What is Gacha

Over the years, I have been playing a genre of apps called Gacha games. However, some may not know what the term Gacha is or how it’s implemented. This week, I want to cover these two thing and share the joys of Gacha.

First, what is Gacha? In short, it is essentially gambling. However, instead of wagering money, players instead wager time for better units, cards, etc. It is at this point I should mention Gacha games don’t solely revolve around the gambling aspect. Just like real casinos you can’t get your money without playing the slots, blackjacks, or whatever games are there. Most of the time, Gachas are seen in games where you have to have amass X amount of unit, card, etc. The purpose of playing the Gacha can range from collecting new units or enhancing units in your possession. Regardless, players will have to use the Gacha to progress and many don’t like this. The rarer more powerful units can range from having one to six precent drop rate from personal experience. Of course, this can be subverted by spending more time to collect in game tickets to roll the Gacha. However, like all games of chance, this can still be quite a frustrating reality when you just want to play the game. 

To remedy this immediate urge to actually play the game, there is what’s called the first roll Gacha, beginner Gacha, or Per Risemara. Essentially, in most games the developers will give a free ten units with a guaranteed rare one. The Per Risemara is scene by most as a life raft to those few unlucky people, to keep them playing the game until they can actually pull a rare unit. However, there are also people who try and abuse this system. Because the Per Risemara happens so early after the game, just after the tutorial most of the time, it isn’t hard to just delete and redownload the game. The benefits of doing so can range from getting more than one rare unit to getting the unit you personally desire. This is called Rerolling, and is so widely know at this point that some developers just accept it, making Rerolling possible with a tap of a button. 

Unfortunately, sometimes even after playing a game for a good while, you still can’t get any rare units. It is at this point the dark side of Gacha rears its ugly head. In almost all Gacha games, it is possible to buy the tickets I mentioned previously with real money, allowing players to collect vast amounts of rare units without playing the game. In the community, we call these people whales. It is an action looked down upon, and highlights the similarities between Gacha and gambling. The reason why it’s looked down upon is one of fairness. In some games, it is almost a necessity to have rare powerful units to play the story or participate in PvP, an almost invisible paywall. In certain circumstances, these people can ruin a game’s experience and drive others away. However, some developer don’t care as these whales are what is keeping the game afloat, making everyone else a second priority. 

To have whale spend their money faster, the developer will have banners. These banners are separate from the main Gacha, and can be used to introduce new units or give old ones an increased chance of being drawn. Banners add an element of freshness, and gives the steady flow of newcomers a constantly changing pool of units to draw from. While relatively harmless, like I mentioned above, it can also be used a tactic to squeeze money out of the player base. An example of this is in a game called Fire Emblem Hero’s (FEH). In the past, Nintendo the people behind FEH launched two really popular banner consecutively, giving the players no time to recover. If players wanted the featured units from the second banner, they would likely need to spend money. It was a real surprise, because Nintendo had never pulled something like this before. No one knew the banner was were coming, and nobody saved their tickets. Suffice to say, Nintendo received a lot of backlash for this.

Overall, this was a general overview of Gacha and how it’s used. It is just a shame the term has a negative connotation, as a result of poor luck, having their day ruin by a whale, or just by greedy developers. However, I also believe it’s also one of the fairest way of acquiring new units. There is no bias and it’s hard to gain an edge over others, besides paying real money. It’s alway fun to see a new unit you’ve never drawn before, an it’s an experience that is hard to replicate. In the end, Gachas can be exhilarating but must be done with restraint, and as I hate to say it, it’s very similar to gambling. 

Ash Arms

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a certain game called Ash Arms. However, it’s not played on PC or console like most games are. Instead, it’s a mobile game and today I want to take some time to talk about it.

First what exactly is Ash Arms? The closest comparison I think of is a tactical turn based RPG. However, it’s a far stretch from having all the features of one. Instead, it’s better to think of Ash Arms as a game similar to Pokemon, and it only borrows some aspect from tactical turn based RPGs. Rather than a full map, there is instead only eight columns to move your units around. What this means is that you can only move units left and right, which is pretty limiting. The other important detail to note, is that there are two of these maps stacked on top of each other at once. The reason for this is because the game revolves around tanks and aircraft. One map represents the ground while the other is the air. Instead of thinking too deeply about it, just imagine playing two of these eight column games at once. The only thing that connect these two games are that sometimes units can attack over into another game and your turns are linked together. All in all, it’s the weirdest kind of turn based game I’ve ever scene. However, it’s still a creative way to integrate both tanks and aircraft into one game. 

This leads me to my next talking point, units. Like I said before, the game revolves around military assets without warships. However, these might not be the tanks and planes some are familiar with. Ash Arms uses an anime art style with cute girls representing these vehicles. It’s a popular trend in Japanese games and other media with some other examples being Kancolle, Azure Lane, Girl Frontline, Girls und Panzer, and Strike Witches. However, this topic is deep enough on its own and can easily be its own blog. I just wanted to touch upon the art style used as some might not understand the concept. 

Unfortunately, what I can’t touch upon deeply is the plot. Normally, I would make it a point to talk about the plot, as I really enjoy a good story. However, I can’t make heads or tails of Ash Arms plot as it’s all in Japanese and there is no translation. With the pictures in the background, you can infer there is a war against some sort of aliens or machines gone rogue. Regardless, after the first few scenes I made it a point to skip all future ones.

Like most people who pick up a Japanese mobile game, it’s for the gameplay, art, and gatcha, not so much the story. Which leads me to my next point, the gatcha. If you’re unfamiliar to the term, it is the eastern equivalent to loot boxes and a light form of gambling. In most turn based mobile games or any game that includes a form of units, they use a gatcha to have you obtain more. From a business stand point, it makes sense as it’s the easiest way to extort money out of the player but I digress. Some players don’t like this concept of obtaining new units but I don’t particular mind. Compared to other gatcha games, Ash Arms odds lean towards the more lenient side of things. In the beginning at least, it’s easy to collect the currency needed to roll for new units, and five precent odds of a rare unit are pretty good. In comparison, some games have the odds at one precent for a rare unit, or make rolling for new units extremely hard. However, from what I hear, rare units are almost a necessity to progress and no matter the odds, that’s never good. I guess only time will tell if that is true.

Overall, Ash Arms takes familiar concepts to me and turn them on their head. The gameplay is not quite simple but not overly complex either, the art is familiar but taken in a completely different direction than what I’m used too, and the gatcha is surprisingly lenient. All in all, Ash Arms is a great game and I can only hope for a global release someday. 

Gaming though Game Design

Recently, I’ve been playing some Japanese games on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I can’t understand much less read Japanese. So, how do I and many other non-Japanese people play these games? Well, you could look up a translated guide, but in my opinion game design and UI play a much bigger roll. In this blog, I want to share my thoughts on how games implement game design and organize the UI to streamline the player experience. 

At the start of almost any game, there will almost always be a start screen. The can be many reasons why a start screen is there, sometimes you can alter the settings or maybe even the language. However, for apps you’ll almost always see an iconic F or blue bird. These two icons represent Facebook and Twitter respectively. Most game uses these buttons to bind your Facebook or Twitter account to game data. What this example shows is the use of familiar icons, and having you recall prior experiences. Remember I mentioned how this example is common, how you’ll almost always see it in the start screen specifically? This kind of game design is reliant on your prior experience in recognizing how these two symbols lead to bind your account. However, once you’ve experienced it, any other developer can use this method and you as the player will recognize it immediately. This can be applied to any concept in a game like mail or accessing the settings. The use of prior experiences is not just used to bind your account. 

Another way too rationalize this example is with a fast-food drive through. Although a drive through has nothing in common with binding an account, it works on the same concept of familiarity. A McDonald drive through may differ from a Tim Hortons one, whether it be the difference in signs or maybe where the entrance is located. Regardless, once you’ve experienced going through a single drive through, you can recall on that experience. Even if the process is slightly different from franchises to franchise and the language on the signs is different, the way drive throughs operate is similar enough to each other that you’ll have little problem ordering food. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the developers of a game can’t rely on familiarity. Maybe there is a game that’s revolutionary and there is nothing else like it, what will the developers do now? The answer is size and colour. There is a gag in pop-culture relating to a big red button that people aren’t supposed to touch. However, most of the time people touch it anyway. Why? The button catches your attention with its red colouring, and the size makes it easy to access. It’s designed in a way that makes you want to push the button. Game developers use this trick all the time when advertising a feature they want you to use frequently. If there is an over-world map in an RPG to enter a level, there is likely a very high chance that the start button is right in your face. Another example is the gacha, a lottery to obtain new units or some sort of desired item. The developer put this button in your face, because it easy for them to squeeze money out of you like in a casino. In fact, this in your face lottery concept ended up blowing as scandal in 2017 that scars the gaming community to this day. Of course, the main reason it blew up was because it was essentially children gambling. However, we can’t forget the developers intentionally made that lottery system easy to access through the UI. 

Finally, what if all else fails? What if the player still can’t figure out they need to do? What’s the last option a developer can employ? The answer is a visual tutorial, one with pictures and arrows galore. Although not often thought about and skipped, a tutorial can really help when there is nothing to fall back on. It will give you an experience to recall, and maybe you’ll even make sense of the UI along the way. The problem is that the developer can’t alway use this option. No one like it when a game holds your hand, and that mean the developer eventually needs to let the player roam free. 

Overall, while game design and UI is often overlooked, everything is placed there for a reason. There is always a reason why some icons are bigger than others, or why something feels vaguely familiar. All these things is to make the player feel comfortable and in control, and by extension helps me play Japanese games.

Difficulty in Games

This week, I would like to tackle the subject of difficulty in games. Recently, I started a new play through on a turn-based tactical RPG on the highest difficulty. Having only played on normal mode before, I found it very interesting how the game made itself more difficult. In this blog, I want to go over some mechanics games use to raise the difficulty, and how I think they should be applied. 

The first change usually seen in a harder difficulty, is the increased number of hit-points an enemy has. Hit-points are essentially the enemies health, when the number of hit-points reach zero they die in a sense. It’s fairly easy to see how this increase of health could make a game harder. If an enemy is hitting your character and you’re hitting back, the more hit-points an enemy has, the more they can strike you. Another example, is how a small increase can drastically change the game. Let’s say the number of hit-points haven’t raised much, and the enemies can only get one more hit on your character. If there are many enemies, that damage adds up.

However, I find that the mechanic I just mentioned, although the easiest to implement, can be the trickiest to balance. People play games to escape boredom, so what happen when you’re spending five minutes on a single enemy, trying to whittle it’s hit-point’s down to zero? That’s boring and the process of dispatching enemies can get old fast, the gameplay becomes repetitive and stagnate. If people get bored or become frustrated, they will stop playing the game. Increasing the hit-points of enemies does make a game harder, but it doesn’t make the player think. There is no added layer to this increase in difficulty, as it just wastes your time. 

In order to add that extra layer of gameplay, the developers may give the enemies a new feature they didn’t have before. What do I mean by this? A new feature can be rather broad, but generally they change up the way a player approaches a situation or make the player think about their actions. For example, in an FPS the developer could give the enemies grenades when they otherwise wouldn’t have them in a lower difficulty. It would make the player think about the type of damage or penalties grenades could inflict, and possibly have them reconsider entering cramped areas where grenades would be most potent. Adding new spins on a level the player has explored before, can turn the level into a completely new experience. 

Unfortunately, there is also a point where adding too many new features can work against a game. Sometimes the developer will add a completely new feature, and it might be unintuitive or detracts from the core gameplay. For example, in a level of an FPS your goal is to clear out all the enemies. In the more difficult versions of this level, the game may also have you protect an objective for a bonus. Suddenly because of this entirely new feature, the goal of defeating all the enemies becomes protecting this objective. Even though the objective is still to clear out all the enemies, the player becomes distracted. 

The final way to increase the difficulty of a game, would likely be to change the enemies priorities. For example, instead of having enemies wait until you approach them, allowing you to pick them off one at a time, the enemies could rush you all at once. This kind of change, makes you drastically change how you approach a level. Instead of the player going on the offensive, they’re now on the defensive. The great thing about this change is that it makes the enemies feel more intelligent or aggressive, and this is without the game feeling unfair due to hit-point increases or gaining a new advantage over the player. 

The downside to this kind of change, is how the game can potentially feel a bit too unfair. The game can never be on the same level as the player, so it compensates with more enemies. However, if they all advance towards you at once, the player will be overwhelmed. Another example, is if a boss with an incredibly high amount of hit-points is healed even turn by some sort of healer. It would make the level feel utterly impossible to defeat the boss. What needs to happen in these instances is a check or a flag of some kind. In the former example, perhaps the boss and a few enemies won’t advance unless approached. In the latter, the healers wouldn’t heal unless the boss was under a certain threshold of hit-points. With these restrictions, the game become much harder, but still gives the player a fighting chance. 

Overall, all these changes to the gameplay will increase the difficulty. Of course some mechanics are better than others, but none of them are perfect. Each has their own flaws and when taken too far can ruin a game, this is already seen with the term bullet sponge (an enemy with an absurd amount of hit-points) being thrown around constantly in FPS games. Rather, I think a combination of all three mechanics makes for the best kind of difficulty, a game mode that makes the enemies more intimidating and causes the player to think more. 

Fire Emblem Past VS Present

If you look at my profile, I’ve frequently talked about a turn-base tactical RPG franchise called Fire Emblem. I’ve covered gameplay and story elements from different games in the franchise, but I’ve never actually compared two Fire Emblem games. Today, I’d like to remedy that as I cover how gameplay has changed over the years. For this blog, I’ll be comparing broad gameplay elements from the GBA era games and the newest instalment in the series for the Switch. However, I should mention that although I’m using the GBA era games as a reference, the history of Fire Emblem is much deeper, going as far back to Nintendo’s Super Famicom. Unfortunately, I’ve never played a Fire Emblem game prior to the GBA era and thus can’t conduct a comparison of any kind. Now, with that mention out of the way, let’s move on to the comparison. 

When you start up a game, the first thing that usually catches your eye is the graphics. It may not be surprising that graphics usually improve as time progresses and technology improves. However, that may not always be the case. In all the GBA games, the story is told through still photos and dialogue boxes, with very little animation of any kind. On the map, most units are distinguished by their classes with very few exceptions and everything is displayed through a top down isometric view camera. In comparison, the newest instalment of Fire Emblem uses a heavy amount of cutscenes and 3D animation to tell its story. When playing through the game, all units are displayed as 3D models and each unit has their own unique look. The top down still camera has also been done away with, replaced with a manoeuvrable orthographic view camera. As you can see, the two are very different in terms of art style. While I admit each side has their merits, I prefer the GBA way of telling its story. In my personal experience, I find Fire Emblem’s use of 3D models to be rather clunky, especially in the 3DS era games.  

The next big difference is the gameplay, or rather the lack of a defining feature in the Fire Emblem franchise. Since the beginning of Fire Emblem, combat revolved around a rock, paper, scissor weapon triangle. In layman’s terms weapons have weaknesses and advantages over other weapons untimely forming a triangle. For example, swords are good against axes but weak against lances. This fosters a sense of gameplay balance and coerces the player to have units specialize in different weapons. However, in the newest Fire Emblem game the weapon triangle is removed. What this means is you could have a team full of sword units and face no repercussions against facing waves of enemy lance units. Rather, everything is now based upon the individual weapons accuracy and power. For example, an axe would have higher power but less accuracy compared to a sword. This system still makes you consider have a diverse party of units, but still think including the weapon triangle wouldn’t have hurt. 

However, an ever bigger mix up to the traditional Fire Emblem formula would be the change to the promotion system. In Fire Emblem you could always make a unit stronger after a certain level by giving them a promotion item. For example, a Villager promoting to a Mercenary would give the unit more points in strength. In real life this would be equivalent to getting a promotion in your job, your pay raise being the increase in stats. Normally, there is no going back on a promotion, usually linear, and your unit’s level would reset. In previous games this had you levelling units to their max level, even if they could promote earlier to get the best stats possible. For example, if a unit can promote at level 10 but caps at 20 and they get a level of strength for each level, you would want to wait, as 20 strength is much better to 10. However, like the weapon triangle, they replace the promotion system with a completely new one. In the newest Fire Emblem game, units still need to reach a certain level to promote, but now their level doesn’t reset, they can promote to almost any class as long they fulfil the requirements, and they could go back to previous classes anytime they want. Personally, I like this change a lot as it give so much unit customization to the player. A great example of this is promoting a mage into a swordsman, though likely a terrible choice still very funny. Prior to the newest instalment, this would never had happen. As a casual player, it’s always fun to see what kind of crazy creations others have promoted their units into. 

Overall, the newest Fire Emblem game has changed many thing. The features I just discussed are only the ones that have been directly changed from previous games. I haven’t even touched upon the new features the latest Fire Emblem game introduced. Now, the question is how will future games look like? Will the weapon triangle be reintroduced or will another feature be drastically change, we just don’t know. For now, we can only speculate. 

Quarantine Schedule

This week, I want to talk about what I’m actually doing during quarantine. Going through my previous blogs, I realized I’d never actually talked about how my schedule has changed. I’ve talked about how it’s affected my school life, but not my personal one. In this blog, I want to share what I’ve been doing during this Coronavirus crisis. 

The most obvious to change to me is definitely the time I wake up, and by extension how meals are eaten. During a normal school day, I usually wake up at 8:00am to eat breakfast, most of the time two slices of toast with something on it. However, with quarantine going on I’ve been eating healthier and getting more sleep. During weekdays, I still get up at around 8:00am if it’s my turn to clear out the dishwasher, but if it isn’t I sleep in until whenever breakfast starts. During these breakfasts, my family usually eats something different everyday, which I’m thankful for. I like the variety, as eating just toast can get rather boring. There was even a time I helped out a bit, though I don’t know how much help rolling out dough and decorating a pizza counts for. Maybe, I should try helping out more. I don’t think I’d mind if things remained fresh and interesting. 

After breakfast, is school from whenever breakfast ends to 3:35pm. During actual school, there are set block of time for each subject. I tried sticking to this for the first week, when we actually started getting work. However, I threw that schedule out the window and began working at my own pace. What I found is this format of getting through the day was a mixed bag. Most days it works out well, other times not so much. When I started working at my own pace, I realized my own time management was really important. If I have assignments or upcoming tests, I needed to mark them down. When I’m at school, everyone is doing the same work, so it’s easy to keep track of what needs to be done. When I’m at home, the only reminder is a calendar or a post on Google Classroom. Over the course of the quarantine I’ve gotten better with my time management, but there are still sometimes things that slip my mind. It during these time, I usually scramble to get work done later in the day. 

Anyhow, after school is my free time. Since I wasn’t the most active person in the world, I didn’t get out often. As such, this quarantine hasn’t really affected my hobbies, but it has certainly given me more time to enjoy them. Most of my days are spent reading, though I do enjoy the occasional game every now and again. I’m tried out a 3DS game with an emulator, and I’ve powered through a series of books I’ve been enjoying online. However, I’ve probably spent the majority of my time browsing FanFiction.net. Unfortunately, this new life style has sort of created a disconnect from my classmates. 

Surprising, I haven’t really contacted any of my friends. Not that it’s particularly a problem for me. All the games I play are single player, and most of the material a read is only liked by me. Though it doesn’t mean I don’t miss talking to them. During the few times I’ve joined a Discord group call, I’ve only managed to meet one of my friends. 

Regardless of the upsides, I still miss school to an extent. Although, this is mainly because of the fact I wouldn’t need to create my own schedule anymore. Over the course of this quarantine, I’ve learned time management isn’t my particular strong suit. However, that doesn’t stop me from trying to affectively use alarms and my calendar. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like I’ll need to continue for much longer. Schools are set to open in about a week, and a part of me is quite exited. 

Online Learning

This week, I wanted to give an update on online learning. This is a topic I’ve covered before, but a lot has happened since then. Today, I’ll be explaining how teachers are coping with Coronavirus and what I think of their teaching. 

It might not be surprising, but we can’t exactly go to school. However, that can’t stop learning and teachers now needed a medium to teach through. Fortunately, prior to Coronavirus they already had a pretty good one in place. In most classes, we use a website called Google Classroom. It allows teacher to post reminders, work, and assignments. Unfortunately, most teachers were only using Google Classroom for the former. Out of my four classes this semester, three of them uses this website. Out of those three, only two posted work. What I’m trying to say is, a rapid transition to e-learning was needed to made and it wasn’t really made smoothly. 

The week after March break was the most desolate. There was no contact at all, and it was hard to get answers to what was going on. A week later, your school email would be flooded with notifications. During this time, I noticed two ways teachers were posting. The first method was a mass dumping of information. This is when a teacher posted multiple lessons at once and wants them done by a certain time. The second, is a more hands approach by the teacher were they post a lesson every single day. Personally, I prefer the latter as I think it’s a lot more organized and controlled. With mass dumping of information, it’s a lot harder to sort out all the work. On the other hand, when a teacher posts one lesson a day, things are a lot more streamlined. All questions that day are related to the one lesson, and the teacher doesn’t need to worry about organizing question for specific lessons. The only problem with posting a lesson each day is that the teacher needs to be actively involved. To summarize, mass dumping of information isn’t good. It confuses students and the only benefit is that teacher only need to be active during their office hours, which is when teachers get on to answer questions.

Fortunately, courses that do employ the mass dumping technique try to soften the blow with online tutorials. The most obvious contenders for this are the courses that revolve around computer programs, examples being Photoshop, AutoCAD, and VisualStudios. I’m fine with a few tutorials to allow students to get a better understanding of the program. However, there is a point where I begin to wonder if I could just teach myself the entire course. Teachers are meant to guide students, and I don’t really feel that in the tutorials. The only time I really interact with teacher during this quarantine are when I have a question, and sometimes I can’t even get an answer. 

If this is what online is like, I feel bad for future generations of students. Regardless of how a teacher posts lessons, they should at least teach them in some way. However with quarantine going on, they can’t do that. If a teacher can’t teach what’s the point? At this rate, students might as well go off on to learn on their own and only come together for assessments. I don’t like it, but that’s the vibe I’m getting from the constant posting of tutorials and short responses I get out of teachers. At first I thought maybe they could conduct mass conference calls for lessons. Those who want to learn can join, those who don’t can just read the lesson on their own time. However, that isn’t happening. The only reason I talk to my teacher nowadays is to ask question, and I could probably get the same or better answers from Reddit

Overall, I understand the necessity for students to work on our own. We’ll need to be independent at some point after all. However, if that is the case, it just makes we wonder what’s the point of a teacher? If they’re there to answer questions, the internet can answer most of them. If they’re there to point out good resources, the internet is full of websites and videos for that. And if they’re there to assess our learning, I think there’ll be programs in the future doing just that. I use to think teachers were safe from robots taking over their jobs, but I think the internet already has.

Fire Emblem Fates

Last week, I downloaded a game called Fire Emblem Fates (FEF). I haven’t finished the game, but today I feel confident enough to at least share my thoughts on it. 

First, what is Fire Emblem Fates? Well, it’s a tactical RPG, a type of game similar to chess. In chess you have a bunch of pieces, and in the game you have a bunch of pieces called units. The goal of the game is to use these units to defeat the AI’s pieces. We repeat this process until we beat the game, but FEF is much deeper than that. Each unit is unique, with their own strength, skill, personalities, and weakness. 

Besides the gameplay, there is the story. For most Fire Emblem games, their story is a core piece of the game as a whole. In FEF’s case, the story is relatively simple. The game revolves around a war between two countries, Nohr and Hoshido. Nohr is a vast empire seeking expansionism, while Hoshido is a peaceful country preferring isolation. It’s quite easy to see how these two countries would be at odds. However, the twist that makes the story a lot more intriguing is the protagonist, your own character. As a prince/princess that was born into the Hoshido royal family but grew up in Nohr’s royal family, you as the protagonist have a connection to both sides of the war. Now, the player has to chose a side. 

It’s a very interesting idea, and a plot that I think could work out well. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem, the protagonist. Unlike the last FE game I played, the protagonist doesn’t really go through a character arc. The protagonist from beginning to end, didn’t feel engaging. In the route I’m playing in, the protagonist is fighting against the family he grew up with. However, the protagonist doesn’t seem affected by the deaths of his family. Perhaps it’s just my nitpicking, but the story doesn’t seem all too engaging. 

In Fire Emblem Three Houses, another FE game I’ve played, the player could make radical changes and determine the fate of an entire continent. Each of the four routes the story took in Three Houses was different and engaging. No matter what you do, you’re forced to kill units you grew connected to during the first act. In comparison, Fire Emblem Fates has you fight against a family that you barely have any knowledge of. As the player, you’re not invested into the characters of the opposing side. It’s only when you’ve played through both routes do you have any emotional connection the characters. Three Houses gives you an entire act to bond with units, while Fates needs you make that bond in few section for any emotional impact. 

Rather than the story, I find my decision for choosing a side is more swayed by units and classes. Like most games that release with two versions, there is some kind of version exclusivity for each one. In this case, each version has their own units and classes. If you pick one version for a certain set of units, you won’t have access to the other half. However, the most important factor is likely the difficulty. Conquest, the route that follows Nohr is much harder than Hoshido’s route. The reason for this is because Conquest there is no grinding for experience or money. In Birthright, the route that follows Hoshido, you can make your units stronger in a safe environment. You can’t do this in Conquest. This is particularly important, because in all Fire Emblem games once a unit is gone, they’re gone for good. With very few exceptions, there are no revivals. In cases like Conquest, resource management is much more important.

Overall, Fire Emblem Fates is still a fun game. Compared to Fire Emblem Three Houses, I have to say Fates is the lesser of the two. However, that doesn’t take away from the characters of Fates. Three Houses just had a better story and protagonist, the only two downsides for me in Fates.

Online VS Face to Face Tutoring

For the past few months, I’ve taken on a tutor for math and more recently chemistry as well. However, with Coronavirus spreading like wildfire, almost everyone around the globe has been stuck in their home. Unfortunately, this also include myself and my tutors eliminating face to face sessions. Fortunately, with the power of the internet, we can continue our lessons through Skype and other similar software. In todays blog, I’ll be talking about the differences between face to face and online.

To start off, I’ll begin taking about the positives of face to face and negatives of online sessions. The first positive to this type of tutoring is crystal clear communication. Unlike with Skype, there is no lag or other forms of interruptions. In addition, you’re also able to use paper or hand gestures to help describe your thought process. Of course, you can hold up a piece of paper to the camera or adjust your camera respectively. However, it is much easier to have the person you’re talking to you in front of you. Another benefit of face to face session is the ability to take notes. With recent sessions, I find myself and the tutor referencing the textbook more often than we previously did. I think the reason for this is because it has become much harder for the tutor to give me notes. When we conducted previous math lessons, she would write notes on a blank piece of paper and reference the textbook only when necessary. I can still write down notes and take screenshots, however it’s just not the same.

Alternatively, there is also online tutoring. Despite the negatives of online learning, there are also quite a few positives. One of them being the ability to conduct lessons on the fly. Unlike face to face sessions, it is really easy to schedule sessions on both ends, especially with current world events as they are. There is no travel time, thus no time wasted if a lesson is suddenly cancelled or pushed back. Another added benefit of online sessions, is accurate time management. During face to face sessions, you need some sort of timer to keep track of time. Without an accurate way to keep track of time, the session may end a bit early or go over. However, with a call, you easily look at how long the lessons has taken.  

Out of these two, I honestly prefer face to face lessons. Despite the amount of effort it takes to plan those sessions, I find I get more information out of them. I also find looking at paper notes rather then a bunch of screenshots much easier. For example, just a few days ago, in my math lesson we’ve moved on to graphing. As one would expect, graphing involves drawing graphs. However, it’s quite hard to see what’s happening on a white board through the lens of a camera. In the end, the tutor and I just ended up using the textbook for learning about different types of graphs. Regardless, I really miss the detailed examples and notes. 

Overall, there are benefits and negatives to both forms of tutoring. I prefer face to face conversations and note taking, while others may prefer a more hands off approach. In any case, this Coronavirus has let me experience both worlds of tutoring. However, not in the way I would’ve liked. Regardless, this virus still doesn’t look like going to be going away any time soon.  

Coronavirus Quarantine

If you weren’t aware of current events, the Coronavirus is taking the world by storm. Due to this virus a worldwide pandemic was issued by the World Health Organization. What does this mean? Social distancing and a vampire lifestyle until this pandemic goes away. This week, I want to share how I’m dealing with rapid life style change and my thoughts on the current situation. 

As much as I’m ashamed to admit, I originally thought this whole situation would blow over quickly. I never thought the Coronavirus would spread to this extent nor affect my life as much as it has. Personally, the biggest impact the virus has had is definitely my education. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss school. Unlike previous years, this year and the next one are particularly important to me. I need good grades to get into a good university or collage, and with schools closed I don’t know how grades will be doled out. I’m honestly very worried for my grades, particularly Chemistry. 

Chemistry is definitely not my forte and I admittedly had been struggling a bit. It has gotten much better after getting a tutor, but my current grade is still worrying me to no end. If they really do end school early, I might very well end up taking Chemistry for summer school and I don’t say stuff like that lightly. My last experience with summer school was painful, and that’s no exaggeration. There were tests and assignments every other day with no breaks in between. The second you blink, you’ve likely missed at least a days worth of notes. And all this pain is from taking grade ten history, and I like history. I can’t even imagine the pain of take grade eleven Chemistry for summer school, but I realistically might need to do it.

Setting, Chemistry aside there’s still all my other subjects. In English, we were going to do our book clubs after March break. However, with this whole Coronavirus crisis going on, our plans are now in limbo. On the bright side, we can at least read and that’s what our teacher has asked us to do. The book I ended up reading is called Angela’s Ashes, a story of a poor Irish family during the great depression and all the hardships they endured. I’ll admit it’s interesting and I would’ve liked share my thoughts on the book with fellow classmates. However, that’s a bit hard to do right now and it’s a mystery to what will happen when we get back. In previous English classes, book club was always an essential part of the curriculum and I really hope they don’t scrape it. I’ve never been great at essays, and book club has always been a mark booster for me. 

As for Media Art and Technology Design, our teacher’s have at the very least given us some videos to watch. However, I think I’m also going to begin doing some self study. In Technology Design we’ll begin using Auto CAD and I’ve never used the software before. Still, it would be nice to get some practice in before school hopefully starts up again. On the other hand, there is Media Arts. I’ll probably look up some tutorials on Youtube for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. 

Overall, the foreseeable future will be pretty hectic. So far, the teachers haven’t really posted anything on the google classrooms or EDSBY. Information on the current Coronavirus situation regarding school has been hazy at best. At this point, I don’t even know if I’ll still have a school year! In a funny turn of events, by writing this blog I’ve come to realize I’m more worried about my marks than my actual heath. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a reckless spring breaker and I don’t care about my health. Regardless, I hope this whole Coronavirus pandemic blows over soon.