Category Archives: Gaming

Audition for the Explorers Wanted Contest!

Hi everyone!

I know this article isn’t about writing, but I just had to share this :D

Image Source - bioware.com
Image Source – bioware.com

I don’t know how many of you are gamers, but not long ago, the company Bioware, makers of such awesome games as Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect, announced a contest: fans could submit audio auditions for a possible role in the upcoming video game, Mass Effect Andromeda!  Click here to read more about it!

Now I have no experience in actual voice acting, but I do have practice with my voice from over 14 years of choir.  Beyond that, I’ve been complimented often on my voice impressions of various movie, TV, and video game characters.  I have also been (slowly) working on an audio book for The Sword of Dragons.  So I thought…what the hell, why not?

Armed with a mic that Wayne of VtW Productions has graciously let me borrow, I set to practicing.  In the contest, we could choose from both scripts, so I practiced both, hoping that I could submit both so that they might see the diversity in my voice.

Image Source - wall.alphacoders.com
Image Source – wall.alphacoders.com

Unfortunately, the rules are very vague about whether or not I could submit for both scripts or only one, and most entries on YouTube were only one of the scripts.  So a couple of nights ago (with only 5 hours left on the deadline,) I recorded my best take, and submitted it!

And then I thought…why not share it with others to get people’s thoughts?  I mean, the contest deadline has passed and I’ve already submitted, but I have threatened to do a vlog on here once before…so why not start with just a voice, and see what you all think?

As a primer, the instructions were to read the lines of only the indicated character, not both characters in the dialogue, so that’s what I did.  But just so you all aren’t wondering what the heck is going on while listening, I’ve attached the script I read from.

Click here to read the first script

And beyond that…here goes.  My entry into the Explorers Wanted contest…  *gulp*  I hope you all enjoy!

Click Here (or the image below) to hear my entry!

Image Source - masseffect.com
Image Source – masseffect.com

Please leave comments either here or on YouTube to let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading (and listening)!!  :)
-Jon Wasik

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I’ll Be On The Show X Podcast This Weekend!

Hi everyone!

I have some exciting news: I’ll be interviewed on VtW Production’s Show X once again this coming weekend!  :D  Hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Wayne (and he has the hair to prove it ;) ) and his co-host Ken, Show X is a podcast dedicated to everything geek related.  While the website itself says it focuses on technology and games, pretty much anything geek goes (which is why a fantasy writer like me is welcomed in :D )

interview1So check us out this Sunday, 24 January at 2PM EST, 7PM GMT (for those who live in the mountain time zone with me, that’s Noon :) ).  We’ll of course talk a bit more about where I’m at with the Sword of Dragons series, but there will also be lots of fun geekery involved!

To make your lives easier, here are links to where you can listen or WATCH the show live!  Yes, you can watch it as it airs :D

To listen, go to http://www.vtwproductions.com/ and on the left side there will be an audio play button, just click that a couple minutes before the show starts, and you should be good.

To watch the show live on youtube, go to their youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/versustheworldvideo and you should see the ‘current show’ at the top.

See you all out there!
-Jon Wasik

Taking It Personally – When Does Fiction Become Public Domain?

Hi everyone!

In about 24 hours, the movie millions have been waiting for, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released!  In and of itself, the release of a new Star Wars in theaters is exhilarating, and given that it is the continuation of the story from the Original Trilogy, nerds everywhere (myself included) are ecstatic!

More so because George Lucas has no involvement in its creation!  ….wait, that seriously excites everyone?  The very man who invented Star Wars.  Who created the characters that has inspired generations, and invented the concept of the Force.

obi-wan_kenobi-confused

But let’s face it, over the past 20 years, in the eyes of countless fans, Lucas has slowly dismantled Star Wars and turned it into something that old-school fans despise.  I’m not one of them, mind you – I don’t love the prequels, but I don’t hate them either.  And I actually like most (but not all) of the changes he made to the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy.

Never-the-less, the fire Lucas has received has been incredibly harsh, so much so that he has been quoted recently as avoiding the internet altogether in order to avoid reading the criticism against him.

Which brings me to the point of this article…

A New Era – Fans Taking It Personally

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how Star Trek and Star Wars seem to build upon each other’s successes.  But they seem to be linked in another way as well – the fans react quite vehemently when something is entered into the fictional canon that they don’t like.

The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )
The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )

I still can recall discussions in fan forums back during the DS9 and especially during the Voyager and Enterprise era of Trek where fans were flat out blaming Brannon Braga for ‘destroying Trek and everything it stood for.’  They were taking it personally, and with each new series, the open hatred towards the producers grew worse.

The same thing has happened with Lucas…but it hasn’t stopped there.  No, not by a long shot.  In fact, if anything, this trend of being offended by aspects of their fandom that they don’t like has only grown worse.

Remember when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond for Casino Royale?  Fan and media reactions were both very harsh.  Many people criticized him as being not handsome enough, not tall enough, and any number of other criticisms.  In fact there’s still a website online, http://www.danielcraigisnotbond.com dedicated to making sure everyone knows that Craig is not a suitable Bond.

roger-mooreIn reading up on this history recently, I learned that former Bond star, Roger Moore, had a few words to say about this.  While I cannot seem to find that article again, and so cannot directly quote Moore, I recall that he was surprised by the negative reaction to Craig.  He commented how 30 years ago, no one would have reacted to such a different direction for Bond, or any other franchise for that matter.

And then there’s Mass Effect 3.  The ending of this phenomenal trilogy of video games, with such an incredibly in-depth story and amazing characters, was considered to be one of the greatest let downs in the history of video games.

In fact, it was so bad that a law suit was filed against EA via the FTC, claiming that EA was guilty of false advertising.  Reactions were so bad that EA actually released a free DLC for Mass Effect 3 that revamped the ending, adding more choices, and created a somewhat better final experience for the game.

mass-effect-3-ending

Does Fiction Belong to the Fans?

From the looks of things (and based on fan reactions to The Hobbit movie trilogy) this trend is only growing.  So as a writer, this raises a very serious question: does fiction belong to the fans?  At what point does our creative work no longer belong to us?  Should I cater to the desires (or even demands) of fans for where I take my stories?

To my fellow writers out there, I’m willing to bet most of you are going to immediately say “No!!!  Never change your artistic direction to sate fans!  Nor should you do so for commercial reasons!”  I’ve heard this stance over and over throughout my entire life, especially in college, the domain of “Literary” fiction.

But you know what?  Fans matter.  Here, let me repeat that.

Fans Matters.

This has been my stance from day one of this blog, and goes back much, much further than that.  It has always been my greatest desire to connect to readers, to engage with them, to hear their thoughts and desires and opinions about my works.

Is this me selling out?  I don’t think so.  No matter what, my stories will always be the product of my creative vision.  But I also have an active and adaptive imagination.

I’ve also put this into practice.  My old fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon, is the perfect example.  I had this amazing idea to do a crossover between Star Trek and Star Wars.  The setting was perfect, because the USS Dragon was already lost in a galaxy ‘far, far away.’  And my idea was to make it a permanent crossover.

episode-28

It was not well received.  In fact, it is safe to say that the episode titles “A Long Time Ago” is the most disliked episode of STDragon.  So at the end of Season 3, I dropped that crossover…mostly.  And took STDragon in a very different direction from what I had originally planned.

 

And it turned out better.  So much better.

mitchell-sg1This is not to say writers should cater to every whim of the fans.  Do NOT try to please everyone, because that is impossible, and you’ll only drive yourself crazy.  And do not abandon your original creative endeavor.  The original story is still your creation.

All I am saying is don’t ignore them.  And what ever you do, do not ever think of your readers as simple-minded, as stupid, or as crazy.  The majority of readers are intelligent, sensitive individuals who enjoy quality entertainment (yes, I borrowed that quote from the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1.)

I’ve Digressed – Who Owns Fiction?

This is a question I asked my friend Wayne today.  Who owns fiction?  At what point does a fictional body become the domain of the public?

After discussing it with him and thinking further on it, I’ve come to the opinion that it is both, the moment it is released ‘into the wild.’  It is still the creator’s work, and they still will be the ones to guide it into the future.  But it also belongs to the public.  You’ve inspired them.  You’ve engaged their imagination, made them think.

And do not underestimate the impact you’ve had on readers.  If they react strongly to something you’ve written, it means you have succeeded in making them fall in love with your work.  That’s something amazing, and not to be ignored.

Not to mention, collaboration between creators and fans can result in an amazing product.  Look into Star Citizen for a perfect example :)

What do you all think?  This is a pretty heavy and hot topic, and I have no doubt that opinions will vary widely on it.  Please comment below!!  (But please keep it civil!)

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

VtW Gamefest – Geeks Know How to Party!

Hey everyone!

Geeks do it best.  There’s just no way around it :)  And this weekend, I was lucky enough to get to go to VtW Production’s Gamefest, a weekend-long LAN (Local Area Network) party hosted by Wayne!

The setup for Gamefest
The setup for Gamefest

A few weeks back, I had written an article about rediscovering my creative roots, including gaming.  Well, I finally was able to dive in head-first!  :D  Granted none of them were story-driven games, but it was a blast!

Plus, it was soooooo needed.  A weekend away from everything else, just hanging out with fellow geeks, gaming, drinking, and all around having fun!  While yes, it was a LAN party, it was so much more than that.  Half of the time, I was upstairs getting to know all of these amazing people, folks I wish I’d met a long time ago.

Fellow Geeks of the World – Unite!

I am not exaggerating – every single one of the persons I met this weekend are truly amazing – full-on geeks who are not afraid to show it, confident and fun-loving.  No joke, I found out that there is an actual training academy in the Denver area for learning how to fight with a lightsaber!

gamefest3
Alcohol and twister – not necessarily a good idea, but definitely amusing!

From computer engineers to nurses, people from every facet of life came together for the common cause of gaming and enjoying one another’s company.  Not to mention twister!

I also discovered the amazingly fun, but oh-so inappropriate game known as Cards Against Humanity.  So much fun that we stayed up until about 4AM playing!!  (Warning – not a game for kids, or for the easily-offended!)

Plus we had some amazing cooks at the party!  Sure there was plenty of junk food – pizza, candy, chips, salsa.  Oh but the salsa wasn’t just store-bought, Wayne made some home-made in a crock pot.  And then there were home-made cupcakes.  And chicken dumplings.  Sooooo much good food everywhere!

The Games of Gamefest

Then there was the gaming.  Upstairs was an awesome rig setup for Rock Band, so I got to rediscover drumming (and learned I am embarrassingly out of practice!)  Downstairs, well, lots and lots of incredible machines chugging away at some fantastic games, almost all of which I had never played before.

Including the new Star Wars Battlefront beta!!

The graphics really are this good!
The graphics really are this good!

While full of glitches, it IS the beta.  The graphics were amazing, and the gameplay was intense!  It was also the first time I’d ever played a game that actually required you to download the latest drivers for your video card, they wanted to ensure as few problems as they could.

The downside, though, was that the ability to get into the same game as your group of friends was glitchy, at best.  I hope they fix that in the final release!

Call_of_Duty_Black_Ops_II_box_artworkWe also played a fair bit of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game I had never played before.  I learned very quickly that whatever skills I thought I had in FPS games, they were nothing compared to these veterans!

In fact, if I had to come up with a kill ratio, I’d say it was probably 10 of my deaths to one kill.  :-/  But the most important part was that it was a blast, and playing the game with these awesome folks meant that no one was childish about it, and we all had fun, no matter our skill level!

And finally, there was Tribes: Ascend.  I had never played Tribes before, but THIS was a fun game.  Seriously, check it out, and make sure you look into learning the ski function in it – that’s what sets it apart!

We also played a bit of Left 4 Dead 2, that was so much fun to have a full 4v4 team going!  I love playing the monsters in the game, heheh.  I also saw others playing Wareframe, which has sparked my curiosity into it.

Then I was introduced to Chris Roberts’s newest upcoming, totally crowd-funded game Star Citizen.  This is an incredibly ambitious video game in the works, and the results are already amazing!

https://robertsspaceindustries.com/
https://robertsspaceindustries.com/

Imagine hopping into your ship, heading into battle with some friends.  There’s a large enemy ship.  Want to capture it?  Board it, hop out of your ship, grab your gun, and begin the invasion.  I really want to look into it some more, I only saw glimpses, but the details and the mechanics seemed really awesome.

An Exaustingly Relaxing Weekend

Little sleep, lots of fun, and a fair bit of alcohol – this was a totally exhausting weekend.  And yet, I’ve come out of it feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long time.  For a couple of days, the past several months of trials and hardships were forgotten, and my nearly-depleted energy levels were refilled.

So kudos out to VtW Productions, to Wayne, and to everyone I met at Gamefest (You owe me a rematch, Lt4ork!! ;) )  Thank you all for an awesome weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all again!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

PS: Gamer Geeks ;) (Thanks Tara for posting this image!)gamefest-joke

Live interview tomorrow!!

Hey everyone, I have exciting news!  I will be interviewed on a live podcast tomorrow, for VtW Productions!

http://www.vtwproductions.com
http://www.vtwproductions.com

The interview will start out about my latest book, The Sword of Dragons, but will then go on to talk about games and other geekery.

VtW Productions is dedicated to everything geek, especially gaming.  I met Wayne, one of the hosts, a couple of months ago and he has showed a real interest in my writing and the process of self-publishing.  I’m really excited to be on the show!!

The podcast is at 12 Noon MDT, and is called “Show X.”  It is available to listen to on their website, and will be broadcast on their youtube channel as well!  So if you have a couple of hours and want to know what my voice sounds like, tune in Sunday, May 31st :)  And if you miss it, they archive and make available all of their past shows.

Thanks for listening!  :)
-Jon Wasik