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Play and Comment: I wish I were the Moon & Don’t Shit Your Pants



Play & Comment: I wish I were the Moon; Don’t Shit Your Pants
By Joshua Long
Nothing beats a game that starts with a boy on top of the moon and a girl floating in a boat on top of the water. I wish I were the Moon is about a love triangle between a girl, a boy, and the moon. The objective is to move different elements around in the scene to create eight alternate endings. The core mechanic of the gameplay involves the player moving around a snapshot box to take a copy of the elements and place them on the scene. By moving the elements around the scene, they interact differently and create different endings. This allows the player to be creative and test the different objects on the scene. In short, this mechanic takes the command-line out of the gameplay completely.
If this game sported the command-line, the player would spend their time typing in, “TAKE BOY OFF MOON. THROW GIRL INTO WATER.” The romantic and awkward feeling of placing the girl next to the boy visually on the moon only to watch it sink would be gone. This game included the element of visually exploring different possibilities to the player by giving them the option to move elements in the scene without creating havoc. The player can move the bird, the boy, the girl, the meteor, and the moon when it floats into the distance. The girl constantly stares at the boy, and the boy stares at the moon, which allows the player to see how each element will interact when they move them around.
Don’t Shit Your Pantsis a game about, well, going to the bathroom. You must achieve opening the bathroom door, going into the bathroom, taking your pants off, sitting on the toilet, shitting in the toilet.  The game itself is simple in its mechanics, but it possesses a different type of gameplay from any other command-line game. In the game, the player is provided with a graphical interface to aid in what they need to do. You can visually see that the character has pants on. You can visually see the bathroom door, and you know, as a player, that you make choices based on what you see. Instead of the command line printing out paragraph after paragraph of story for the player to pick from, the visuals give instant clarity to what you can interact with.
A mechanic that must be used with the interaction visuals are the objects within the scene. For instance, if a clock were to hang on the wall during the game, a player would think to interact with the clock to see what they could do with it, thus making time run out before shitting your pants. This brings me to the next mechanic that command-line games do not possess normally, the aspect of time. You could spend hours trying to figure out how to write the correct commands to open a door in this game, until you realize you have 40 seconds to find out what you need to do. The aspect of time puts the player under a lot of pressure on the player to figure out how they can beat the game without shitting themselves.
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VB.net Programming: Code Snippet – Bring Form to Front



(I know that code above isn’t vb.net)


Introduction
Hello everyone, I decided to post this code snippet in my blog because I could not find it anywhere else! This is something super simple, yet not obvious because everyone skirts around the actual problem. Let me break this down and get started for you.

Problem
You have TONS of windows generated from your project, yet you give the user the option to rename the forms. How do you select and bring a user-created form to the top so they don’t have to dig through everything?

Solution
Dim frm As Form = My.Application.OpenForms.Item(cmbTimers.SelectedIndex + 1)
frm.TopMost = True
frm.TopMost = False

Let me explain a little on how to implement this code. First, we have to create a new variable to store the form we are looking for. In my code example, I am searching for the name of a timer (renamed by the user) using a combo box. I populate the combo box and keep it updated when the user changes the name of their form, so this makes searching easier. You can use list boxes, arrays, etc. to store the form names for later use.

My.Application.OpenForms.Item(INDEX) gives us the chance to search the forms created in a specific order. So, every time a form is created, make sure you are storing the name somewhere in the list that you have. frm.TopMost = True makes the form come to the front, and frm.TopMost = False makes sure the form does not ALWAYS stay on top.

DONE!

Conclusion
But, Josh, why would you post this on the internet? It seems so useless and easy! My answer to that is, I had to create this because I could NOT find this anywhere else on the internet after hours of searching. I had to search the documentation, and NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE wants to do that. Enjoy!

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Play & Comment: Looming & The Warbler’s Nest



Play and Comment: The Warbler’s Nest & Looming
By Joshua Long
Warbler’s Nest
http://jmac.org/warbler/play.html
We play games with more visuals that we may end up seeing in a lifetime! The Warbler’s Nest brings us back to the reason we need storytellers for video games. The artists may be able to create an image and show us what the designer’s idea looks like, but nothing can beat an individual’s imagination. One person sees text-based games in a different way than the next person who plays the same game. While playing through for the first time, I instantly went into searching the layout around the cottage. I wanted to see how far I could travel, what I could find, and where everything was placed in the world created for this text-adventure.
I took a second to read everything over as I explored the map and was left with a strange feeling. I was thinking to myself, “What on earth is going on in this game?” The mechanic of exploration is limited to such a small area around the cottage: you have the garden, the beach, a river leading into the ocean, and the forest to the north. So, I looked into what other mechanics were given throughout the game for the player (me) to use. All I knew is what I cared to learn, and the character only allowed me to use a few actions such as: pick up, examine, drop, break, search, open, listen, and take. I used many more actions to examine the map, but only a few came back useful to the story.
Deeper into the story, I found out there were multiple endings. My instincts were to go against all of the prompts and take the game to its extremes. As soon as I walked into the cottage to find out what the baby was, I started getting goose-flesh while reading the prompt. I almost felt a connection to the game as I started typing in, “use rock on baby.” By this time in the game, I was invested into finding out the main goal, and I never found a use for the rock! With the limited exploration mechanic, I was visualizing what this game looks like, whereas someone else will see the game world completely different than I, and they could find different endings to achieve.


Looming
http://jayisgames.com/games/looming/
Although I did not finish finding the bones to open the last portal, I feel the time to write about Loomingis now. The previous game, a text-based adventure game, shares similar qualities as this game. While playing through the black-space, white-speckled land of Looming, I discovered the content of exploration played on the element of curiosity. In other mainstream video games, objectives are clear and you know what to look for and you can pick out the items easily. This is not the case with Looming. The longer I hold the directional arrow, the faster the character moves; the faster the character moves the fewer artifacts I spotted.
With the movement mechanic implemented the way it is, I was forced to slow down and explore the land one location at a time. When I found a large pile of what seemed to be rubble, I found an artifact laying close by. Each artifact I collected led me to discover more information about the world I was exploring. Mystery played its role in the collection of artifacts, because all I knew was what the game wanted me to know. There were hidden pillars with information to unlock a portal, “bugs” were flying around as a distraction, and the story referred to a couple of names that make no sense to the game. This stigma of exploration and occasional discovery led me to play the game for about an hour.
After my inventory filled up, I felt the need to go around the map really fast and see if there was a large object I did not recognize so I could find more artifacts. I was compelled to search the same places and look where I already traveled, because the game drew me in through the mystery of what the end of the game holds. Each time I stepped through a portal and learned more about the world, the game sent me to the main menu where I could enter the game again and pick up where I left off. I started looking deeper into the story and felt as though a loved one was lost, and the character I controlled needed to find these artifacts to unlock a portal back to see the one they lost.
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Play & Comment: Passage/Spent


Play and Comment: Passage & Spent
By Joshua Long

Overview
This blog post is about the in-depth analysis of a few concepts in two games about life from a game design perspective.

Passage
In short (no pun intended), Passage, a game about the passage of time and the inevitable fate of death after life, left me with more questions than answers. This might be true for most upcoming and senior game designers, so I want to analyze some of my more in-depth questions about the game itself. I played through the game over and over to find out the different outcomes of the game. To that end, I found I died quite a bit! I started out playing single, explored the map, found love, went forward in travel, and went backwards in travel, even stayed back in the first location to find out how long I could last! Each time I played, I tried something new.
When I first started, I noticed the entire right side of the map was blurry, yet that side of the map had a plethora of colors and movement! I waited about 5 minutes into the gameplay to find out if that ever changes; to no surprise, I noticed the right side started losing colors and my character aged a little bit. No matter how far you travel, or where you go, time passes. We go through our daily lives without making much of an impact in the world when we choose to be the fly on the wall. This game shows that exact scenario when you start the game and choose not to do anything; you still die after your time runs out.
Another play-through of the game left me curious about what I could do as far as exploration with or without the woman character in the game. I noticed how you are limited to the different areas you may enter when the woman you are in love with joins you on your adventure. The space your characters can fit into halves due to the need of fitting two characters into the space at one time. Without the ability to travel into single-block areas, you must be strategic in exploring the map with the woman. Although you are not able to get the chests for points (100), when you travel to the right, you gain 2 points every second of travel in that direction. While alone, I noticed I could travel to other areas of the map and collect more chests to the total of 750 points before my character died. The most points I reached with the woman was 560 before we both died.
Taking out the points and the exploration, this game really showed me the different life you lead while in love or while single. Either way, you will die in the end, but the in-between is your choice to make.
Spent
As a full-time working college student living on his own, I feel like this game, Spent, spoke to me the most in times of hardships. I grew up in a family where money discussion never passed through my ears, because my parents did not want us (me and my two brothers) to worry about money. So, I never worried about how or where money came from in my life, but I was fortunate enough to know where to get money and how to make it. On the weekends throughout the year, I would go through our neighborhood and as people if they needed help with anything from landscaping in the spring/summer to snow removal in the fall/winter (I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, so snow removal was a normal thing). I offered low pricing to anyone and everyone, because I was not in the work for the money; I wanted to help people, but it’s hard to justify working for free sometimes.
I noticed that my parents were always working, so I felt the need to work as well, and with responsibility came more responsibility. Unfortunately, I never learned how to manage my money at such a young age, so I always “spent” what I made. This game brought in some real life situations I have seen already in my life, and even though it is a game, I had a difficult time making some of the decisions. One prompt came up asking if I wanted my kid to skip going to the museum; I said for him/her to skip the trip because it has happened to me in the past. Spentconnects with me on different levels of emotion, and proves to me that you do need help every once-in-awhile. Putting aside your pride and allowing others to help you is not always a bad decision, but you have to be willing to ask because humans are not mind readers.
At the end of the game, I did make it through the month with $323 left over. After a series of hard decisions and remembering past decisions on health insurance and staying healthy, I was able to make this game happen as a package worker about 10 miles out from town. The hard decisions have to be made, but in the end, everything will work out as it was meant to in the real world; this game shows how difficult those decisions might be sometimes.
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Why do I want to become a Game Designer?


Why do I want to become a game designer?

Playing video games became a rarity for me growing up in a strict household. I could play video games once a day for one hour. You may think I was a deprived child without video games, and I was very deprived! Limited game time never stopped me from becoming creative. While in the 5th grade, I finished all of my work early in art class so I could work on a board game I created called, The Plague. When I finished the board game, eight people from the class joined me on my adventure to test the game. Everyone who played loved the game, and everyone who did not play, wished they had! My drive to become a video game designer comes from my strong passion of creation and design. Growing up without video games always at hand made me want to create my own games out of anything and everything!

Good ‘ole me!

My concerns as an upcoming and aspiring game designer lie within the current world of entertainment as a whole. I keep thinking to myself about how video games are at a stand-still with their design, and the whole idea that the art of games are dying scares me. So, I take a step back and realize that is what the gaming companies want us to think as players. They release the same game over and over until they squeeze enough money from people to fund their next big hit. No longer am I a fool to the trap as I come through college courses; I learn more each day about life and find new ways to apply the art of gaming to life. Possibilities are limitless when you look outside the box.

Speaking of standing outside the box to think about new possible games, I took the initiative to stand myself apart from most students my age. Do you remember that board game I created back in 5th grade? Well, the board game was only the beginning of my adventures in game creation. From there, I went on to learning various game creation tools and developed the computer skills to create digital games on the computer. Each day I learn something new that I can apply to my career path, and I strive to learn the different aspects of video game creation through creating my own video games. Although most of my titles never make it past the creation stage, I still learn from each project and gain wisdom on what to do and what not to do while creating video games.

Aside from all of the experience and fun I have in creating video games, I still have a difficult time getting passed the stress it creates while trying to complete a video game. I do not like making excuses to why I do not finish my games but a lot of the reason comes from lack of time. When you are a 1-man team creating a video game, you need to think of all the assets you need to create, and most people are NOT all artists, programmers, and designers at the same time. Fortunately, I have skills from each pillar. At times, these skills are dangerous because I can get my ideas out. Other times, I can only get the idea out and never create a working product. I look forward to breaking into the industry and following my dreams day-by-day as a game designer all the way to owning my own educational and casual video game company!

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Shifter: The Beginning


I found an old story I wrote back in 2008! I thought I would share it with anyone who would like to read it.

8-12-08

Shifter: The Beginning

It was a medieval time of peace where man and creature could live in harmony together where there was no war, and times were evolving with the knowledge of mankind. This was a great time to be living in 2052; everything around the civilians was forests, and large, beautiful mountains. Animals roamed freely without the worry of humans trying to kill them. All animals were able to talk to the humans; they have developed the tongue of the human, and had the ability to move their mouths to form words of the English language. Everything was perfect until one man named, Heath, at the age of 27, decided test his abilities in engineering. Heath decided that he would invent a machine that could send humans back to the past, just so he could see what the past was really like.

All in all, Heath thought this to be a great idea, and even some of the other civilians around Void, a small village in the middle of a forest that is south of Genetics Corporation, thought that his idea just might work. There was only one problem in making this machine; Heath had to find metal to make the teleporter, and the only place that had metal was Genetics Corporation in the center of the continent. That journey would take months to get there, so Heath decided to lay off this idea…for now.

Four years later, Heath had come across sheet metal that was 4’x5’, he would be able to use on his machine that could teleport people back into the past. Heath took up the piece of metal, and ran back home to where he could layout the design of the machine. Heath did not have much time because of the patrol that came through every hour to make sure that everything was in order. Heath cut through the large forest behind his house to ensure that he made it home in time. Just as Heath made it to the door of his house…

“Hello Sir,” a patrolling guard asked Heath from behind, “What might be your business with that sheet of metal?”

Heath though fast on the spot, “Oh, this? I was going to use it for one of my engineering projects; I found it in the forest, under a dead tree.”

“Alright, as long as you aren’t making any guns, you know that is against the King’s rules,” the guard said as he skimmed over the sheet of metal that was now slipping out of Heath’s hands.

“No, no, I would not build a gun, those are dangerous,” Heath said, grabbing the sheet of metal with both hands before it hit the ground, “The king is surrounded by technology anyways, he is the owner of the Genetics Corporation; he would be able to disarm my gun in a second.”

“Good bye, and have a wonderful day!” The guard said as he turned to patrol the streets.
The guard was now a decent distance away from Heath now. Heath looked around, and he noticed that the village looked so beautiful. The houses were surrounded by trees and sleek, green grass that look like a green ocean swaying in the wind that was now starting to pick up. Birds chattered above Heath on top of his house. They were talking about how dumb that guard was, but they made sure he was out of earshot. There was something that Heath did notice, there was one tree that was dying, and an elderly lady was tending to it. Next to the elderly lady was a young girl about 14, and she was helping her grandmother with the plants around their house.

“Phew! That was close,” Heath turned around, and opened the door to his house and entered.
Now that Heath had the sheet of metal out of sight and in his home, he started looking for the plans that he had made for the teleporting machine. He reached into his closet and found a dusty box. Heath pulled out a piece of parchment that read, “Symbolic Transporter.” Then, after reading this, he pulled out a large piece of blue paper that had all of his work on it of the Symbolic Transporter. Heath went into the kitchen where he could lay out the documents and started working on them again. The chair that Heath was sitting in had a creaky leg on the left side to the back of the chair, and when he went to pull the seat up to the table, he jumped and knocked the ink jar that he set down to draw with, all over the design. Heath freaked out and wiped off as much ink as he could from the paper. Heath was devastated that he lost half of his work that took him 1 year to make. There was only one thing that Heath could do; he would have to remake the machine designs. 

Three months later, Heath had an all-new design of the machine that he wanted to make. He named this machine, Shifter. He got the name from one of the legends that he heard of from his grandfather. His grandfather would always tell him about the stories of people who had animals that could take them anywhere that they have been too and anywhere that they know where it is exactly. Heath never really thought of these to be true, but he sure did think they were awesome. So, the first thing that Heath did with the design was take it and get it laminated so he couldn’t spill anything on it. Then, Heath was off to his kitchen to start working on the machine.

Over the years, Heath had gathered enough materials to make his machine, and any chance that he had, he would get metal pieces from places that people had dropped them at, and he would take them into his home. The time came where Heath had to make the final product, and the first attempt seemed to be working, but one thing was wrong. Heath didn’t design something that he could use to make him go back to the present times. As soon as Heath thought of that, he was off to the drawing paper.

This device that Heath was making was a handheld item that had two buttons on it. The two buttons one there were, “Go Home,” and “Back to last port.” He had to make sure that inside of the device was wired so that it could pick up the signal of the last place the person, that went through the teleporter, was.

About four weeks later, Heath had made the device that he could use to go back to the present time. The first test that he did was on a small child that was in the streets. Heath asked the young child if he would like to test out a machine that he made. Naturally the child said yes, and they went to Heath’s house. At first, the child was very hesitant, and didn’t want to go through with this idea, but then Heath told him all of the things that could change if he did go through it, and the child gave in. Heath handed the child the device that would help him get back to the present, and then he motioned for him to go to the large machine in the center of the kitchen, Shifter.

The child told Heath his name right before he entered Shifter, and the child named, Alex, was gone. Heath hoped that Alex would come back through, and hours wasted, Heath didn’t think it was going to happen. Heath gave up on the machine and went to bed. He didn’t go to bed tired though. Heath kept thinking of Shifter, and what happened to Alex, that poor kid risked his life for science. Heath had an idea, and left his bed and headed to the kitchen where Shifter was located. On the way, Heath had to stop and take a look at the picture on the wall that was hanging at an angle. Heath tilted it back to the way it was suppose to be, and moved on.

“I know this works!” Heath yelled in excitement as he reached for the button on the side of the machine, “I made the darn thing, so I know it should work.”

Right as the button was pushed, Alex tumbled onto the floor from the portal that the machine created in its center. Alex didn’t move for the first five minutes, and Heath just stared at him, standing in awe that Alex came back.

“A—Alex? Are you okay? Alex? Can you hear me?” Heath tried for an answer from Alex, “Please speak to me, or move something.”

Alex opened his eyes, and quickly shaded them from the bright lights of the kitchen. “I am okay, nothing changed there, and it was all the same.”

Heath was displeased with the results of his machine, and decided to sell his machine, and the old design of the machine to Genetics Corporation in the center of the continent, or GenCorp. GenCorp took the machine and the designs and stored them away until further investigation of the machine. Its name stayed the same, and it was still known as, Shifter, but the GenCorp modified a few things, and found out a way to use nanotechnology to put the energy of that machine into a chip that could be placed in the brain of a civilian, and allow that civilian to “Shift” to their destination, but it was only useful to the places that they knew of. What Heath didn’t know that GenCorp did, was that there was still something important on the old design that Heath didn’t catch before. The internal design of the machine had the information that GenCorp was able to use to advance in technology. GenCorp started making a new weapon called Rek’sar, a sword that was said to be the most powerful weapon ever created, and they were going to use it to send all of the remaining shifting animals to their graves, where they belong.

Heath settled down, and found a wife that he could spend time with. Heath was now thirty, and had one child; her name was, Shair. Heath had Shair implanted with the nano-chip that allowed her to shift to places that she had seen before so that she would be with the technology times. Shair was only seven years old when she first learned how to shift to a place of her choice. Shair’s parents were very surprised that she would be able to shift at such a young age. Shair was mastering the chip inside of her head so that she could shift to places that she saw in magazines. Soon enough, she was able to do that by the age of eleven.
One day, Shair was with her parents in front of the Genetics Corporation. The massive building was surrounded by many guards, and catapult defenses. Not a single person was allowed to enter the building without identification or being searched. Around the building were plants, and grass that looked just like the grass around Shair’s home. Heath brought Shair her to show the chip designer that she had mastered the ability to shift to places that were in magazines. After admiring the enormous building, the three of them walked into the main office. While waiting in the office, two conspicuous gentlemen walked in, and asked to speak with Shair’s parents. The two men walked down a massive hallway that was filled with dimmed lights, and then they escorted Shair’s parents into a room that was completely white, and only had two lights in the center of it; both of them over a beat up, wooden table with three chairs around its edges. What the two men didn’t know was that Shair had followed them, and was behind the glass watching them. The two men were interrogating her parents.
“…and where did she first go?” asked the man wearing a black suit, with short, spiked hair.
“We don’t know, we weren’t sure of the magazine she was looking at,” Heath said to the man, staring him in the eyes.

“Damn it!” the man pounded his fist on the table, “Why weren’t you watching her at all times? You know that you are supposed to watch a child with the implanted chip at all times!” yelled the man in the black suit.

“She left us for only a few minutes,” Heath’s wife complained.

The other man in the room stepped up, “Fine, we will examine her carefully for where she went; it should be memorized on the chip.” 

After the commotion in the interrogation room, everyone headed back to the office so that Shair could get looked at. Shair was taken through a really long hallway that was filled with bright lights, down to a room that had gadgets all over the place. Shair wondered why she hasn’t seen any of these things around the forests, or the mountains, or in some of the caves around where she lived. In the center of the room was a lounging chair with a very large globe hanging above the chair. This almost looked like a scanner that Shair had seen in one of her magazines that got sent to her every two weeks.

The man that escorted Shair into the room gestured for her to sit in the large chair in the center of the room. “We are going to examine the chip that was implanted inside of you. Please wait here until the lead designer of the chip comes in to take a look at your chip.”
Shair started to feel uncomfortable in the chair as she waited for the designer. It seemed like it has been hours, but Shair looked up and sure enough, there was a clock there to tell the time. Only twenty minutes have passed, and now Shair was getting a little hot. As soon as she thought that it was hot, there was an air conditioner turned on to cool things down for her in the room. Something didn’t seem right now. Shair jumped off of the chair onto the ground; the drop was only six inches, but it seemed like a long drop to Shair.

A distant sound started the second Shair stepped onto the ground, and Shair jumped right back into the chair like nothing happened. As soon as she was in the chair again, the door across the room slid open, and someone in a white lab coat came through. Shair thought that this was probably the designer she was waiting for. It seemed like it was ages before he came in, considering the fact that she was only 13, everything seemed like it took forever.

“Ah, good to see that you are already up in the chair for the examination,” the man in the white coat said, “I am the Chip Designer, just call me Dave.”

Dave brought up some straps from the bottom of the arms of the chair, and wrapped them around Shair’s arms to make sure she doesn’t flail around. After getting those on Shair’s arms, Dave went over to a computer to the left of the chair, and pressed a button that made two metal clamps go over Shair’s legs so that she couldn’t move her legs around.

“Please, please don’t tighten me up like this, I don’t want to get examined while tied up,” Shair pleaded to Dave.

Dave gave Shair a smirk, “Sorry, I have to take precautions so no one gets hurt.”
Shair got really angry, and yelled at Dave to take them off; Dave just smiled at her and continued with the computer. This was Dave’s mistake, now Shair was really angry, and she disappeared.

“She shifted,” Dave stared at the empty chair in awe, “But to where? No one has ever been able to shift out of this area.”

Shair had gotten so angry that she shifted herself into the Nether Dimension (NeD), a place where the shifters pass through to get to their destination. Usually the shifter doesn’t ever see the NeD when they shift because it is so fast, but Shair didn’t have a specific destination, and is now stuck in the NeD in a rift. The Nether Dimension was a very quiet place, but it was scary because of the darkness that seemed to swallow anyone that was inside of it. Shair was now calm inside of the NeD; she didn’t seem to mind the darkness and the numbers whizzing around her. This was much better than being in that room with Dave. Those numbers swirling around Shair were the numbers in the matrix that allowed all of the Shifters to enter and exit the NeD safely.

Shair was stuck in the Nether Dimension for what seemed like days, and then finally, the silence was broken. Something passed by her faster than anything she has ever seen before. As the object passed by her, she got caught in the wind, and flew backwards just as fast as the object. In no time Shair was back into the real world. Shair stood up, and looked around at her surroundings. She noticed something very strange about where she was.

Shair took a moment to take in what she was seeing, and found that what she saw was real. The surroundings were exactly the same as what they were when she went into the Nether Dimension, except that she wasn’t in the white room. The trees were in vast numbers, the lakes and rivers were still there, beautiful as ever. Shair started to wonder off into the forest. The minute she came to an opening in the trees, she saw the small village.

No one was here in the village. Shair looked around the village to see if anyone was there. With no luck at all, she didn’t find anyone there. Shair tried to shift to a place that she remembered, and wasn’t able to go there for some reason. Now Shair was curious of to where she was, and she headed down the path that lay out in front of her. This path seemed to lead into the village and to the forest also. Shair made it to where the path ended, and she saw a bunch of people standing in ranks for what looked like a battle. 

One of the people standing there saw her standing there and approached her. This boy only looked to be fifteen, if not younger. He had dark hair that almost looked blue, blue eyes, and he wasn’t all that tall, maybe a little taller than Shair. Finally, the boy made it over to Shair.
“Aren’t you a little young to be out here?”

Shair looked down at the ground, “You don’t look to old yourself. What is going on here anyways?”

The boy looked behind him, then back at Shair, “We are going into a battle, didn’t you know? What is your name anyways?”

Shair looked over the boys shoulder, then back into his eyes. She felt like she was in a trance inside of his eyes, “My name is Shair, I seemed to be lost.”

“Hello, Shair, I am Zack, one of the Officers of the Shifters,” Zack said gesturing at his people.
“Oh, my!” Shair remembered the story that her father had told her about the Shifters living a long time ago, and the pets that allowed them to do the same thing that she could do on her own. “I see you have a pet, he is cute.”

“Yes, his name is Legend, he helps me shift,” Zack said to Shair, looking at Legend. “Where is your pet?”

“Uh, um, I don’t have one; I have a nano-chip inside of my head that allows me to shift.” Shair said with nothing else to say.

“What is that?” Zack asked in confusion.

Shair thought to herself now, “I must have gone back into time when I got caught by the thing in the Nether Dimension…” Shair looked Zack in the eyes, “You wouldn’t understand this if I told you, but I am from the future. What year is it, would you know?”

“Year 650, this is the time of the war with the Assassins. The Assassins are who we are going into battle with right now.

“Oh, my, I have shifted back in time 1402 years,” Shair said staring at Zack.

“How is this possible? No one could travel time with shifting.”

“I guess it was when I was in the Nether Dimension and something pulled me into your time,” Shair looked over Zack’s shoulder again.

“I must have brought you here then; I just recently shifted through there. I had to make it back to my village before the battle started,” Zack said putting his hand on Shair’s shoulder. “Come, I will take you to safety.”

Zack took Shair to a house that was in the middle of the village, and he told her to not come out until he gets her. Now, Shair was stuck inside of a house with nothing to do; until she found some books. Shair remembered her father telling her that he tried to go back to the past and find out what the past was like, well, now she had the chance as a 13 year old girl.

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Ethically Correct: Making moral decisions


Week 4 Discussion: Ethically Correct
By Joshua Long


What ethical principle(s) do you feel you adhere to and connect with most when making decisions?
I went outside of the basic ethical principles and discovered the three main principles I follow when I make decisions: Integrity, Stewardship, and Respect. By basing my decisions on these three main principles, I find myself making decisions for the better good of not only myself but others around me. By following the principle of Integrity, I am making sure I take into account the being of the person I am involving into my decisions. In following the principle of Stewardship, I make sure that I do everything to help preserve the Earth and my human body given to me by God. Lastly, including the principle of Respect puts the icing on the cake, because I make sure anyone affected by my decision has the right to preserve their own views and morals in the world. To give you an example of how I make my decisions, let’s take the other week into account. We have mold growing in our office and I noticed plenty of people getting sick. Well, I was in charge of getting someone to come take a look at what is going on, so I made sure to schedule someone to come in. Now, I have to sacrifice my time to make sure everyone was out of the office and under a swift recovery to make sure no one dies. We found out the mold is the 3rd most dangerous mold growing in our ceiling, causing everyone to get sick. By taking each person into account and respecting them, I was able to help preserve their bodies and lives for a longer future.
Do you know of anyone – family members, coworker, etc. – that you see following a different set of ethical principles?  How so and which principles do you see them following?
In using a family member with different principles, my sister seems to follow the principle of Autonomy when making decisions. Although she is self-driven herself in some respect, she also fuels the determination and self-drive in others around her. She supports people in any way possible to help them reach their maximum potential. My sister does not perform exactly what it is someone may be reaching for, but she will have her words of support swiftly following up to the moral support she provides. For instance, I am pursuing my dream in Video Game Design. My sister, following the principle of Autonomy, supports my decisions but does not see herself spending countless hours in front of a computer screen to help me reach my goals.
Do you have issues with seeing a different type of approach in terms of ethical decision-making? How so?
There are plenty of other people using different approaches in ethical decision-making where I do not support their views and outlook. I understand there are good and bad people in the world, but I have a problem when I try to follow my principles and someone fights my way of making decisions because I am trying to base my decision on how I can help that person. In having someone go against what I believe is ethically correct, it makes me feel like that person is bad; my principles all bring into account other people by making sure they will be safe when my decision is made. Let me give you a quick example of someone going against me. I decided to take myself away from a friend because he was getting into some heavy problems that I did not want to make myself a part of. When I removed myself from his friendship and told him that I do not approve of his lifestyle for me, he tried to convince me that it was the right way to go. I know that is how he viewed the situation, but I could see past the reality of what he thought; it was tough, but it opened his eyes a little bit. Then, he went right back into making the bad decisions.
References
Health, E. (2012, October 12). Key ethical principles. Retrieved from
http://www.ascensionhealth.org/index.php?option=com_content
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The Awkward Elephant


What was all the talk about society and cultural stuff? Well, let me share with you what I have been working on this past week.

The Budin Culture
by Joshua Long

Introduction

The year is 1238 AD and the country of Thailand is just now sprouting up into existence. One of the founding tribes, known as the Budin (boo-din), migrated into the new land of Thailand. The sacred animal of the Budin, the elephant, forced the Budin tribe to move into the western forests of Thailand. When the Budin finally reached the edge of the western forest, they settled down and made encampment. The elephants aided in building the village and kept the threats away. Slowly, over time, the Budin trained the elephants to aid them in warfare.

Chapter 1: Beliefs

The Budin live and die for the movement of their elephants, because they believe elephants are sacred and dire to their culture. The elephants help with labor-intensive work, fighting, and transportation. The Budin also believe that lying is a crime because of the negative air space it creates around the elephants and makes training difficult.

Chapter 2: Religion

The Budin culture takes on the Buddhist beliefs, where they learn as individuals to think for themselves and not surrender to any other religious authority. The Budin believe that arrogance, superior beliefs, and social status are foolish and lacking in respect to others in the tribe. As part of their culture, the Budin also believe in detachment; holding onto such desires shows weakness in an individual.

Chapter 3: Social Structure

With such a small tribe, the Budin believe in the basics of living are essential in creating serenity within their lives. The women gather food from the crops while the men go out to hunt and protect the women at the outer forest edge. A single person never goes out alone, whether male or female. Children are set to learn the ways of their parents by the age of 12; boys go with the men, girls go with the women.

Chapter 4: Leadership

The leaders, known as Elders, in the tribe settle the disputes and decide punishment for the members of the tribe. Elders become leaders of the tribe through lineage of the oldest son of the oldest son. When the oldest son dies or his mother births a daughter, the leader becomes the lead hunter of the tribe who then hands down his responsibilities to a member of the hunt.

Chapter 5: Military Structure

As a peaceful tribe, the Budin utilize a unique type of military structure.  Instead of searching for people to fight, or taking over other land, the Budin migrate and expand based on the movement of the elephants; they always pick a peaceful location to settle. Although fighting is a rarity, Budin warriors train in a swift martial art based on kicking. Some warriors train using slings and rocks while the others train in hand-to-hand combat.

Chapter 6: Political Views

As we said in the chapter about leadership, the Budin have an Elder-led society. The Elders solve most of the political disputes and executes the solution based on a 2-3 blind vote towards the majority. The political nature of the Budin works well due to their peaceful nature and religious beliefs of detachment. The Elders refuse to discuss the decisions they make among the tribe unless it directly affects them; this keeps internal problems at bay.

Chapter 7: Production

The Budin economy runs off trading of skills and goods. The cultural product of trade within the Budin tribe comes from the elephants when they die. As a sacred animal throughout Thailand, the elephant carries many valuable, tradable, parts when they die. Although humans do not kill their own elephants, they can kill other elephants and take the bones to trade later on. When an elephant dies within the tribe, the Budin start a ritual for the fallen animal and use every part of the body; the tusks get stored with the Elders.

Chapter 8: Consumption

The different consumables in the Budin culture come from the hunting and gather of material goods provided by nature. The women grow rice and vegetables in their fields while the men hunt different wild animals such as boars and snakes. Outside of the food consumables, the Budin imports clothing made by the other tribes in surrounding areas as well as the different jewelry, toys, and crafts.

Chapter 9: Money and Markets

The Budin believe in sharing and putting others before themselves, so a monetary system does not exist within the Budin culture. Instead of a money system, the Budin trade their gathered elephant remains, rice, and meat. Anytime someone within the tribe needs something that the tribe provides, they receive the need for a small working skill trade rather than a consumable.

Chapter 10: Holidays

The most important holiday celebrated by the Budin is the New Year held in April after the dry seasons. While the weather is hot, the celebrations involve everyone throwing water onto one another and sharing plenty of food. At the end of the festival, the sport of Budin Kickboxing takes the center of attention as everyone gathers to watch two of the most skilled Budin Warriors fight to submission.

Conclusion

With holidays in the air and the tribe finally settling down into a normal routine, you finally get a full understanding of how the Budin culture fills the Thailand forests with their tranquil lifestyle. Elephants grow with the culture as they learn how to help build, fight, and entertain the surrounding tribes. Staying a good distance from this passive-aggressive tribe means you could find yourself as their prey.

References

Monaghan, J. & Just, P. (2000). Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. New  
York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Thailand, Y. (2012, July 17). A guide to culture. Retrieved from
http://www.ywamthai.org/office/culture
World, A. (2012, May 06). Thai culture. Retrieved from
http://www.thailandsworld.com/index.cfm?p=382
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Stereotyping Reality: Will it go away?


Have there been any stereotypes you have been bound by, witnessed, or have placed on others?
Stereotyping comes and goes in my life in various ways. While growing up I went through nearly all of the stereotypes with everyone as my friend. I found that each group around me had a label as a jock, nerd, prep, emo, band geeks, and even the troublemakers. I did not enjoy watching people make fun of other groups of people, so I made the effort to go to each group and get to know everyone as individuals. I stepped through each group and became part of their group. I played football, I write software, design graphics, write stories, contemplate life, dress nice, play piano, and get myself into trouble by making rash decisions sometimes. Through the beginnings of my life, I found that a stereotype is just another way to try and make yourself feel better about who you are.
Where did the stereotypes derive from and how did the stereotyping manifest itself? 

All of these stereotypes derive from the social status given to children in school by children in school. Some parents try their best to make their child popular in school so they are not picked on. The children who rebel usually make the troublemaker list, or the emo list. Those kids try to find themselves through expression outside of the normal ways. Instead of individuals being accepted for who they are, their peers label them to the extremes. The basic stereotypes of jock, nerd, prep, and troublemaker all come from one’s role in school. If you play sports all the time, you are a jock; if you are in the books and constantly making good grades, you are a nerd; if you dress nice and turn your nose up at the “low-life” people, you are a prep; if you go around causing trouble and destroying things, you are a troublemaker.
What is the impact of this kind of stereotyping?
Unnoticeable to some, this kind of stereotyping creates the different clicks within a school. Each generation, possibly year, the amount and variation of clicks increases with the growing number of individuals trying to express themselves. We no longer limit the type of person to one of five or so groups; we see them as who they are, for the most part.
What are some of the ways that you envision our society overcoming the inaccurate stereotypes we hold or do you believe that this is impossible to overcome?
Stereotypes will not leave our society. We, as humans, love to categorize things in our lives to make them easier for us to understand. If we can keep a group of people to a said type of personality, then we know how to react when we meet someone who fits that category. Although many people are trying to individualize themselves, we now have the increased stereotypes anywhere from race, to sexuality, to gender, to the kinds of food people eat. Our culture becomes more and more judgmental as time passes, which means stereotypes will have a difficult time finding their way out of our society.
References
Monaghan, J. & Just, P. (2000). Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
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Setting the Cultural Norms


We think of our “normal,” everyday activities with our family are something other families would normally do. We often think other families’ activities are strange when they do something our family would not normally call and activity. Here, we are presented with two completely contrasting statements; it makes us realize how conflicted we are in our day-to-day lives. For instance, my family always opens one present on Christmas Eve. We knew these gifts as family gifts we received before Santa brought the rest of the presents in the morning. “If you want to play football you need to learn enough of the rules and style of playing the game to get along with the other players” (Monaghan, 45). Without following what my family does, I render myself as not part of the family. Using analogies and different examples of family norms fall hand in hand as they make more sense to someone outside of your own family as stated with the first two points made above about families using different activities to define who they are.
Larger families tend to have bigger influences among the culture. The collective nature of a culture comes from the most common practices among the people within the culture, which is why my family does not influence the culture in any way; this means we can do strange things and get away with them. As said before, my family opens one present on the evening before Christmas. However, we do not have a direct effect on how anyone else in our culture might go about opening presents. In comparison to other cultures who do not celebrate the Christmas holiday, the people in our culture look crazy to outsiders. While looking deeper into the Christmas holiday, even families within our culture refuse to celebrate the holiday because it is religion-based. This separation within our own culture defines the very reason we call the United States the Mixing Pot; we have different cultural behaviors scattered throughout the entire nation that make up who we are as a country.
The different cultural norms combine together to create what other countries might see our culture as from the outside. Japan is full of smart and technologically-inclined individuals. Germany is full of mean people and angry dialect. Canada is full of non-aggressive people and everyone puts an extra “a” at the end of their words. Americans eat a lot of food. As you can see here, these statements are the way someone could see an outside country based on the media and events displayed about the country. Although they may not be 100% true, part of them must be in order for the cultural impact to shine through all other triumphs of the culture. Family norms differ from one neighbor to the next. Who knows, the family norms you know as part of your life may become the face of your country one day if your family is really big! 
References
Monaghan, J. & Just, P. (2000). Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short   Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

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