Why are phones so expensive?

By Toby Groves

Phones are crucial to all of our lives. They provide many great features that we all use every day. However, recently there has been an increase of prices from all major phone and tech companies, such as Apple or Samsung. Phones have gone from being $200-300 back in 2010 to being closer to $1,000 now. Many people have a problem with the price increase, so why are phones so expensive now?

There are a few reasons as to why phone prices have been skyrocketing over the past few years. The first reason is that in the US, flagship phones used to cost $200 as part of a mobile phone contract, while the majority of the providers, like AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. made most of their money through monthly fees. Now that those contracts are dead, phone prices are all stated outright. That explains why, several years ago, the iPhone’s price suddenly jumped up to $649.

Another big reason phones are so expensive is because they’re a lot harder to sell than they were back in 2010. Nowadays, almost everyone in America has a smartphone, or has made a conscious decision not to have one. There are very few people who have never heard of a smartphone, so the market to sell smartphones to new users is very scarce. 

Most often, the only reason someone would get a smartphone is to upgrade from their old phone to a newer model. Because of this, tech companies have made newer models stand out with great new features, rather than small bug fixes and minor hardware improvements. Making newer models is also an attempt to alienate older models, further pressuring users to upgrade to a more expensive phone. Even with all of these pressures on users, it is harder to sell an upgraded phone to a returning customer than to sell a phone to a new user.

The cost of building a phone has increased as well. New phones are expected to run at a certain speed, have a decent camera, and have a good user interface. The time and cost of these parts is large, and since companies need to make a profit, they sell the phone for more.

Phones are so expensive for many reasons, but as we move in to a tech-absorbed world, the increased price is just a side effect of the increased quality.

The Game Awards

So the Game Awards happened again. The 2019 Game Awards. If you don’t know, the Game Awards is basically one giant advertisement for upcoming games, and they announce things like game of the year. Normally, I look forward to the Game Awards, but this year, it was kind of a mess.

First off, a few new things were announced, most notably, the Microsoft X series Xbox. The X series will launch in 2020, and features a console that is taller than it is wide. I’ve also noticed the controller looks a bit different from the current Xbox controller, and not in a good way. Before you buy it next year, make sure the grip is comfortable, ask a friend or something.

Before the game of the year was announced, Vin Diesel announced a new Fast and Furious game: Fast & Furious Crossroads. A trailer was shown, and from what I could tell at a glance, the gameplay looked good enough. I’ve never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies, but as far as I can tell it features people in cars shooting at each other. That sounds like fun, but this game has a major flaw in it.

It looks like garbage. Save for a few clips of cars in the trailer (which look like they were out of a cutscene anyways), this game is hard to look at. The character models look like bulky robots with human skin stretched over them, and then they lost half of their pixel count. Seriously, the models look like they were made at 480p when the rest of the game looks like 1080p.

Screenshot taken from: https://youtu.be/1bAtuMIIvyk

But that’s not nearly the only problem with the game in the trailer. First of all, there is lag. Take a moment to let that sink in. There is lag for the trailer to a game that the creators had time to edit and produce properly. If there is lag in the trailer, how much lag is there going to be in the actual game?

There is a bunch of other problems with the game, that just shows a lack of effort from the creators. For one, there is a scene where a car starts shooting at another car and hits it several times, but there are no bullet holes. The bullet effects themselves look more like lasers or energy than actual bullets. Also, and this part is kind of funny, there is an awkward animation of this guy jumping onto a train, and the animation is so ridiculously stupid it’s funny.

But this colossal fail of a trailer is nothing to the real problem of the Game Awards: the choice for best games of the year. Every year, the Game Awards sets up an online poll for a bunch of different awards, like the best action game of the year, or the best fighting game of the year. However, they have way to many categories, and that doesn’t work in their favor.

For the most part, I like how they have so many ways to vote. It shows appreciation to all of the genres, including indie titles, and gives all of the good games of the year a chance to win. However, this isn’t true in the slightest sense. The Game Awards are based on a vote, which means the most popular games are going to win. Nobody is going to vote for a game they haven’t even played. Also, only the pick for Game of the Year is actually said onstage, and the rest are shown online, meaning that they won’t receive any praise from a live audience.

When you break it down, the Game Awards this year were just a three hour slog of watching advertisements for video games, trailers for video games, and a disappointing game of the year announcement. In case you’re wondering, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won, which admittedly looks like a cool game, but considering Super Smash Bros Ultimate was also in consideration, it doesn’t seem justified.

And that is the flaw with the Game Awards. Because they choose a variety of games on different consoles for game of the year, most people who vote will have only played one or two of those games. That turns voting into a popularity contest.

So does this mean that the Game Awards should pick game of the year a different way? Should they do it based on a Metacritic score, or get a group of professional reviews to voice their opinions? No, then people would feel even worse than they would when their favorite game loses. 

If you want my advice, which you do, because you are reading this article, just ignore the pick for game of the year. Hearing that Sekiro won doesn’t devalue how fun Smash is at all. If the Game Awards continue to put on an advertiser-first display every year, people will start to catch on. But until the show improves, I don’t plan on tuning in next year.

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ review

Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on October 26th, of 2018. It was in the top 5 best games of the year, and has a huge fan base.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world, old western game that takes place in the year 1899 and is a prequel to the original game. You play as a character by the name of Arthur Morgan, a big and tough outlaw who runs with the Van Der Linde gang. The Van Der Linde gang is run by a man by the name of Dutch Van Der Linde, a charming and like able man whose goal is to have the gang live free and avoid any government officials. The game starts with the gang in the snowy mountains, just barely escaping with their lives from a bank robbery that went wrong. 

Over time, they go out to rescue one of their teammates by the name of John Marston, the man you play as in the original game.

After a while, the characters in the gang you start to like begin getting killed off.

Eventually, the whole gang starts turning on each other and Arthur and John Marston start taking each other’s side against Dutch and Dutch becomes more crazy. By the end of Arthur’s story, Arthur gets John and his family out and away from the remaining members of the Van Der Linde gang and ends up dying (Arthur can die 4 different ways depending on the choices you make).

The epilogue in the game bridges it to the story of the first Red Dead Redemption game, bringing everything full circle.

This game’s story is what honestly made the game series a lot better. The original game is good but since this game is a prequel, it added a lot more color to the first game’s story, and overall the whole series.

The characters are well written and Arthur Morgan is a very good character; he is almost as good as the original character, John Marston. The choices you make in the game depend whether or not Arthur is a good person in the end, which makes it a lot better for you to not just go around and do bad things because there are consequences.

Dutch Van Der Linde in this game is as good as the original game and he changes a lot over time from a good man to an evil person. This helps to better explain his actions in the first game.

The gameplay in this is a lot better than the first because it’s not constant horse riding. When you are riding around on your horse there are a lot of random occurrences, or side missions, that make the game realistic or just plane entertaining to play for a while.

The graphics in this game are far better than most of the graphics in video games these days and it makes the game a lot more exciting.

The soundtrack is as well made as the original game, it’s very cinematic and the music is sad at a lot of points which makes it better. The music’s lyrics are highly based on the game’s story and often the music is different depending on the choices you make.

Overall, I give this game a solid 10/10

‘Dungeons and Dragons’: The world’s greatest role-playing game

Dungeons and Dragons. What comes to mind when you heart those words? Perhaps you are a veteran of the tabletop role-playing game, and just hearing those words brings back memories of your adventures in the D&D world. More likely, you have no idea what I am talking about, and maybe think Dungeons and Dragons is some kind of video game. At the very least, one phrase comes to your mind: nerd stuff.

There is a common misconception that Dungeon and Dragons is only played by socially outcast nerds with no social life. I am here to dispel that myth; it is false. It’s not a video game either. D&D was made before video games existed. Instead, D&D is what is called a ‘tabletop role-playing game.’

But what does that mean? Basically, in D&D, there are two types of players: the Dungeon Master (called ‘DM’ for short) and the players. The DM referees the game, and is sort of the god of the world he creates. In a video game, he would be the system, the thing that controls all of the monsters and non-player characters, as well as describing the environment and world that the players are in. There is typically only one DM, and everyone else is a player. 

The players each create a character from a variety of races and classes, which are jobs, and they pretend to be their character, and react how their character would react in the world that the DM describes. The best part about character creation is that you can really be anything. If I want to be a dwarven merchant who lost his parents to a dragon attack when he was four and now wants revenge, I can.

Once characters are created, they enter the world that the Dungeon Master has created. He’ll describe the environment, and the players get to choose what they want to do with the scenario he has set up. This is the real draw of the game: the freedom. You can do anything in the D&D world if you want to. If the DM says, “you are surrounded by orcs, and help is miles away,” you can respond to that situation however you want. You can attack them, try to make peace, even bribe them to let you pass.

Does this mean there are no rules? No, of course not. The way randomness is handled in D&D is through the use of exotic dice, ranging from a four sided die to a 20 sided die, also called a d20. Whenever you want to attempt something that has a chance of failing, you roll a d20 and try to get over the DC, or difficulty class. For example, if you want to arm wrestle one of the aforementioned orcs to assert your dominance, the DM might say, “Okay! Roll a strength check.” You would roll your die, and if it got higher than the DC the DM set in his mind, then you succeed, and beat the orc in arm wrestling.

But of course, not everybody is going to have equal skill in every category. A rugged barbarian would have a better chance at beating the orc in arm wrestling than a shrimp wizard would. To show this in the gameplay, everybody has six different ability scores, which represent your expertise on one of the following attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these scores has a modifier, a bonus you add to your d20 roll that increase your chances of passing the DC. If a barbarian, who has a +4 to strength attempts to arm wrestle the orc, then the DC is technically 4 lower for him because if he rolls 4 under the DC, his check will still work because his strength modifier increase the total of the roll to be over the DC.

I know that’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but that is just the technical stuff, for those curious about how the game works. To sum it up, you pretend to be a character in a fictional world in your imagination, and you make decisions, as in that world, and the success of those decisions is determined by your dice rolls and how good your character is in that particular field. This system is the basis for the technical part of the game, to make sure the game is fair, but the rest of it is up to you. 

I’m serious about that. Although this game is designed for the world you create to have a medieval-fantasy setting, you can make it whatever you want. If you want your story to take place in outer space, you can do that! Want to add laser guns? Simple, just make up some basic stats for it, and it’s as good as real. Remember, the stats are not what drives this game, imagination is what is. As long as you adhere to the core rules, you should be fine.

Making your own things for D&D, whether they be rules, weapons and armor, classes, races, items, or anything else, this process is called, “homebrew.” Homebrewing your own things can really make your adventure stand out. But say you don’t have time to create your own stuff, you just don’t have the free time to whip up some unique ideas. First of all, as a DM, it takes a lot of planning and effort to make a successful adventure. You’re going to want to spend a lot of your free time preparing for the next time you play if you want to get into this game.

But for those who really don’t have the time, or just want to see what other D&D players, both DMs and players, have come up with, then may I suggest www.dandwiki.com? This site is home to thousands of user generated pages, including everything from homebrew classes and races, to entire settings for your worlds. The site even has fan-made content from existing fiction, meaning you can play as people like Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Iron Man from the Marvel franchise, and even Jedi Knights from Star Wars.

Why else should you use D&D Wiki? I would say that it really helps you understand the full concept of D&D itself. By spending time on fan-made pages, you learn how to effectively make your own homebrew stuff by seeing what others are doing. You may have a concept or idea in your head, but don’t know how to implement it into the game. Chances are, you can find a rule or take inspiration from something on the Wiki and use it in your game. 

Here’s the thing: www.dandwiki.com is currently blocked by the school, meaning you can’t use it on your iPad at all, even when you are at home. Now, I know that the school has good reasons for blocking sites, and those reasons usually boil down to one of two things: they are not appropriate or they waste time. Allow me to explain why D&D wiki should not be blocked for either of these reasons.

First, the argument that this site wastes time in school. Well it’s true that I would spend a considerable amount of time on the site, both in and out of school, that doesn’t change a thing about wasted time. There are plenty of ways to waste time on your school iPad, even if the district were to block all the gaming sites in the world. Basically, using your iPad to waste time is a choice that the student makes, and blocking time wasting sites is not an incentive not to waste time.

Secondly, this site is by no means inappropriate. It’s true that Dungeons & Dragons is a generally mature game, that usually refers to the mental age required to play it effectively rather than if it has blood or not. You have to be older to play it, but that doesn’t mean every game is an edgy blood soaked battlefield. It’s up to the DM and players to agree upon if they will describe mature things in the game. There is a total ban on all foul language and mature content on D&D Wiki, if that is the issue.

So yeah, that sums up my article on Dungeons and Dragons. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, go ahead and check it out. All you really need to play is a Player’s Handbook, which you can find online for like $30. If you want to check it out, you can buy a starter pack for even cheaper, which gives you a premade adventure and premade characters for you to play. 

Also, as it turns out, the co-creator of D&D, David Lance Arneson, is a graduate from this very school! I didn’t even know that until I wrote this article. I mean, I knew the game was made by people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I never knew how close I really was to the creators of this game. 

If you want to find out more about David, check out this article:  https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2019/05/david-arneson-the-co-creator-of-dungeons-dragons-developed-the-game-in-minnesota/

So, if you have a creative mind, and are feeling bored with the limited choices of video game adventures, then consider playing one of my favorite games of all time: Dungeons & Dragons.

‘Red Dead Redemption’ spoiler review

By: Isaac Basques

The first Red Dead Redemption game was released on May 18th, of 2010. It was released by the game company Rockstar games.

The game is an open world, set in the old west, with a 10 hour long main story, along with a ton of side stories and missions for you to do. It’s a third person shooter but also a game that the player can just ride around and enjoy the scenery or story.

In this game, you play a character by the name of John Marston, a former outlaw, who’s family is held hostage by the government who are forcing him to kill off the remaining members of his old gang who left him for dead in a train heist years back.

John goes through helping tons of people in order to get to his old gang members and finish them off. Everything eventually leads to John killing off, or capturing, his old gang members (since it is a choice in the game). His old gang members names are Javier Esquella and Bill Williamson.

After John finishes them both off, he soon finds out that his old gang leader who taught him to read and was basically a father to him, is still alive. His name is Dutch Van Der Linde. John finds him and watches him end his own life.

After finally doing what John needs to do, he goes home to see his family and soon after gets shot and left for dead by the government, along with a family member of theirs by the name of Uncle. 3 years later, John’s son Jack finds the government man behind his father’s death and finishes him off.

This game, in my opinion, is by far one of the most well written video games. It isn’t necessarily a happy story at all, but it makes you feel like it is, due to its light hearted jokes from time to time and its constant fun with action.

The main character, John Marston, is very well written and you can really feel his struggle with the fact that he really does not want to kill his old gang, despite the fact that they left him for dead. He just wants to live a normal life with his family on his ranch. John his very tough and ready for a fight, I’d like to say he’s not to be messed with, but he honestly gets used one too many times by too many people, and he just kind of lets it slide. Other than that, John Marston is a great character.

The other character in this game that I think they did an amazing job with, is John’s old gang leader, Dutch Van Der Linde. Dutch is a charming, yet evil man, who you can tell lost his mind years ago and hasn’t been the same since. The chemistry between him and John Marston feels very real and it actually feels as if John once saw him as a father figure. His final moment in the game is one of the best parts in the whole game because of the long speech he makes that strongly indicates that what John Marston is going through is not going to end well.

The graphics for this game are beautiful, especially for its time. The sunsets look like actual sunsets and the landscapes are just very nice to look at while you ride on your horse.

The gameplay for this game is overall not the best. The shootouts in the game can be fun but it often gets pretty boring just riding your horse around to area to area for long periods of time. You often spend more time riding your horse around in this game than you do actually playing the story.

Sometimes it makes up for the more boring moments when you come across strangers or small occurrences here and there, but other than that, there isn’t that many exciting things that happen when you’re playing.

It’s often drawn out for far too long, but there’s a lot of elements in this game that make you really have fun with it, such as the soundtrack when you ride your horse for certain missions, or really cool gun fights, and etc.

Which brings me to the soundtrack. The soundtrack is very good in this game and is western type music, but makes it feel a little more modern day and not too country like. They put the music in at a lot of good moments in the game so you can have a strong connection to it. 

Overall, I give this game a solid 9.5/10

‘Untitled Goose Game’ review

Untitled Goose Game is a game where you play as a goose who tries his best to mess with the inhabitants of his village. Released by House House on September 20th, it has since been praised with critical acclaim, as well as a 98% “liked it” score according to Google Users. But is this game really that good? Does it deserve the 81/100 on Metacritic? Let’s find out.

The first thing you notice about Untitled Goose Game is how it looks. For starters, there is very minimal outlines on anything, and shadows are often subtly shaded so they are generally unnoticeable if you are not looking for them. This gives the entire game a cartoony vibe, but does it in a way that doesn’t sacrifice depth. It’s very hard to explain without pictures, so here one is:

Everything you need to know about this game can be seen in the picture above. You are a Goose, and your job is to steal the human’s belongings and mess with their lives every way you can. The game has a unique art style, not one I particularly like, but definitely one I don’t despise. 

Untitled Goose Game has simple controls. You move around with the control stick, can zoom in or out with the triggers, and you press A to grab stuff with your beak. You can grab most things, whether they are apples, radios, or even harmonicas. Oh yeah, you also have a honk button, which does just what you think it does. With this dedicated arsenal, you are ready to control the townspeople to your every whim.

The music in this game plays a big role in the over all experience, although not in the way you would expect. There is no real soundtrack, no background music that plays during the game. However, whenever you try to attempt something, like sneaking up on a villager, classical music will play at the same intensity as the situation. In this example, it would start to play creeping piano music as you approached the villager, and the music will intensify when you start to steal their stuff.

This is a good base for a game, but in my opinion, this entire game is lacking in fun. Even though it is a sandbox game, it feels like there is nothing to do. You have a checklist of things you need to do to beat the game, like locking the Boy in the telephone booth or getting the Groundskeeper to hit his own hand with the hammer. The game doesn’t tell you how to do this, so you have to use your limited arsenal of honks and beak grabs to achieve everything. Sometimes, this is simple, like honking at the exact moment the Groundskeeper attempts to hit the sign with his hammer.

But because the game doesn’t give you any hints on how you have to figure things out, every puzzle in the game is one you need to solve on your own. Normally, I like puzzle games, but because this game doubles as a stealth game, there is no sense of progression when solving puzzles. In a game like Portal, you have every piece of the puzzle, and through trial and error, you can slowly figure out how to solve a puzzle. In Untitled Goose Game, there is still trial and error, but instead of discovering new ways to solve the puzzle, you simply try the same thing over and over again, waiting a while in between attempts for the villagers you are messing with to go to the spot you want them to.

That’s my main problem with this game. I have some other minor issues, like how the camera never really angles itself on what you want, and there are no camera controls besides zooming in and out, which don’t really accomplish much. It doesn’t ruin the experience by any means, but I wish there was someway to toggle the zoom out button so you didn’t have to hold it.

So, is this game worth it? Despite its flaws, is it worth the 20 dollar Nintendo Eshop price? I would argue not. Even though it has the word “game” in its title, I don’t really consider it a game. It’s an experience, something you’ll play a few times to fulfill that desire to mess with some people for a few hours. At best, I would wait for one of your friends to buy it, and then just play it when you’re at their place. 

My final rating for Untitled Goose Game is 6/10.

‘Skyrim’ for Nintendo Switch

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, is an open world RPG made by Bethesda, which, as we all know and agree upon, is the best video game developer in history. The reason it’s called Skyrim is because they were to lazy so simply say “horizon.” In Skyrim, you play as the Dragonborn, a mythical hero with the blood and soul of a dragon, that can speak the language of dragons, but spends the entire game killing dragons.

Skyrim starts out with you being taken towards your execution, with some other side characters that will either die in a few minutes or will never come up again. Actually, they might. I don’t know, I haven’t beaten this game yet. 

When you get to the execution, you get to create your character, by which I mean you pick from 9 playable races and spend way too much time deciding facial features that will never come up or aren’t noticeable. You also get to pick a name, which doesn’t matter either, because the game has voice acting and might not be able to pronounce your name. 

And you’re off, as a dragon attacks the execution and ironically saves you from being beheaded. After spending the first few minutes with your hands tied, you finally make it to a safe area with either an imperial soldier or a rebel (the choice doesn’t matter, you go through the same dungeon to escape from the town anyway). On your way out, you learn useful mechanics, like sneaking, fighting, and how much bows suck.

Once you finish the first dungeon, you have access to all of Skyrim. The guy you escaped with will give you a quest marker, but you can ignore it and just sorta do what you want. In my first session, I traveled to the northeast and ended up in this one town with a murder mystery, and I had to help solve it.

“Cool!” I thought. “What could go wrong with this?”

Everything. First of all, Skyrim has a problem with quests. The menu you access that shows your quests is bland and unorganized, and it doesn’t do a good job of showing which quests you want to do. 

Secondly, the game has a mini-map problem. A compass at the top of the screen will always show which way you are headed, and marks the directions of stuff like the nearest town. However, it also marks quest trackers. Here’s the problem: Every objective in the quest is marked, meaning to complete a quest, you basically just have to go where your mini-map tells you to.

I ended up abandoning the quest and decided to play the actual game. Speaking of the game, how does it play? Well enough, I would say. Except for motion controls. Motion controls suck. Don’t use them. 

For basic controls, you have two buttons mapped to each hand to use whatever is in that hand. If you have a shield in your left hand, and a sword in your right then those buttons will either use the sword to attack or block with the shield. If you are holding a two-handed sword, then you attack with the right hand button and block with the left. At first, I had a difficult time with the controls, but then I realized you can change any buttons to do anything in the settings menu, so I got over it pretty quick.

There are basically two pause menus: one for saving, settings, and stuff like that, and another for actual gameplay. The gameplay pause menu has four branches: Inventory, Map, Magic, and Skills. Inventory and Map are self explanatory, and the only thing you need to know about the Magic menu is that it also shows your active affects, like any poisons or disease you have, as well as your powers, like Amiibo support and dragon shouts, which we’ll get into later.

But the Skills menu is special. You have about 30 different skills, like one-handed, alchemy, sneak, restoration, etc. The more you use a skill, the more you level it up on a scale from about 10 to 100. When you level up a skill, you also get experience, which goes to leveling up your character. When you level up your character, you can choose between increasing your magic, stamina, or health, and also get to pick one feature from a certain skill, like increasing the damage of two handed weapons, healing more hit points from restoration spells, or being able to sell anything to any type of merchant.

It’s worth mentioning that this game is freaking huge! I’ve been playing for 10+ weeks and haven’t come close to discovering everything. My quest log is flooded with quests, both main and side, and I haven’t even been to every major town yet. However, the size of the game doesn’t always work in it’s favor.

See, Skyrim is what is known as an “RPG”, which means role-playing game. Role-playing means taking on the role of someone else and acting as they would, like playing pretend with rules. The RPG category is pretty broad, so normally I wouldn’t discredit a game for how it handles character interactions, but Skyrim is a special case. 

In Skyrim, when you are in a character interaction, you will have several dialogue options to choose from. Most of the time, the options they game gives you are pretty diverse, so you can make your character, at least in your eyes, friendly, hostile, sassy, basically any personality you want or can invision on your character. Sometimes the options are pretty sparse, but every game with detailed character interactions is like this, so I’m willing to let it slide.

“But Oliver,” you ask. “How does the character interactions have anything to do with the size of the world?”

I’ll tell you. The world of Skyrim is so huge you are bound to get distracted by anything and everything. Every side quest offers new possibilities for adventure, so of course you’re going to delay the main quest. But the size of Skyrim’s map means the game is going to be much longer, and in between play sessions the average player is going to forget what they are doing.

This means that you don’t really care about the character interactions because you just want to go onto your next quest by following the marker on the minimap. This issue is made even worse by the fact that all of the dungeons are very similar, and so is the quest design. 

Most quests follow the same formula: Go to a town, talk to a guy, now talk to another guy, now go complete a dungeon, and then go back to these guys called the “Greybeards,” which are sort of like your protectors to learn a new Shout, which is a special power only you and the Greybeards have.

Despite the formulaic plot structure, I really like some of the plot design in Skyrim. It focuses on certain “wow” moments that you get when playing, like fighting your first dragon, and hearing the “Song of the Dragonborn” play in the background. Another example is a remarkable character interaction, like when you find out that the innkeeper in the first town is secretly part of this underground organization.

By far my favorite dungeon was the one where you had to sneak into a party for a bunch of royal snobs and then sneak out and find information the host was hiding. It was a super unique quest, and I remember every aspect of it fondly. There was even this one part where I interrogated a prisoner and then punched him to death, and a glitch activated where he flew out of his chains and started flailing around on the floor for 30 seconds. It was surprising, not intended by the game developers, and honestly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Unlike other RPGs, there are no classes in Skyrim, but the game is designed around three unique play styles: Thief, Warrior, and Mage. Thieves focus on the lock picking and sneak skills, and try to get critical hits by sneaking up on enemies. Warriors tend to use a variety of weapons and level up their one handed, two handed, block, and heavy armor skills. Mages focus on upgrading their magic, and skills like destruction, restoration, illusion, and conjuration skills, which are all different types of magic.

What I like about this system is that you can choose what you want to do with your level up abilities. Your character can be whatever you want, and it’s not really limited to the three main play styles. For example, I played a Warrior, but spent some of my levels into increasing my restoration skill, so on paper I was like a Paladin, which if you don’t know, are holy warriors that derive healing magic from their gods. If you wanted to be a Ranger, you could focus on the archery skill and also have some conjuration spells to summon a beastly companion. There are so many options.

Even if you don’t play a Mage, you have access to some magic called, “Shouts,” that you learn from those Greybeard people I mentioned. They will teach you how to do it, you can equip them in the Magic menu to the special powers button. Each one has a unique effect, like one pushes people away from you and another just sets everything on fire. The best part about them is that they don’t require magic to use, and instead have a cooldown timer, so that anyone can use them and no play style is better at them than others.

Oh yeah, this is the Switch port of Skyrim, so I have to talk about Amiibo. Amiibo can be used once per day, and when they are used, a Breath of the Wild style chest falls from the sky. 90% of the time, it will contain useless ingredients, but you have an off chance of getting some rare Breath of the Wild gear, like Link’s blue “Champion’s Tunic,” or even the Master Sword. I actually got the Champion’s Tunic, but died before I saved, so I didn’t get to keep it. It’s okay, because you can find both of them hidden on the actual game, so you don’t need Amiibo to get them.

I could talk about this game forever. To recount all of my adventurers would take hours and several more pages, so I’ll leave it out with this: Skyrim is a great game, and I would recommend it to anyone, but only if you have the time. If you’re in it for the long haul, just sit back and relax, and don’t expect a super engaging story. My only complaint is that there should be more to do on the title menu so you have an excuse to listen to the title theme for longer.

My final rating for this game is a 9/10.

Highlights from the recent Apple event

Everyone knows about Apple. The extremely successful company has grown over the years and has created many revolutionary products of our time, like the iPhone. Recently, they had an event where they showcased some of the new products they were releasing this year. Here are some of the highlights:

New iPad

The newest iPad is better and cheaper than ever, with a starting price of just $329. That’s a great price considering the iPad is like a computer and many people use iPads on a daily basis for work and school.

The new iPad also has a 100% recycled aluminum body and comes with a free, year-long subscription to Apple TV+. We’ll get to that later.

Apple Watch Series 5

This announcement was expected at the event, but nevertheless was exciting. This new Apple Watch has many new features that can make your life much easier. Some of these features include a new compass function, and many health-monitoring features, including a heart rate monitor and an emergency phone call function if you can’t access your phone.

The best new feature is an always-on feature, where the display of the watch never turns off, which is very useful.

Apple Arcade and Apple TV+

Some of the software features announced were the Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.  Apple Arcade is a subscription service that allows access to a wide variety of games to be played on your iPad or iPhone. There were over 100 titles released when it launched on September 19, from big game companies like Capcom and Konami.

The other subscription service announced was Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is, when boiled down, Apple’s take on a television streaming service, similar to Netflix or Hulu. The service has original TV shows and movies, and is set to release on November 1st for $5 a month.

iPhone 11

The announcement of the night, that had to take the cake, was the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro. These new iPhones have tons of new features that top them from their previous models, especially the iPhone 11 Pro. It comes with 3 cameras, which includes an ultrawide camera lense. This lense is used to take very wide photos that look amazing, and it is considered the greatest camera on a mobile phone, ever.

 

Apple has created a wide list of products, and is improving on them now more than ever. These products are designed to be integrated into our everyday life and match with our lifestyle. Apple products have many uses, and can help make our lives easier.

‘Mario Kart Tour’ review

Nintendo just released a Mario Kart game for mobile platforms, called, “Mario Kart Tour.” I’m not going to lie, when I first heard this, I almost lost it. In my mind, there was almost no way this game could work. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is already playable on the go, thanks to the Switch, and I just didn’t see a need for a mobile Mario Kart game. At the start, I was mildly annoyed that Nintendo would put one of my favorite games on mobile just for money.

Then I saw how the game played, and things got a whole lot more complicated. You see, my first real experience with this game was watching my friends play it at lunch. After just a minute of viewing, I could already tell something was off. The swipe controls were comically bad, and you had to play the game vertically. My blood was boiling. How could they make such a good game awful. YOU HAD ONE JOB NINTENDO!!! ONE JOB!!!

I put off playing the game for another week, until finally I couldn’t put it off anymore. Begrudgingly, I fired up the app. The first thing I noticed was that they randomly give you a character. I got Toad, which is good, because he’s my favorite. Still, I don’t like any system that practically forces you to play as someone you don’t want to.

Lakitu, that floating turtle on the cloud, acted as my tutorial. I mentioned how the swipe controls are bad, but here’s the real kicker: it isn’t even explained well. The tutorial simply says, “swipe which way you want to turn,” not “swipe from the opposite side to turn a little bit. Also, it doesn’t work sometimes.” 

Controls aren’t even close to the only issue with this game. First of all, it looks like garbage, even for a mobile game. All of the textures look blocky and unfinished, and take one moment to look off the track, you can see how little thought was given to the art.

Oh, but you can’t even look off the track, because the game is played vertically. Look at every other Mario Kart game; they are all played on TVs so of course they are played horizontally. But “Mario Kart Tour” is played the same way you play “Knife Hit.” Your view of the road is extremely limited, and this means you have less time to dodge or maneuver around other players.

Whoops, silly me! There are no other players! This game doesn’t support multiplayer yet! But for some reason that we mere mortals cannot begin to comprehend, it still pairs you up with other players names! This means you are racing against CPUs, but you still have to have an internet connection to play because it needs to load in their names! 

This is stupid for multiple reasons. One, it means people can’t play a mobile game outside of their house unless they want to use data. Two, it means that when you pause the game, the other races, which are computers might I remind you, still keep racing, just like if you paused any other online game. But remember, it’s not an online game! Nintendo’s strange desire to have us on an internet connection whenever we play this game is hurting the game design because it makes us commit to a race.

But the most bizarre thing of all is when you leave the match, the game pauses for real. Let that sink in. When you press the pause button in game, all it does is bring up the settings menu. But when you leave the app, the game freezes and waits indefinitely for your return, as long as you don’t close the window. All this horrid system does is let the game keep running when you want to change settings, or adjust the music volume.

That was it. After a single race (which now only have two laps, for some odd reason), I was ready to write this game off as a cheesy cash grab that people would spend money on because it’s, legally speaking, “Mario Kart.”

But then, after my first race, I went into settings and saw this:

You can change to motion controls. I don’t even remember why I even went into settings, as soon as I saw this, I turned it on and was in the next race.

As it turns out, the motion controls aren’t half bad. You still have to play the game vertically, which sucks because when you tilt the device, the position of the screen changes, and sometimes you can’t see it when turning. There is no sensitivity adjuster, so you’re stuck like this until they release an update.

But, as luck would have it, I found myself enjoying the game a lot more. It was nice to have some semblance of actual control over my Kart, and before I knew it I had completed the first world. The game is actually kind of fun.

Of course, I still have a lot to go over. First and foremost, the app is free, but does have in-app purchases. There are two in-game currencies, gold coins and rubies. The thing is, you can only buy rubies, just like in “Clash of Clans,” where you can only buy gems. However, in “Clash of Clans,” the other two currencies (gold and elixir) actually have uses in-game other than to spin loot boxes (which we’ll talk about in a sec). In “Mario Kart Tour,” rubies are just a way of confusing the player in how much money they’re spending. 

Oh yeah, rubies can also be spent on loot boxes, sorry, “Mystery Pipes,” which give you items like new racers and Karts. Of course it does the tutorial thing, where it gives you free in-game currency and lets you spin it for free. This is stupid, because as of right now, there is no way to access the stats of the Karts, so any more Karts is just for aesthetic. I was lucky to get my favorite character in the tutorial, but I can’t really imagine playing as someone I don’t like the entire time.

Even so, this game is still fun. Most of the gripes I mentioned can be overlooked, and the game isn’t awful when you have motion controls on. If you just don’t spend money on the game, and enjoy it as a mobile game, I recommend downloading it.

My final rating for this game is a 7/10, when I was expecting something like a 3/10.

Can machines think?

 

Artificial Intelligence is a big part of how our world is today and what our future will look like. When people go on Google, put something in Google Translate, or order an Uber, they don’t realize how much A.I. is really doing. 

So what is Artificial Intelligence? A.I. is a broad branch of computer sciences. Its goal is to create different systems that can work intelligently and independently.

In more simple words, A.I. makes computers have the intelligence of humans.

There are different algorithms being made, or are already made, that allow computers to solve problems that used to be solved by humans.

The possibilities for A.I. are endless and are being used every single day. Just to name a few examples: A.I. powers voice-based devices, filters our emails, and guides our search engines.

A great example is Tesla’s new model; it’s self driving car. A.I. is a computer within the car. It holds all the road safety rules within it to drive just like a person. 

Now that we know what Artificial Intelligence is, let’s get into the most frequently asked question about it – What will happen if a strong A.I. system succeeds and becomes better at cognitive tasks than humans? 

A.I. has a great potential to become more intelligent than humans in the near future.

How will it behave in the shape of a robot? Will it get out of control and take over?

People ask questions about safety and how humans will stay in control of the machines that could be stronger than anything. The future of it is unpredictable.

Scientists have never done anything like this in the past, so there’s nothing to base what they are doing off of. There’s high controversy on weather to make A.I. stronger than it is, or to not use the resources and leave it be.

No matter what does happen. Artificial Intelligence has forever changed the earth.