Did I mention there's fishing in the game? Anyways, the gameplay is super effective, it's smooth and dynamic but not confusing, it's easy but not shallow, and it fits the game's story perfectly. For example, you don't simply 'adjust the voices volume option. You perform a system check on 2B and adjust her settings. In fact, your HUD is actually 2B's. Even the menus. It might sounds stupid but it actually really adds to the immersion. Technical Story? Deep and interesting. Gameplay? Fun and smooth. Now on to the not so good part of the game. As a reminder, I only played the PC (Steam) version and can't comment on the console version. The PC version came out as a total mess. Resolution issues, graphics issues, framerate issues. The worst thing is, I'm playing the game again in late 2019 and it still has the same issues. I literally can't play in native resolution. This is unacceptable. Game comes out with bugs? A shame. Game still has these issues 2 years later, even though the whole community is yelling? Unacceptable. So, in order to decently play NieR:Automata on PC you have to install a third-party mod (link at the end of this review. Shame on whoever was in charge of this port, really. People let it slide because they're blinded by their love for the game but we have to be honest for a second: these games will keep on being released as total messes on PC until we, players, react and tell developers and publishers that releasing a broken game is unacceptable. For the record, I have a GTX 1070, i7-4790K and 16GB RAM which is well above recommended specs. I still get framerate drops, even with the third-party patch. Besides this immense issue, the game is technically below 2017 standards. Framerate is capped at 60 fps without the patch and cutscenes are locked at 30 fps. World textures are bad. Characters are a little better but you rarely see them close-up. Visual effects kind of make it up as they're pretty good. Overall the game is saved by its artistic direction, although the color scheme tends a little bit too much towards grey. It's been mentioned numerous times that Square Enix didn't allow for a huge budget on this game. You can clearly see this on the world map. There are areas that feel like they were straight up cut from the game. The map also feels like it should have been more crowded but they simply couldn't do it. Honestly, it's hard to be critical on this aspect; it's obvious they did the best they could with the technology and budget they (allegedly) had. If we forget about the unbelievably bad port, the game is on par with J-RPG standards, and to be fair you can't expect a 'niche' game like this to lift the bar up. Sounds & music (I'm linking a few Youtube videos in this section so you can listen to the game's music. Beware, comments on these videos may contain spoilers. As you may know, the game won the 'Best Score/Music' award at the 2017 Game Awards. Indeed, the music is top notch. It perfectly captures the gameplay experience and completes the visual experience. Exploring the city ruins wouldn't be the same without this thrilling music. Some of the songs have vocals in a language made up of different real languages, giving a great fantasy sound. Emotional songs for special occasions are high quality too and they'll forever remind you of the events of the game when you hear them. The Japanese voice acting is excellent too, especially 2B. It perfectly captures her cold, determined personality slowly becoming more human. I haven't played the game with English voices but I've read positive comments about them. The machines voice acting is also very interesting and, once again, adds to the world. Unsure if this fits in this section or in 'Technical' but it's important to note that the English subtitles are made for the English voices and aren't accurate if you're playing with Japanese voices. It's not much, but you lose little details, as the androids (especially 2B) in English sound more human than in Japanese. Overall The game is extremely good. It's a lot of fun to play, the story is deep enough that it cannot be figured out until you've got all the key elements, and the world is very interesting. The game's technical issues (on PC) would make me hesitant on paying it at full price, though. However, you should absolutely play this game because it brings original ideas. It's a lot of fresh air in the saturated world of video games. This game matters for its unique writing, its extremely interactive world and its engaging story. It points problems and actually tries and provides solutions. It does it on almost every aspect of its design. I think it's an excellent representation of 'artistic evolution. Taro Yoko sends a pretty clever message to players about their relation to games and their gods. Finally, it shows a lot of games, especially open world games, where, why and how they were wrong. Open world Open world fatigue 'Open world fatigue' is a phenomenon where players get bored, or rather tired, of open world games. This is caused by many things but most people agree it's because they keep repeating the same meaningless tasks in open worlds. The most obvious example would be collectibles. It's a real thing and many people complain about it. Open world games today have larger maps, more items to collect, more quests to complete, etc. This could sound like a good thing but it turns out it's not. You can play hundreds of hours and still feel like you're not done, you haven't played enough. Taro Yoko saw this phenomenon and understood once tasks become ordinary, they become chores. He concluded players were tired of this high level of freedom. This might sound counterproductive but, as he explains, having a high level of freedom doesn't necessarily mean feeling free. Having freedom vs. feeling free In order to explain the difference between 'having freedom' and 'feeling free' Taro Yoko cites two examples: the original Super Mario Bros. game and GTA IV. When he discovered the warp zone for the first time in Super Mario Bros., he was shocked. It felt like the game contained an enormous world he wasn't aware of. He felt free. When he played GTA IV for the first, which is a game (and a series) famous for giving a lot of freedom to the player, he was surprised he couldn't talk to NPCs in the streets. But it makes sense, as you wouldn't go around randomly talking to strangers in real life. This is a case of removing some freedom to the player in order to add realism and sense. The solution Taro Yoko came to the conclusion that 'freedom' in video games isn't about volume; it's the expansion of the player's perception. Which means that 'freedom' is in a future that you weren't aware of in the past. In his games, Taro Yoko translates this by using a frame to limit freedom. Imagine a world. What's important isn't the size of this world but rather its frame because players believe the frame is the limit of this world. Now if you expand this frame, it gives a sense of freedom. This expansion may have many forms. I remember playing GTA III when I was younger and after spending many hours on the first island I finally unlocked the second one and I was stunned. It was a whole new map, with new vehicles and everything! But it wouldn't have worked if I hadn't spend all these hours trapped on that first island, giving me a false impression that GTA III's world was smaller than it actually is. Ending Now I've talked about gameplay and world expansion but this also applies to the story. What if you played through a story, but then you can play it again with a different point of view which will completely changes what you learned in your first playthrough? Or what if there was another story after the ending? Giving you a false impression that the game is ending, but actually the world is expanding right before your eyes. And now you have no idea what will happen next, yet you're excited. It's almost as if the video games gods blessed you with a cryptic puzzle. Sources & annexes Taro Yoko's GDC 2014 video about scriptwriting: SPOILERS for the first Nier game) Takahisa Taura and Taro Yoko's GDC 2018 video about Nier: Automata's gameplay and open-world: SPOILERS for NieR:Automata) Screenshots used for the context part (emotions, potential, open-world, etc. come from these two GDC videos. Combo clip are from this video: SPOILERS) Animations details are from this video: SPOILERS) Everything else was captured by yours truly. The third-party patch for the Steam version can be downloaded here: Whew. I really got carried away. This game is just so interesting, it brings a lot of fresh ideas while also being fully aware of some of the issues with current video games. I think it matters a lot. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the read, at least as much as I enjoyed writing it. I did my best to put in practice the suggestions people made on my previous review. Once again, please let me know what you liked, what you disliked, what you thought was unnecessary, what was missing, etc. Anything constructive is cool. I proof-read the whole thing but please keep in mind English isn't my native language. And, of course, feel free to discuss the game here, using spoiler tags when needed.
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