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Summer of 2012 Book Quotes

This post was moved from the now no-longer-existent Brandonsoft developers blog and was originally written on August 11, 2012.

Over the summer, I have been busy reading various books. Of course, with all books, there are very memorable quotes within these books. Often times, I would post these quotes to Facebook and watch as hilarity ensues as my friends argue about the topic. Here are some of the quotes that I found particularly interesting:

What you alter in remembering has yet a reality, known or not.

-The Road by Cormac McCarthy

 

There is no God and we are his prophets.

-The Road by Cormac McCarthy

 

Only in the best of possible worlds is all for the best.

-Candide by Voltaire

 

These quotes are not only memorable because they address topics that are highly controversial, but they also do so very elegantly, giving them a profound sense of enlightenment. Plus, all three quotes contain very powerful messages.

Review: Amnesia – The Dark Descent

This post was moved from the now no-longer-existent Brandonsoft developers blog and was originally written on April 6, 2012.

 

 

When I was first introduced to videogames when I was around 4 or 5, I was taught that there is only one way to play videogames, and that is to win. So ever since then, I have played videogames in order to win. Any single player game I would buzz through the main storyline and put the game down once I completed it. Any multiplayer game I would compete to be the very best, and that was all. It never really occurred to me that there was more to the world of videogames, especially single player games. Amnesia taught me different.

My friends told me to purchase Amnesia because they said it was the scariest game they had ever played. I never really thought that a videogame could be scary, so when the game finally went on sale on Steam, I picked it up, and I wasn’t dissapointed.

When I first started up the game, I was greeted with a message that said something along the lines of turn off the lights, wear headphones, focus, and don’t worry about winning or dying, saving will be taken care of. Needless to say, I was intimidated. However, I wanted to try this game out for what it was worth, so I followed the instructions.

A fountain in Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia has a very unique, scary, architectural style.


For those of you who don’t know, Amnesia is a first person horror adventure game for the PC, where your character, Daniel, drinks an Amnesia potion and relives his memories in order to accomplish an overall goal. The main premise behind the game is that you are a normal person, who cannot fight back against any sort of monster that you may encounter, you may only run and hide.

Well, after about 20 minutes of playing the game with my lights off, headphones on, and full focus on my computer, I was immersed. I felt myself inside the game. I would lose track of time, pick up random objects and examine them, be interested in parts of the game that were not part of my current objective, and I was loving it. This was the first time this had happened to me, I felt like I was in another world while playing this videogame. Were all videogames like this? That discussion is for later. As for Amnesia, the game was very good. The story was very intriguing, the graphics were great, the sound was phenomenal, the overall design of the game is great, and the horror.. oh my.

Since you are not allowed to attack the monsters you encounter during the game, you become very weary about encountering them. And this makes you fearful. Not only is this game the type of horror that makes you jump out of your seat because something loud and unexpected happens, but it is the game that makes you scared to turn the next corner. Often times while playing, if I heard a noise I often times stepped backward out of fear. I wasn’t scared that I was going to die and possibly lose some progress, but instead I was scared that I would see something. The game makes you feel like you are there. The puzzles it contains are very interactive, and make you feel even more attached to the game. Overall, it is a completely immersive experience that I have never actually experienced before. This game was definitely worth every penny.

Errie rooms filled with rotting carcasses are a common sight in Amnesia

With that being said, since I enjoyed the immersiveness of Amnesia: The Dark Descent so much, I decided to play some other games in the same fashion, and it has made games much more enjoyable. For example, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, instead of focusing only on the main questline, I often times went off to explore, and this exploration led to new caves, which led to new people, which led to new quests, which led to a whole new world of fun! I am about 45 hours into the game and have not yet completed the second part of the main questline, and I am loving the game. I had the same experience with Mass Effect 2. I think this is the way games are supposed to be played, and I never knew about it before. Amnesia: The Dark Descent not only gave me a great 10 hour long horrifying adventure, but it also taught me how to enjoy videogames to a whole new level.

Review: The Shallows – What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

This post was migrated from the no-longer-existent Brandonsoft developer blog and was originally written on May 22, 2012.

It is not often that I post reviews of things that I enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy. It is also seldom that I post reviews about books, novels, or fictional tales, all of which may be collapsed into the former category. Reading has been an enjoyable pastime to me as of late, and I have learned many things from it. One of which being how to write in an eloquent yet simple fashion. The crafting of words has always appealed to me in a way that Legos appear to a young child, and with that being said, I shall begin my review.

The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains is a novel packed with information about how the human brain works, and what our modern information-based society changes about our every day lives. Nicholas Carr writes about this in a very personalized style, making the book both easy and fun to read. I have to admit, I was a little worried when I picked up this book due to the fact that I have no knowledge of advanced neuroscience whatsoever, and I thought that my lack of knowledge would make Carr’s arguments incomprehensible. However, that clearly was not the case. Nicholas Carr explains everything from basic ideas to advanced theories using brilliant everyday examples, allowing the reader to truly get a sense of what he is talking about. I felt like I was following Carr’s logic every step of the way.

There are also carefully placed personal digressions, where Carr takes the reader away from the argument or history lesson at hand and explains his own personal thoughts on the topic. I have to praise Carr for this, because admittedly, the personal examples he uses in the digressions would have done his central argument no good if they were placed within the text itself, but they add the perfect amount of spice when given their own personal sections. Not only do they allow the reader a break from the argument, but they allow the reader to know Carr, to feel his feelings, to take a quick walk in his shoes. This, I felt, strongly attached me to the author and helped push his argument along.

As far as the content of the book goes, I was a little dismayed by how off topic some chapters seemed to be. For instance, there is a section in the book in which the reader is led down a windy path concerned with the arguments and counter-arguments about the effects of search engines on the brain, when suddenly, the reader reaches a quick and sudden end to the path. This end: a history lesson on how Larry Page revolutionized the Internet world by creating Google. In my opinion, this was extremely out of place. There are several other examples of this style of seemingly unintended paths throughout the book.

Despite this, Carr’s central argument is convincing, and I felt myself agreeing with him and his thoughts on topics with almost everything he said. This may be due to the fact that we are both on the computer a lot, but it may also be contributed to the fact that Carr simply knows how to write and make a point. Whatever the reason, it simply works. The counter-arguments and Carr’s concessions almost seem invisible throughout the work, however, and this weakens his argument. Although there was a discussion of how Aristotle did not believe in using pen and paper, Carr did not seem to address the arguments of those believing that constant computer use does not change our way of thought. This may be because those arguments are either weak or nonexistent, but they should have been addressed nonetheless.

Overall, Nicholas Carr’s work was both enjoyable to read and intriguing. Although it makes me think twice about getting onto the computer each day, I do not regret reading it. If you are an everyday computer user like myself, I suggest picking up this book.

 

Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: http://www.theshallowsbook.com/nicholascarr/Nicholas_Carrs_The_Shallows.html

Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shallows-Internet-Doing-Brains/dp/0393072223