Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: Video Game Storytelling

Synopsis according to GoodReads:
"With increasingly sophisticated video games being consumed by an enthusiastic and expanding audience, the pressure is on game developers like never before to deliver exciting stories and engaging characters. With Video Game Storytelling, game writer and producer Evan Skolnick provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide to storytelling basics and how they can be applied at every stage of the development process—by all members of the team. This clear, concise reference pairs relevant examples from top games and other media with a breakdown of the key roles in game development, showing how a team’s shared understanding and application of core storytelling principles can deepen the player experience. Understanding story and why it matters is no longer just for writers or narrative designers. From team leadership to game design and beyond, Skolnick reveals how each member of the development team can do his or her part to help produce gripping, truly memorable narratives that will enhance gameplay and bring today’s savvy gamers back time and time again."

Video Game Storytelling is a handy, fairly comprehensive guide to creating and sustaining narrative in the video game industry. I'm an avid reader, have my degree in English, am a published author, and have read a lot about narrative technique, so most of this wasn't new for me in concept. 

But what I wanted to read this book for, the specifics on how narrative techniques differ for video games than for books or screenplays, is exactly what I got out of it. Skolnick does a good job of drawing easy parallels to illustrate his point, and pointing out what bits of storytelling are more difficult for game developers (and why). By the end of it, I felt 100% ready to write video game scripts. In fact, I felt like I already knew all of this stuff, and this book just reminded me of it. 

It's a handy tool to have, whether you're considering writing video game stories, books, or screenplays. I'd recommend even for current video game authors and developers, just as a handy reference tool.

*I received this book for review from Blogging for Books. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March Goals

Monthly Goals

February Goals Recap
  • Debut the NEW Printcess Romance collection! <--- Success! Find the love here.
  • Start the house hunt in earnest <--- Success! Met with realtor, got the loan, hunting for our home.
  • Save $1,000 toward the hopeful future house purchase<--- Success! Finally. :)
  • Drive around to potential neighborhoods with the house hunting, at rush hour and on the weekends<--- Success! And also, I jumped the gun. Need to do this in April, not Feb.
  • Post another beauty tutorial<--- Success! Find the tightlining tutorial here.
  • Sew dog and cat toys for Humane Society event in July (if I start this early, maybe I can finish them all...)<--- Success! I got the materials cut and prepped, and have made 25% of them so far (some will be made AT the event)
  • Spread the dottiebox love- mini box subscribers this month are going to get a lovely Printcess full-size eyeshadow (in a neutral shade) plus a sample of a fun color to play with! <--- Success! DottieBox awesome is out in homes!
March Goals
  • Get more blood work done
  • Do second sleep study
  • Continue the house hunt
  • Save $1,000 toward the hopeful future house purchase
  • Post another beauty tutorial 
  • Do another Handmade Love post
  • Take Coyote to AFK in Renton when he and his new lady visit
  • Make another trip to visit Fedora's grandparents
  • Work on the May Printcess release (hint: here there be dragons)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Printcess Eyeshadow for your Eyebrows

One of the reasons I call Printcess "mineral makeup" instead of just "eye shadow" is because you can do a LOT with these loose powders.

I'm posting a series of tutorials on ways you can use a pot of Printcess color to sub for things other than eye shadow. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, in the comments below!

Today's tip: EYEBROWS

It's no secret that having fuller-looking eyebrows makes you look youthful and healthy. However, if eyebrow pencils leave you frustrated (or irritate your skin), here's a quick and easy way to use matte mineral eyeshadow instead!

Notes on picking the right shade: Go for as close a match to your natural hair color as possible (when in doubt, one shade warmer and one shade darker is fine...but only one!). I chose Plot, which is a shade warmer and lighter than my eyebrow color, but close enough to my natural hair color that it worked.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

True Skin Care Under Eye Gel Review

I have problematic under eye skin (with my allergies, I'm always rubbing that area so it needs good moisturizing; I have bumpy pores that look like chicken skin in that area; my coloring and constant allergy-inflammation there creates huge dark bags; I have color/age spots in that area), so I'm always up for trying (and reviewing) sensitive-skin-friendly under eye gel.

True Skin Care offers several under eye gels, but since those fine lines and wrinkles worry me the most, I'm reviewing their anti-aging gel. 

Hyaluronic Acid is the primary ingredient (it occurs naturally in the body, especially in joints, and eye fluids). It's a moisturizing lubricant that may speed up healing of injured areas (the jury is still out on this claim). Peptides, cucumber and Aloe are also in there to moisturize. Green tea, vitamin C, eyebright and licorice fight the dark spots and any flakiness, to bring that plump, radiant glow in.

You pump a little bit on your ring finger (which is the weakest one) and massage it into your eye area (under the eye and on the outside). The gel was thin in consistency, and absorbed easily as I smoothed it around. There was no stickiness (unlike other gels I've tried) and no irritation.

But does it work?

Day 1, after applying the gel.

Day 22, before applying the gel.

In using it daily (after cleaning my face, before bed) for 22 days straight, I noticed that while my under eye "allergy" bags remained, the bumpiness of the skin under my eyes was reduced, and the shadows of darkness under my eyes were noticeably lighter (which definitely makes my eyes look larger and make me look healthier).

*I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review, which this is. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Northern Indian Masoor Dal Recipe

Some people reach for chicken soup when they're under the weather, but I gravitate toward the earthy spices of Indian and Thai cooking. Dal, especially Masoor Dal, is one of those hearty, protein-filled dishes that I could eat all day. I prefer to serve it over rice, though it can be eaten by itself (like a soup) as well.

For this recipe, I used Jiva certified USDA Organic Split Red Lentils. It cooks quickly (being split and skinned), and contains amino acids like lysine, as well as fiber, folate, and B1 (so it's tasty AND good for you). This brand comes straight from India, without any additives, and the huge 2 lbs. bag lasts me for a long time.

You'll need:

  • 1 cup red lentils (or dal)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 green chili (I used a jalapeño), chopped and seeded (depending on how hot you like things)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Broth or water
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Oil for sautéing 
  • Salt to taste

  1. Rinse the lentils, then soak them in the water for 20 minutes.

  2. Heat oil in a pan (I used leftover bacon grease, because I'm not picky)

  3. Fry up the cumin for a minute.

  4. Add the onions and fry for 3-4 minutes, until browned.

  5. Add ginger paste and fry for another minute, while stirring to distribute it evenly.

  6. Add the tomatoes and green pepper and fry until tomato bits become soft.

  7. Add the turmeric and cayenne, and mix well.

  8. Drain the soaked lentils and add them to the pan. 

  9. Simmer the lentils on medium-low.

  10. As they break down while cooking, you'll need to add liquid (I prefer homemade chicken stock, but you can use broth or water as well).

  11. When the desired doneness is reached, add the cream and garam masala and turn off the heat.

  12. Stir to mix well, and serve.

Don't be put off by the number of steps- this takes about 30 minutes in total (sans lentil-soaking time) and feeds at least 4 people. It's great on a cold day and really opens the sinuses!

*I received the lentils for free from Tomoson in exchange for my honest review.