Xbox-exclusive fantasy RPG Avowed is looking very exciting according to WCG’s Jez Corden

Over a year ago, I wrote about the Xbox ecosystem (Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC) becoming the haven for gamers who love fantasy role-playing games. Take note that article was published before the earth-shaking announcement of Xbox-Bethesda which has since been finalized with full integration which was clearly reflected in the successful E3 2021 digital event.

The integration of Bethesda easily made the future much more promising for the Xbox ecosystem to be the definitive haven for gamers who crave for fantasy RPGs as well as sci-fi RPGs (note: Bethesda’s Starfield will launch exclusively on Xbox on November 11, 2022).

Among the many Xbox game studios is Obsidian Entertainment which is an established RPG maker which Team Xbox acquired in 2018. As seen in the 2020 Xbox games showcase, Obsidian has been working on Avowed, a first-person fantasy RPG that is perceived to be comparable with The Elder Scrolls franchise of Bethesda.

Recently, Windows Central Gaming published an article about Avowed authored by Jez Corden and it has a lot of hot and useful details! The details are so great, I am excited and also confident about Avowed as well as Obsidian Entertainment’s full potential getting realized with the heavy funding and creative freedom they have under Team Xbox.

To put things in perspective, posted below are selected excerpts from the WCG article. Some parts in boldface…

Avowed’s fantasy world is set within Obsidian’s very own Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe.

Excerpt 1

Sources familiar with internal plans have reached out to us in recent months offering details on Avowed, moving through pre-production towards a playable alpha state. Indeed, Obsidian is likely close to having a working early version of the game, with many mechanics and core gameplay pillars already implemented. I can’t be sure how old some of the footage I’ve seen is, and there’s a good chance it’s far further along.

For those who don’t know, we’ve only seen Avowed in a pre-rendered CGI trailer thus far. The game is set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, known as the World of Eternity, and utilizes a first-person viewpoint similar to Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds.

The Outer Worlds fans already have plenty of reasons to be excited about Obsidian’s upcoming slate, given that The Outer Worlds 2 has been confirmed. Avowed seems to be based on a similar, albeit enhanced engine from The Outer Worlds, complete with action-oriented first-person combat and deep RPG exploration and narrative systems. We were told Avowed will feature multiple class playstyles and borrow from Skyrim’s two-handed combat system. You could wield two daggers and be a stealthy rogue, or dive into archery with a two-handed bow. You could use a combination of swords and magic, or go full two-handed magic, which is required to wield some of the game’s more potent spells and abilities.

Avowed will feature many elements Pillars of Eternity fans will be familiar with. Wizard spells like Jolting Touch, which can fry enemies with forks of lightning, will be present. Two-handed spells like Fireball are conjured using complex-looking hand gestures, but decimate enemies in a storm of magma and fire. I also saw status effect spells like Fetid Caress, imbuing enemies with corrosive poison. Weapon enchantments seem to be a big feature too, with magically enchanted swords and frozen arrows, as examples. Pillars-style guns may also appear in the game, similar to the muskets and arquebuses found in the original two titles. Familiar creatures such as the lizard-like Xaurips will appear, alongside much larger and deadlier threats, all the way up to wyverns and drakes.

The combat seems to be more loadout-based than The Elder Scrolls, which gives you mountains of spells in a gigantic list. Warriors will get access to more physical attacks like swordplay, powerful kicks, and shield bashes, while casters will be given a range of spellbook options to customize and tailor their combat style, with attacks bound to specific buttons.

Excerpt 2

Imagine what you could discover in a mysterious fantasy location like that once Avowed finally gets released.

If The Outer Worlds was Obsidian’s take on a Fallout-style game, Avowed is undoubtedly Obsidian’s take on The Elder Scrolls. The two-handed, first-person combat style is unmistakable, but there are obvious differences in early documentation.

At least directly compared to the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, Avowed seems to be a far more colorful game, reminding me far more of The Outer Worlds. Luminescent cave mushrooms, verdant forests awash with gigantic flora, and hulking sunlit temples complete with skeleton-infested depths and tombs are plentiful. It came as a bit of a surprise given the game’s original trailer, which seemed like it was trying to strike a much darker tone, save for the neon spell effects.

Pillars of Eternity does seem to take environmental interactivity a bit further than The Outer Worlds too, complete with swimming capabilities. We’ve even heard of destructible environments, using lit torches and fire spells to burn down blocked entryways too. Fire spells leave areas coated in flames too, which cascade against walls and floors.

The content I saw does represent a pre-alpha state with certain aspects like lighting and textures not fully implemented, which is one reason I’m not sharing the documentation I’ve been shown. The finished art style is expected to elevate what we saw in The Outer Worlds, though, with a brighter, more lively color palette, although it could end up looking a bit darker akin to the debut trailer. I only saw a couple of areas, although it could represent the diversity of locale styles Obsidian aims to deliver.

As for the story and layout, I can only speculate. I’m not sure whether it will go full-blown open world like the modern Elder Scrolls games or utilize something more like The Outer Worlds’ hub system, which connects large areas with an overworld map, complete with interior areas and dungeons. I’d expected it to be the latter, as it gives Obsidian greater control over the pacing of the narrative, which is one of the studio’s biggest strengths. There is some evidence that it may go fully open world though, given previous job listings (thanks for the tip, Camonna Tong).

Even in its pre-alpha state, Avowed looks like it plays extremely well, with refined action RPG combat set in a vibrant, medieval fantasy world I cannot wait to explore.

Whew! That was a heavy load of details successfully recorded by Jez Corden! Before I go further, I recommend you follow him at Twitter. I also recommend to you all to read Corden’s full article at https://www.windowscentral.com/details-xbox-exclusive-avowed-obsidian-outer-worlds-meets-medieval-fantasy

As seen in the above excerpts from Corden’s hot article, Avowed is more than just Obsidian’s fantasy RPG inspired by The Elder Scrolls. With a first-person view design set in a fantasy world within the established Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe of Obsidian, the Xbox-exclusive Avowed has elements carried over from the hit sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds (which I loved replaying) and from Pillars of Eternity (which is not surprising). In short, Avowed will have its own flavor and style in terms of game design and creative ideas while still potentially be compared with The Elder Scrolls.

As much as I love The Elder Scrolls RPGs like Oblivion and Skyrim from Bethesda, there were certain shortcomings in those games with regards to storytelling and characterization. Obsidian Entertainment proved itself to be great on telling a story (complete with branching narratives, decision-making and consequences), defining characters for players to interact with and still immerse players deeply with great gameplay and in-depth role-playing. Those very things I mentioned were realized in The Outer Worlds and I am excited to see how Obsidian can replicate those in a fantasy RPG. I should also state that I am looking forward to The Outer Worlds 2 which should be released a few years from now.

As long as the RPG makers can maintain greatness as the production goes on, Avowed can easily become Obsidian’s next gem waiting to be unveiled and it can potentially impact positively the way we gamers enjoy fantasy RPGs. On top of that, it could become the must-have and must-play fantasy RPG experience that can only be availed only on Xbox!

Lastly, read below what Obsidian Entertainment stated on July 2020.

At Obsidian Entertainment, we’re committed to what we’ve been doing for the past 17 years – making incredible worlds for you to play in your way. And with Xbox Game Studios behind us, we can’t wait to bring even more awesome worlds to all of you.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 from October 16 to 31, 2021

Finally, business and residents of Metro Manila will be dealing with lesser restrictions as the national authorities declared that the metropolis will be under Alert Level 3 (previously Alert Level 4 from mid-September to mid-October) from October 16 to October 31, 2021 as reported by Philippine News Agency (PNA). Lesser restrictions should mean more reopening of the economy, more people can attend indoor worship services at churches (note: being vaccinated may be required) and more.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The alert level status in Metro Manila will be downgraded to Alert Level 3 from the current Alert Level 4 beginning Oct. 16, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to ease restrictions in Metro Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, approved the recommendation to place the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3 beginning October 16, 2021 until October 31, 2021,” said Roque, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson.

He said the IATF-EID also approved and adopted the revisions to the Guidelines on the Implementation of Alert Levels System for Covid-19 Response in the Pilot Areas.

A copy of the new guidelines has yet to be made public.

Metro Manila’s shift to Alert Level 3 came amid the drop in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country’s metropolis.

The relaxation of alert level in Metro Manila will pave the way for the reopening of more businesses.

Now watch this related news video from GMA Network…

Staycation in Metro Manila allowed to resume

The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that staycation within Metro Manila will be allowed under Alert Level 3, specifically in accredited hotels. Unsurprisingly there are certain limitations.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

Staycation is now allowed in accredited Metro Manila hotels as the region eases to Alert Level 3 from October 16 until the end of the month, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.

Individuals of all ages may check-in for staycation. However, to ensure safety of all guests, only those 18 years old and above who are fully vaccinated shall be allowed to book their stay,” the DOT said.

Under the amended guidelines, only DOT-accredited staycation hotels with government-issued safety seal certification will be allowed to accommodate staycation guests.

Cinemas in Metro Manila cleared to resume operations

Speaking of the reopening of businesses, cinemas in Metro Manila have been cleared to resume their operations but with a set of limitations. Still, this is indeed a breakthrough because Metro Manila cinemas have been closed (note: use of cinemas as temporary vaccination sites do not count as operations) for a very long time and the nation’s cinema industry had an estimated 300,000 employees. Take note that months ago, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and cinemas were among those businesses. However the mayors of Metro Manila opposed the decision.

To put things in perspective regarding the newest development, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer report. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses may already operate when Metro Manila eases to Alert Level 3 starting Saturday, October 16.

Under the updated guidelines on the pilot implementation of the government’s new COVID-19 alert level system, cinemas and movie houses are allowed to operate under Alert Level 3 at a maximum of 30% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity.

All cinemas and movie house workers and employees should also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as minimum public health standards should be strictly followed.

Personally, I am glad that cinemas have been cleared to reopen within Metro Manila as the metropolis itself is the single largest region where movie theaters are located at and it should add to the economic recovery our nation badly needs. The cinema operators and their employees have suffered way too long! That being said, I urge you to observe how the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will react to the clearance for the reopening of cinemas. Will the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and MMDA oppose the IATF and keep the cinemas shut down again knowing that many of their constituents have been vaccinated over the past several months? We will find out soon enough.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you are a business owner who badly needs customers to avail of services indoors, are the approved standards for Alert Level 3 good enough? If you want to worship the Lord on Sunday during worship services indoors at your local church, were the mentioned changes good enough? What do you plan to do once your local cinema reopens?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #10 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, fans of the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men 2099 comic book series by focusing on the tenth issue which, I assure you, continues more intrigue carried over from the previous issue as well as the further development of the futuristic team of mutants.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #10, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins shortly after the fall of Zhao with Xi’an looking over his inactive body. Xi’an wants Zhao’s body left outdoors for coyotes to feed on but Shakti tells him that the defeated X-Men master is still conscious. The X-Men noticed something very different about Xi’an and to Krystalin, he has an edge to his voice that she never heard before. Victor tells them that their leader was once a ruthless man during their time together as members of the Lawless.

Zhao’s mutants arrived and one of them tells Xi’an that his victory of their master doomed them all…

Quality

Long-time X-Men fans will recognize the Savage Land.

Like the previous issue, the storytelling by John Francis Moore is the strongest factor of this comic book. While issue #9 marked the significant turning point for Xi’an as well as exposing the history of the X-Men between the time of Charles Xavier and Zhao, this story further develops the 2099 mutants’ leader and set up new subplots. I still remember from the first time I read this comic book, I was boggled as to what direction the X-Men of 2099 were heading to.

More on the story, it is very engaging to see Xi’an sliding back to his old violent ways and this creates a large cloud of darkness for the X-Men as he is their leader. Victory Ten Eagles is convincingly written to be believable and lively as Xi’an’s Lawless teammate, and he certainly is not a mere expository dialogue tool. On another aspect of the story, as the cover art showed, Luna makes a return and John Francis Moore excellently developed Skullfire’s personality going further to the point of recklessness and becoming impulsively lost. Skullfire in this comic book has drastically changed from his subdued personality in the early issues. More on the team of mutants, Shakti slowly begins to emerge into a leader figure among her teammates.

When it comes to the art, Ron Lim’s work here is good and he showed consistency when it comes to presenting the look of the future of 2099 far away from the East Coast (where Spider-Man 2099 and others are located at). Lim’s presentation of the power of Skullfire is a must-see!

Conclusion

Xi’an’s portrayal in this comic book is one of the strongest selling points of this comic book.

X-Men 2099 #10 (1994) is a very solid story to read. It successfully showed more of the new direction the X-Men were heading to as Xi’an and Skullfire develop further as solo figures. At the same time, this comic book showed more of Skullfire and Luna getting more involved with each other. The writing by John Francis Moore is so good, the lack of the good-versus-evil conflict does not hurt it at all. The conflict is within Xi’an and Skullfire.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #10 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed edition cost $90 and $60 respectively.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #9 (1994) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Xbox 20th Anniversary products launching on November 15, 2021

This year, the 20th anniversary of Xbox will be celebrated on November 15, 2021 and on that very day, commemorative products will be released for the fans and any gamer looking for new, high-quality products to have this holiday season! For the newcomers and the Xbox fans reading this, this 20th anniversary development is completely different from the Halo Infinite game and products launch set for December.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the recent Xbox.com article written by Xbox Senior Product Marketing Manager Jerrica Tsujikawa. Some parts in boldface…

November 15 will mark 20 years of gaming together! Fans helped shape what Xbox is today and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.

Today, we celebrate our history together with the 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller and 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headsetlaunching November 15 and available for pre-order now. We were inspired by our favorite memories together from the last 20 years and created not one, but two unique accessories to commemorate this milestone.

20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller

Sleek and sentimental – all in one package. The 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller is a fresh spin on the translucent green of the original Xbox Debug kit. The body of the controller features a translucent black finish with silver internals so you can see every detail. The nostalgic, green Xbox button brings us back to the first green Xbox logo. The iconic color can also be found on the back grips and around the hybrid D-pad.

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller benefits from all the features of our newest Xbox Wireless Controllers, such as improved ergonomics, better cross-device connectivity, a dedicated Share button and reduced latency. You can also easily pair and switch between your devices including the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PCs, Android and iOS via Xbox Wireless, and Bluetooth technology.

When you connect this controller to your Xbox Series X|S console, you will unlock an exclusive 20th Anniversary dynamic background.

Connect your 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller to your friends Xbox Series X|S to gift them this dynamic background as well! Once you choose another background, however, this one will disappear, and you will need to re-connect the 20th Anniversary controller to unlock it again.

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Wireless Controller launches November 15 and is available for pre-order today for $69.99 USD in select Xbox markets worldwide and can be purchased at various retailers, including Microsoft Store.

20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset

Built upon our new  Xbox Stereo Headset, this 20th Anniversary Special Edition is something truly special. The headset similarly features a translucent black body with silver internals so you can see what brings this headset to life. Green accents on the boom mic, inside and outside of the earcups. The left disc is marked with our 20th Anniversary logo in our iconic green and the right dial has our Xbox logo imprinted, as seen on the Xbox Wireless and Stereo Headsets.

Just like our new Xbox Stereo Headset, enjoy ultra-soft large earcups and superb audio and chat quality. You can adjust the volume by rotating the right earcup or quickly mute incoming noise with the convenient on-ear control. The headset also supports spatial sound technologies including Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone: X (may require additional purchases or app downloads).

The 20th Anniversary Special Edition Xbox Stereo Headset launches on November 15 and is available for pre-order today for $69.99 USD in select Xbox markets and can be purchased at the Microsoft Store and other retailers. The headset is only available at the Microsoft Store in APOC/EOC.

The above article also includes details about two other upcoming products – the Razer Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition and 20th Anniversary Xbox Gear. Check out the images below…

For complete details about Razer Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition and 20th Anniversary Xbox Gear, click https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2021/10/07/celebrate-20-years-of-play-with-20th-anniversary-hardware/

Things are really looking great and the future of Xbox is more promising than ever before. Xbox fans and gamers who want the best and most enduring sessions of fun have Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite and The Gunk to look forward to before the end of 2021. 2022 will be even more exciting on the Xbox ecosystem with games like Starfield, Redfall, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Saints Row reboot and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising to name some!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: A new attempt to reopen cinemas in Metro Manila under Alert Level system

It has been so long since the cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed and have not screened any new films since the start of the pandemic which negatively affected the local cinema industry’s operators and their employees. 300,000 employees to be precise.

Early this year, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and cinemas were among those businesses. However the mayors of Metro Manila opposed the decision and according to the Manila Times’ news report, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos noted that “movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.” Abalos lamented that there was this fear of a possible spike in COVID-19 infection if cinemas were allowed to reopen. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a memorandum calling for the reopening of cinemas in GCQ (general community quarantine) areas starting March 5, 2021 but the said businesses remain closed.

That was back then and by now, many millions of residents of Metro Manila have been vaccinated for COVID-19, many businesses went through the Safety Seal program and a new system of community control has been implemented. Since the pandemic started, cinemas in Metro Manila were shut down with the exception of some cinemas that were turned into temporary venues for COVID-19 vaccination.

Now there is renewed hope for Metro Manila cinema operators and their employees as the Manila Bulletin reported that the IATF will discuss reopening cinemas under the Alert Level system.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

Malacañang said the government’s pandemic task force is set to discuss the possible reopening of cinemas in areas under the Alert Level 3, part of the new system being implemented in Metro Manila response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) appealed to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow the limited operations of cinemas under the Alert Level 4.

In his press briefing on Thursday, October 7, Roque said that the IATF will discuss the reopening of cinemas but not in areas under Alert Level 4.

“Ang alam ko po nasa agenda ‘yan mamaya ng IATF pero ang pagbubuaks po na pag-uusapan po ay Level 3, hindi Level 4 (I know it’s part of the agenda of the IATF later but the reopening that will be discussed will be in Alert Level 3, not Level 4),” he said.

Under the current guidelines for the pilot implementation of the Alert Levels System for COVID-19 response in Metro Manila, cinemas will be allowed to operate at a maximum of 50 percent venue capacity under Alert Level 2.

In February this year, the IATF allowed the reopening of traditional cinemas in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) but Metro Manila mayors opposed this decision in fear that it may trigger superspreader events.

In a Facebook post, the CEAP appealed to the IATF to allow the reopening of cinemas, ensuring that the industry values the health and well-being of its employees and moviegoers.

According to CEAP, the cinema industry has ensured that all employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The group likewise said that a number of cinemas have been awarded the Safety Seal Certification by their local government units (LGUs) which affirms that they are compliant with the minimum health standards set by the government.

The Manila Bulletin report ended mentioning that theater managers have gone through occupational safety and health training.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you believe it is high time for cinemas in Metro Manila to reopen now that many millions of people in the metropolis have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and a lot of businesses have made efforts to meet the requirements of health protocols (and the Safety Seal program)? Do you believe that the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council (MMC) actually care about the state of the 300,000 employees of the nation’s cinema industry? Do you think Abalos and the Metro Manila mayors will still make decisions out of fear as far as movie theaters are concerned?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Dolby Vision on Xbox Series consoles makes home entertainment more pleasing

In my previous article, I made a short reference to the availability of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. For the newcomers and games still wondering what Dolby Vision’s relevance with the modern Xbox consoles is all about and how it can benefit gamers who have the means, we can take a close look at the details through the September 28, 2021 article published on Xbox.com.

Before examining the said article, let’s start first with a view of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and X via this official video released on September 23, 2021.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by XGP Senior Program Manager Katie Slattery. Some parts in boldface…

At Xbox, we want to give gamers the best gaming experience at full audio and visual fidelity. That is why we partnered with Dolby to bring immersive spatial audio to our platform with Dolby Atmos in 2017, and ultra-vivid picture quality for movies and streaming with Dolby Vision in 2018. Then in 2020 with Xbox Series X|S, we launched the first consoles ever to support gaming in Dolby Atmos and with the future capability to support Dolby Vision.

Dolby Vision gaming now available on Series XIS

Starting today, gamers with compatible Dolby Vision-enabled TVs will be able to enjoy full-spectrum visuals with the rollout of Dolby Vision gaming on Xbox Series X|S. With Dolby Vision, epic worlds – such as lush rainforests or neon futuristic cities – are brought to life in more vivid color. Dolby Vision deepens your immersion into the experience by enabling you to see an enemy hiding in the shadows or spot hidden clues through expanded contrast and better clarity in both bright and dark scenes.

To ensure a growing library of games are available, Dolby and Xbox are working together closely with developers to provide the tools they need so their titles can take full advantage of Dolby Vision. They can do this through built-in features within the Xbox platform or they can choose to implement the technology directly into a game’s engine.

There are more than 100 next-gen HDR titles optimized for Series X|S that will feature Dolby Vision, and in the future you’ll see more games like Halo Infinite taking full advantage of Dolby Vision.

Get the complete Dolby experience with Dolby Atmos by downloading Dolby Access today. Pair with Xbox headphones for the ultimate spatial sound experience.

Xbox Series XIS will deliver improved visual experience to thousands of classic games

In addition to this curated set of Xbox Series X|S optimized titles, we also wanted to ensure the robust library of games previously released in HDR or Auto HDR would benefit as well. This led us to work with Dolby to bring new visual enhancement capabilities that utilize Dolby Vision technology to deliver an improved visual experience for thousands of existing HDR10 and Auto HDR games. When you are connected to a Dolby Vision enabled TV and Dolby Vision is enabled on Xbox Series X|S, the consoles will automatically enhance your existing games to deliver a rich, immersive experience unrivaled by any other game console.

How Series XIS and Dolby Vision make your gaming experience better

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV*.

The article also has other notable details such as the confirmation that Microsoft and Dolby are collaborating closely with the companies that manufacture HDTVs/smart TVs and enable them to update the firmware to enable Dolby Vision at 120 Hz. That being said, if you own an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X connected to that high-tech HDTV or smart TV in your household, you might want to check right now if it is indeed a Dolby Vision-enabled machine. There will be some adjustments to be made with the settings of your HDTV and you can see how at the very end of the Xbox.com article at https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2021/09/28/dolby-vision-gaming-now-available-on-xbox-series-x-s/

More on this technological breakthrough, I love the fact that it has been confirmed that thousands of classic games (games from previous Xbox console generations) will have visual enhancements covered by Dolby Vision. In short, when you play an old game on your Xbox Series console via the backward compatibility feature, there will be visual improvements as well as a better use of your TV’s Dolby Vision capability. With regards to the games of this current console generation, there are over a hundred HDR (high dynamic range) games optimized for the Xbox Series consoles using Dolby Vision benefits. Such enhancements and benefits will be present in future games like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, the next Forza Motorsport, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, Perfect Dark and a whole lot more!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #9 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, fans of the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men 2099 comic book series by focusing on its ninth issue. Since issue #1, the connection between the mutants of 2099 with the original team founded by Charles Xavier was vague. Sure, Xi’an made verbal references to Charles Xavier and Magneto but there was nothing concrete with regards to his team adapting the team name of the classic X-Men.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #9 (1994), published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins shortly after the X-Men left the town. Without Eddie/Metalhead (who chose to be left behind), Xi’an and his team arrive at a facility in the middle of nowhere. It turns out, they have been following the coordinates in relation to Krystalin’s assignment to investigate and Xi’an determined there was something odd about her voice during their last communication.

Krystalin suddenly appears to her teammates with Victor Ten Eagles right behind her. Victor was a companion of Xi’an’s during their days together with the group referred to as the Lawless. While the two former Lawless members talk, Skullfire, Shakti and Meanstreak notice there is something very odd with Krystalin. Xi’an notices something is definitely wrong and he remembers that when the Lawless disbanded, he and Ten Eagle never parted on friendly terms.

Suddenly, a very old Asian man appears in front of them floating in the air. He reveals his name as Zhao and he refers to them as his X-Men…

Quality

X-Men 2099’s leader Xi’an in trouble. This page reveals some threads from his past and the concept that Saigon in Vietnam hosted the 2016 Olympics.

Starting with the storytelling, the script was clearly written with a lot of confidence on the part of John Francis Moore as he expands further the lore of America of 2099 through the team of mutants. For one thing, it uses its own version of Marvel Comics universe history (note: one possible history since 2099 was one possible future of the Marvel universe) to establish the link between Charles Xavier’s original X-Men with the mutants of 2099 complete with what happened in between. While I won’t spoil what exactly happened, I can assure all of you reading this that something very intriguing happened and Zhao is not just a mere 2099 character. I also liked the concept about the sad state of mutants in the far future and why extremists emerge claiming to be their hope and tell them to join the movement without hesitation. The pacing of the story was smooth and there was sufficient build-up with the X-Men history that led to a nice payoff when the big revelation was made.

As the art on the cover symbolizes, there is something really wrong with the X-Men 2099 leader. In the previous issues, there were signs of Xi’an getting haunted by his past with the Lawless and this comic book marks a significant change in his portrayal. He also tried to be strong as team leader even though he kept some really undesirable secrets away from them. All of that build-up paid off well here. Clearly, this was one of John Francis Moore’s strongest scripts on the X-Men of 2099.

When it comes to spectacle, there is some superhero action here visualized in both the present-day story and the historical flashbacks. Artist Ron Lim paced the flow of the images properly and was creative with the way he framed what happened.

Conclusion

The X-Men and Zhao.

X-Men 2099 #9 (1994) has a great story concept which successfully and clearly establishes the connection between the original X-Men of Xavier with Xi’an’s X-Men. At the same time, this comic book starts a new chapter in the life of the 2099 mutants’ leader whose dark and painful past keeps disturbing him deeply. At the time of its release, the X-Men of far future were portrayed to be nomadic trying to survive and search for other mutants. This makes them distinct from the mainstream X-Men of the time and ironically they become similar with Freex of the Ultraverse.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #9 (1994) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Team Xbox’s presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2021

Recently I saw via GameSpot’s YouTube channel the Tokyo Game Show 2021 livestream presentation of Team Xbox which lasted about an hour. To say the least, it was indeed a big improvement over what Xbox presented during the 2020 edition of the TGS. There were no major announcements comparable with what were revealed during the last E3 but Team Xbox and its partners in Japan showed there were exciting things for gamers to look forward to.

From Team Xbox.

For one thing, Xbox Cloud Gaming launched in Japan as well in several other places around the world bringing together a massive community of gamers through the Xbox platforms (consoles, PC and mobile devices) who in turn will be able to play over a hundred games through the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) paid subscription service. Team Xbox is focused on reaching over a billion people in 26 countries across five continents and Japan itself is indeed essential not only as a market but also the place where several small and independent game creators have listed through the ID@Xbox program which itself has two hundred Japanese indie games. Xbox Game Pass itself has over a hundred Japanese titles and Bandai Namco’s SCARLET NEXUS is the newest addition to the service.

This video by Dealer Gaming has excerpts from the livestream.
A finely made Japanese visual emphasis on Xbox Cloud Gaming and more. Play anywhere!
The newest Japanese addition to XGP!

As expected, Forza Horizon 5 was part of the TGS Xbox livestream and it would be interesting to see how the game, along with the Xbox Series consoles, will perform commercially and critically among the gamers in Japan this December. Don’t forget Japan’s video game legacy of producing many racing games. What surprised me was the inclusion of the upcoming Xbox-exclusive, Arkane-developed game Redfall which is set for a 2022 release. Check out the Xbox Japan YouTube videos below…

More on Japan-made games, the long-running King of Fighter series is back with a new installment coming to Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 on February 2022…The King of Fighters XV (stylized as KOF XV) and below is the trailer. You can also order the game now.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from Rabbit & Bear Studios also made an appearance during the livestream. Some gameplay footage was shown from the upcoming action RPG which you can see below…

Bethesda’s Todd Howard presented the upcoming Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield which will not only be released globally on November 11, 2022, it will be fully localized for the Japanese. Pay close attention in the next video…

The Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield!

Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who delivered his opening remarks and reaffirmed their commitment on Japan, its gamers, game creators and business partners, had a nice on-screen talk with the legendary game creator Shinji Mikami (famous for the Resident Evil game franchise) who is the founder and one of the top officials of Japan-based Tango Gameworks. Watch the video below…

The head of Xbox and the legendary Shinji Mikami.

Overall, the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream was fun, surprising and exciting even though there were no major game announcements. I should say I find it baffling that no firm release date for CrossFireX was revealed even though it was announced before that the game will come out on Xbox this year. Apart from the Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming announcements and the emphasis on a global audience through Xbox platforms, a lot of games were shown and the independently made video games made by Japanese and Korean creators like Craftopia, The Good Life, RPG Time, Mighty Goose, Lapin, Unsouled and Eternal Return had their own moments of showcase during the livestream. To say that Xbox has no games is a blatant lie and the current leadership of Team Xbox is totally different compared to what was during the unfortunate Xbox One era.

Japan is the fastest growing market for Team Xbox in the world. The growth of Japanese gaming market as claimed by Spencer is indeed real even though the PlayStation-biased members of the media consistently ignore it. Apart from realizing the Japanese growth, Team Xbox is committed to help bring those games around the world for gamers to enjoy. For the full recap of the livestream, click here.

Spencer and his team have been working hard with global gaming in mind. Just before they started their TGS 2021 livestream, they announced that Dolby Vision Gaming has been made available on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

For the newcomers reading this read the excerpt below…

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV.

On the Xbox platform, an updated version of the Edge browser was released and it is capable of playing Stadia games and even access Discord. The said browser is unsurprisingly available on Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles. With regards to the ongoing supply problem, Phil Spencer confirmed that getting a new Xbox console will still be challenging going into 2022. How much components Team Xbox and its console manufacturers can receive from the suppliers right now is a mystery but there certainly is an ongoing chip shortage that not only affect game consoles but all other devices and even cars. Finally, Team Xbox hired Crystal Dynamics as a co-production partner with their own studio The Initiative to make the Perfect Dark reboot.

With the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream over, the excitement for gaming will truly begin within this fourth quarter. November will see the release of Forza Horizon 5 while December will not only have the highly anticipated exclusive Halo Infinite but also The Gunk (another exclusive game) and the flashy space shooter Chorus.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-ray coming out on December 7, 2021

Welcome back, fellow geeks, movie buffs and fellow Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray collectors!

For those of you who love The Karate Kid trilogy of movies (1984-1989) as well as the acclaimed sequel Cobra Kai, mark your calendars for December 7, 2021 as The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-rayset will be released on that very day! You can order it online right now!

[Blu-ray cover]

The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-ray set comes with six discs as each movie has a 4K Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray disc (for 1080p viewing). As seen above, the box really has nicely made artwork showing the trilogy characters and the 1980s vibe. Unsurprisingly, Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita are featured on the front as the iconic duo of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.

Posted below are key details of The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-ray from its Blu-ray.com page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles

English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Six-disc set (6 BD)

Digital

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

As stated in the Blu-ray.com announcement, the first two Karate Kid movies were previously restored in 4K from the original camera negative while the third movie comes with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. As of this writing, however, there is no clear indication if each movie will have native 4K visuals.

The first movie is a true classic in my honest view. As it was directed by the same man responsible for the first Rocky movie, The Karate Kid shares certain elements with it but still it went on to establish its own legacy adding variety to the teen culture movies released by Hollywood in the 1980s and helped made martial arts become a cultural phenomenon again in that same decade. As the 1984 movie proved to be successfully critically, commercially and culturally, it went on to spawn sequels in 1986 (story set mostly in Japan) and 1989 (set again in California and an attempt to make the trilogy go full circle creatiely). Beyond the film format, an animated series was made as well as a computer game and a video game. Come December 7, The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-ray will resonate with Blu-ray collectors who grew up with The Karate Kid movies.

In ending this piece, posted below are Karate Kid-related videos for your enjoyment.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-rayThe Suicide Squad, Super Dimension Century Orguss Blu-ray, Unbreakable 4K Blu-ray, Injustice 4K Blu-ray, The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray, Terminator 2: Judgment Day 30th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 4K Blu-ray,  Mad Max Anthology 4K Blu-ray and Night Shift Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

Crystal Dynamics partners with The Initiative on developing Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot

There sure was a lot of buzz that rocked the Xbox gamers community. This was about the breaking and very surprising news that the Square Enix-owned game developer Crystal Dynamics (best known for the Tomb Raider trilogy of 2013-2018) has joined Xbox game studio The Initiative as a partner on the development of the Perfect Dark reboot being made exclusively for Xbox platforms.

The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics are co-producing Perfect Dark.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from PureXbox.com’s article. Some parts in boldface…

Here’s some breaking news – The Initiative has announced it will be partnering with Crystal Dynamics to help it bring the new Perfect Dark game to the next generation.

Crystal Dynamics is best known for series such as Tomb Raider and was also behind the Square Enix project Marvel’s Avengers. In a follow-up tweet, The Initiative noted how the game was still “early in development”.

Although Crystal Dynamics has a lot of history with third-person action titles, it’s worth noting how this new entry in the Perfect Dark series is still being referred to as a “first-person” spy thriller.

Eurogamer has also pointed out how The Initiative was originally founded by the former Crystal Dynamics boss Darrel Gallagher, and how Tomb Raider reboot director Daniel Neuburger is also part of the Perfect Dark team.

Posted below are the tweets from The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics…

Read closely.

Furthermore, Xbox chief Phil Spencer stated on Twitter: Great to see continued momentum and progress on PD. Thrilled to have Crystal Dynamics partnering with The Initiative.

While it is indeed surprising that another game developer, not owned by Team Xbox, would come in to assist in the production of the upcoming Perfect Dark, it still makes sense not just because The Initiative’s Gallagher and Neuberger used to work for Crystal Dynamics, but also because the ambitious Xbox game studio (formed in 2018) was meant to be small and agile (additional reference here) and be able to work with partners on the production side of things of projects. The Initiative clearly does not have the workforce of 100 to 200 people it needs to make Perfect Dark and that is exactly where the Square Enix-controlled game developer comes in.

Remember Lost Odyssey, the very memorable Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) exclusive on Xbox 360? A lot of gamers remember Mistwalker as the developer of that game in relation to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s (AKA Final Fantasy creator) involvement and studio leadership, and yet the other team involved – Feelplus – is often overlooked. The other Xbox 360-exclusive JRPG Blue Dragon had Mistwalker and Artoon as co-developers. Artoon did much of the software development work.

Going back to Perfect Dark, I speculate that The Initiative will be more focused on the game’s overall design, the planned gaming concept and supervision with Crystal Dynamics doing the software development and other technical aspects of production.  The most recent Crystal Dynamics-developed games I played were the first two games of the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy…the 2013 game on Xbox 360 and the first sequel on Xbox One. I also played Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One but that game was mainly developed by Eidos-Montréal. I should state that I had the most fun playing the Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics even though Shadow of the Tomb Raider had new gameplay features.

While Marvel’s Avengers clearly received a mixed reception from video game review writers and even cost Square Enix a bundle of money, there is still no reason to worry about Crystal Dynamics negatively affecting the development of Perfect Dark. On the contrary, Team Xbox granted its game studios a lot of creative freedom along with continuous funding which I believe will benefit both Crystal Dynamics and The Initiative on making the Xbox-exclusive reboot. The internal attitudes and atmosphere of producing Perfect Dark will be totally different from that of Marvel’s Avengers. I would not be surprised to see Crystal Dynamics learn from their shortcomings during the making of the superhero video game with Square Enix. It should be noted that Gallagher’s history of work and management with Crystal Dynamics will ensure a bond of trust between the Tomb Raider developer and The Initiative. Trust between the collaborators is essential to ensure production will progress and be completed on time. The speculation that Perfect Dark’s production is in trouble (leading to Crystal Dynamics’ involvement) is just nonsense!

With The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics now co-producing the return of Joanna Dark, we can only wait until the next big update of the game gets released. Perhaps at E3 of 2022?

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com