Well, that was a bit of a long couple of weeks – and its mostly been spent with my nose to the grindstone on the writing, with a side order of playing EVE and some beta games.
The writing: well if there’s one thing I’ve learned, doing freelance writing, its that it can be extremely varied. The topics that come up can range from finding bargains on types of computer components to identifying some of the most expensive real estate in the world, followed by reviews of US golf courses. Last week saw me writing about depression and how to beat it – a topic close to my heart as some know, and for all that it was a rush job it sped by pretty easily as a series of small blog articles. Sometimes though its harder to get into – and this often comes when particularly obtuse keywords and phrases are chosen for insertion into the text.
In these instances, what should be an interesting article becomes an absolute chore, livened only by the intellectual challenge of finding out how to make key words fit in ways that don’t look like they’ve been hammered into place with a tire iron and then set fire to for the purposes of concealing the evidence.
And then there are the articles I get asked to write where every red flag gets raised and you just know that its an extremely grey area. It was uncomfortable enough writing copy for one of these academic paper sites a short while ago. I resisted the urge to try and sabotage anything, and did the best I could to make sure that the legal message about doing your own work and only using these papers as structural samples etc was as clear as I could. It was hard work – both as an intellectual exercise, and as an ethical struggle.
This week I did actually turn an assignment down. Partly because it was asking the impossible, and partly because the more research I did, the less comfortable with the use the work was likely to be put to was. In this instance it was to write a series of articles about jailbreaking the iPhone 5.
Yes – you know, that phone that doesn’t even exist yet outside of prototypes – and yet if you start up your search engines and look for those words, you will find a growing army of barely coherent sites claiming (sort of) in mangled text to be doing it, or not, or to be offering software with the same name, or not, or to be debating…something… or not… And I couldn’t do it. In the end I ran off a short article about jailbreaking iOS5 devices – which at least I could research and present some findings but the rest I turned down. And yet, despite it being a victory for common sense and ethics and all that – I still feel like I failed – because it was as much a matter of just not being able to successfully produce something as being unwilling to.
Today’s articles have been short and sweet and I rattled through them quickly enough that I might crack on with tomorrow’s after a quick walk to clear my head – but right at the moment I’m feeling quite disheartened with this writing lark. I think, on balance, I need to be more selfish with my time to write for myself; and to make sure I expand my client base – because feeling like this is not sustainable.
Gaming: Well the EVE gaming has been entertaining, with the new corp setting up and starting to attract people slowly – and having set up in Lonetrek just in time to take advantage of the ongoing RvB activity and far enough from Jita to watch the fireworks from a distance its actually been quite profitable. With research agents now starting to churn out datacores, and prices rocketing for even basic equipment with the changes in loot drops in pve, my expansive collection of blueprints has been getting quite a workout, even with needing to occasionally sidestep rogue Hulkageddon opportunists. To anyone who doesn’t play the game, this won’t mean a thing, but trust me its an interesting time to play an industrialist role…
Betas – only the one to report on really, and that is the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier Multiplayer Closed Beta which I got an invite to out of the blue. I’m not sure why I got an invite as the only Ubisoft games I’ve been actively playing have been the Assassin’s Creed series, and generally I’ve been a Halo player rather than anything from the grittier end of the FPS spectrum, but never look a gift horse in the mouth and all that. Redeeming the code and downloading the beta over XBox live didn’t take long or cause any problems and I’ve got to say I was actually very impressed with the gameplay and the slickness of the player matching.
As with any FPS, there was a period of adjustment while I learned a whole new series of buttons and controls to do the basics, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. Instead there was a general sense of achievement as I worked out how to do things like run, crouch, wriggle on my stomach and snipe – more or less as and when and how I wanted and needed to rather than as pseudo-random “what the hell” moments. As for the moment I worked out how to throw grenades over the top of the tin shacks that we seemed to be fighting around and through, well that put a grin on my face – even if it probably looked like I was trying to do trick shots that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Things To Do In Skyrim. I did wonder if I was going to find myself throwing grenades through hoops at one point.
Rewarding continuing play with the option to unlock more character customisations and weapon loadouts made for a reasonable draw to keep coming back, though its not one I’m overly keen on generally. I never felt that it tipped the balance one way or another, but then maybe I was spending too much time respawning and getting confused by a lack of situational awareness in the firefights.
How well it all stacks up without the campaign, well I don’t know – I might pick up a copy at some point on a rental to give it a look, but it didn’t grab me in quite the same way that the Halo Reach beta did – that, I played incessantly for its “just one more try” appeal. This game – well maybe I’m just put off by the ridiculously long name – I mean – Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Warrior; really?