Pentiment is coming to Xbox platforms and Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP) and PC Game Pass this November

In my pre-event article of the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, I mentioned RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment (an Xbox game studio) and their two upcoming games that I hoped would be showcases somehow in the June 12, 2022 event – the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2.

While those two mentioned games did not appear in the showcase, Obsidian announced two new games that will be hitting the Xbox ecosystem this year – the full version of Grounded (already a hit in its pre-release form) and the brand-new game Pentiment (a narrative adventure).

In this post, we will take a close look at Pentiment which I must admit I was surprised as I did not anticipate to see another project from Obsidian whose works in The Outer Worlds and Fallout: New Vegas I enjoyed. To begin with, watch this official announcement video of Pentiment.

To learn more about this newest upcoming game from Obsidian, posted below is an excerpt from the official article published at Xbox.com. Some parts in boldface…

Today, we have the pleasure of introducing the world to Pentiment, a 16th-century narrative adventure game directed by Studio Design Director Josh Sawyer. As you will see, this game is brought to life by a talented team who were inspired by illuminated manuscripts, woodcut prints, and history itself.

In Pentiment, you play Andreas Maler, a journeyman artist working in the bygone scriptorium of Kiersau Abbey during a time of great social unrest. While finishing his masterpiece, Andreas inadvertently becomes entangled in a series of murders that take place over 25 years. Peasants, thieves, craftsmen, monks, nuns, nobles, and even saints must be investigated and interrogated to expose the truth.

You get to shape Andreas’ background and characteristics which should affect the narrative.

It will be up to players to decide Andreas’ choices, from his educational background and lifestyle to how he investigates the murders. One day he may be digging up a dead monk in the abbey cemetery, the next might be spent eavesdropping on peasant gossip at the ladies’ spinning bee. Every decision and accusation he makes carries consequences that will impact the tightly-knit Alpine community for generations to come.

We are very excited to share this unique interpretation of life in 16th-century Germany, and we can’t wait to release more information with you about Pentiment leading up to its launch this November.

The above article ended stating that Pentiment, which is an Xbox-exclusive game, will be released specifically for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and also through Xbox Game Pass (XGP), Steam and PC Game Pass sometime on November 2022 with a declared price of $19.99. Team Xbox and Obsidian have yet to announce a final release date as of this writing.

A scene from Pentiment.

Having seen the video during the recent Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase, Pentiment looks really inspired and the artistic style looks nice. I find the player decision mechanism very appealing as it reminds me of my experience reading Choose Your Own Adventure pocket books in which readers must make decisions to move the narrative forward and also impact somewhat key aspects of the protagonist.

Pentiment clearly looks back at a certain part of history and has religious and cultural visual elements included. I don’t know what Josh Sawyer and his team think about religion nor European culture, but if you have read my past faith articles, you should be aware that religion and faith are not one and certainly not the same. I should also state that culture itself is a hindrance for any person who desires to establish faith in the Lord and have a personal relationship with Him.

Going back to the game, the November 2022 release of Pentiment and the September 2022 release of the full version of Grounded somewhat soften the lack of high-profile Xbox-exclusive games in the final four months of 2022. I was hoping to play Starfield and Forza Motorsport (2023) on my Xbox Series X console via Xbox Game Pass before the year ends but those games will be released sometime next year. That being said, Obsidian Entertainment has Xbox-exclusives set for release a few months from now.

If you are an avid Xbox gamer who seeks new exclusive games this year or if you are the type of gamer who wants to play something new and fun, pay close attention to Pentiment and the other Obsidian game.

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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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Forza Motorsport (2023) coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

This year’s edition of the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase has passed and I can say it was a truly loaded showcase of games – both exclusives and multiplatform ones – that will be released over the next 12 months. Among the highlights of the June 12 event were the showcases of Bethesda’s epic RPG Starfield and Turn 10’s new Forza Motorsport game plus the Xbox project involving Hideo Kojima and his company and the Persona game series coming to Xbox platforms!

Official gameplay image of Forza Motorsport (2023) from Team Xbox and Turn 10.

In my pre-event article, I anticipated the official revealing of the next edition of the acclaimed Forza Motorsport game franchise handled by Turn 10. Indeed, the new game was showcased at the event with Turn 10 executives who led the presentation (with a demo) and a separate trailer of it was released along with a Spring 2023 release period for the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP) As the new game is a reboot and it shares the same name as the very first game released way back in 2005 on the original Xbox, I personally refer to it as Forza Motorsport (2023) to avoid confusion.

To learn more about Forza Motorsport (2023) and its features, watch the two videos from the showcase below…

Team Xbox and Turn 10 went the extra mile by publishing key details and features as to why Forza Motorsport (2023) is the most technically advanced racing game ever made. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article. Some parts in boldface…

Forza Motorsport has been built from the ground up to showcase the Xbox Series X|S consoles. The accuracy of our overhauled physics, the beauty of our cars and tracks, our new dynamic time of day, advanced car damage, and real time ray tracing on track lead to a generational leap in immersion. The all-new Forza Motorsport is the most technically advanced racing game ever made.

Fundamental to Forza Motorsport is our fully dynamic time of day system, which brings tracks to life in stunning detail and like weather, it will be available on every track. Changes in time of day alter ambient temperatures, which, in turn, impacts the track surface temperatures. These track temperature changes will affect the grip of your car, as does rubbering in and weather. These new simulation details add further depth, drama, and dynamics to the racing experience.

A small example of ray tracing implemented in Forza Motorsport (2023).

We’ve completely overhauled the core driving experience to take advantage of the power of the Xbox Series consoles. This includes a 48 times improvement in the fidelity of our physics simulation. Based on your feedback, we’ve introduced new features like tire and fuel management, multiple tire compounds, and new in-depth car building to create the ultimate racing playset. This is all brought to life at the trackside pits, where advanced materials and shaders paired with ray tracing bring out incredible detail in the gold heat wrap, anodized aluminum, and carbon fiber. Ray tracing especially shines on engine bays with their complex self-reflection.

Much more detailed car damage plus interaction with the external elements such as in-game dirt, water droplets, movement and more.

In Forza Motorsport, car damage is reproduced down to the individual scratches on the bodywork. There are all-new simulation details in the directionality of damage, how the paint peels away at exposed and raised edges, in the wheel abrasions, and in the dirt build-up. Car damage is a racing reality and has been authentically captured in the new Forza Motorsport.

There is no doubt about it. Team Xbox and Turn 10 are not only making the grand return of the Forza Motorsport game franchise (note: last game was released in 2017) with Forza Motorsport (2023), they are aiming high on delivering the most ambitious and most engaging racing experience. Very clearly, Turn 10 had been working hard to improve the simulation racing experience for those who will play their next game on Xbox Series consoles or on PC, and they are doing it with both long-time Forza Motorsport fans and casual gamers in mind. With the heavy revamping and reforming done on game design, Turn 10 really went all-out and went way beyond just raising the polygons and raising the resolution to earn the next-generation label.

The implementation ray tracing (defined as a rendering method that simulates light reflections, refractions and shadows. It follows a light path from a specific source and computes each pixel in the image to simulate the effect of the light.) looks great but I still wonder if Turn 10 will still be able to make Forza Motorsport (2023) gameplay run in full native 4K resolution (3840×2160) while maintaining a consistent 60 frames-per-second rate with ray tracing turn on at the same time on Xbox Series X (note: I own the console). Ray tracing is indeed a very taxing visual effect and it has been limited only to Forzavista mode in the acclaimed Forza Horizon 5. If Turn 10 can ensure gameplay with ray tracing, 4K resolution and 60FPS altogether in Forza Motorsport (2023) without any technical compromises, I would really love that!

Forza Motorsport (2023) is a true next-generation game coming out next year only on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

More on the game, I am looking forward to its revamped cay physics, the improved car damage, the dynamic time of day system, improved dynamic weather, and Turn 10’s next-generation approach on the crafting of the race tracks and experience how all of those will impact the gameplay experience on my end. That being said, Forza Motorsport (2023) is the one simulation racing game to watch out for next year exclusively on the Xbox ecosystem.

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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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Two Point Campus’ release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC via Game Pass delayed to August 9, 2022

If you have been anticipating for SEGA’s Two Point Campus to be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass (XGP), you will have to wait more as the game’s release has officially been delayed to August 9, 2022, as announced via Xbox.com. The game was previously scheduled for May 17, 2022.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt of the Xbox.com announcement written by SEGA Europe Junior PR Manager Joseph Knoop. Some parts in boldface…

Watch out for Two Point Campus on Xbox consoles and Windows PC via Xbox Game Pass this August.

Like a freshman dreading their 8 a.m. class, Two Point Campus needs just a little more time. Two Point Campus’ release date has been pushed back from May 17 to August 9. As always, we appreciate the patience of our wonderful community and all your support throughout development.

In better news, you can check out the first hands-on media impressions of Two Point Campus at some of your favorite gaming outlets today. We’re excited to hear what everyone thinks of the game thus far and what you’re anticipating most. While the decision has been made to delay the release of Two Point Campus by a few months, the vision for the game has remained the same.

Two Point Campus lets you build the university of your dreams (or nightmares, we don’t judge), shepherd students from freshman year to graduation, and let them run wild with outlandish classes like Knight School, fossil-digging archaeology, or even baking giant pizzas in Gastronomy and much more. In Two Point Hospital, players couldn’t spend much time with patients, considering they either healed up and went on their merry way or, you know, died. Two Point Campus lets you really dig into each student’s life, and guide them on their social and academic journey. You can offer them a wealth of life-enriching experiences, be it clubs, social events, or more Cheesy Gubbins vending machines.

You’ll do it all on a campus designed by your very own hand, down to the very last desk and tree, offering way more customization than ever before. Maybe you’ll build a jousting arena for your gallant Knight School students and a tower to practice dragon-slaying from – or maybe you want something a little more cutting edge, and your campus will be a haven for budding mad scientists and building giant robots.

If that all sounds like a good time to you, you can pre-order Two Point Campus now and get some exclusive in-game items for both Two Point Campus and Two Point Hospital.

To order Two Point Campus online, click here. For the Two Point Collection Early Adopter Bonus, click here.

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

My five hours with the free trial version of Cyberpunk 2077 on my Xbox Series X

Before I begin, I want to make clear to all of you reading this that I never got to play Cyberpunk 2077 on any platform when it was first launched in late-2020. Like anyone else, I waited years for that game and I was excited too but Cyberpunk 2077 was released just a few weeks after Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launched. At that very time in December 2020, I was focused on raising funds for Xbox Series X than buying new games for my console at the time – the Xbox One (which stopped functioning in mid-2021 after 6 years of use). I can also say that the exposure of Cyberpunk 2077’s very flawed state on consoles plus the criticism that followed convinced me to stay away from CD Projekt Red’s promised epic video game.

Very recently, CD Projekt Red not only polished Cyberpunk 2077 with Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 in mind, they also released a free 5-hour trial version (with patch 1.5) which I decided to download and play to really experience the game for the first time ever. This post I’m writing is clearly not a game review but my own observation about what Cyberpunk 2077 offered and what I experienced in the five hours I played.

I was in the second half of my 5-hour playtime with the free trial version of Cyberpunk 2077 when I reached this place.

After downloading it, I got to play the free trial version on my Xbox Series X with the performance mode chosen as I wanted to play the game with the best frame-rate possible. I customized V in female form and chose Streetkid as her lifepath as I was eager to discover Night City.

While I knew five hours was rather limiting to make tremendous story progress or discover much of the city, I still went on with the main storyline of V, discovered the key characters, and went through the tutorials to learn the basics of combat (both guns and melee weapons), stealth, hacking and, late in my limited playtime, the braindance (note: you get to experience life through another person’s own views and experiences in first-person view and externally).

The shooting in this game still lacks precision and accuracy when compared to what The Outer Worlds and Fallout 4 have.

On combat, I find the shooting rather lacking in precision in terms of aiming and controller response when compared to what I’ve played in first-person role-playing games (RPGs) The Outer Worlds and Fallout 4. In fairness, the impact of shots fired against enemies in Cyberpunk 2077 is rather strong, especially when you use powerful weapons like the shotgun. The melee combat meanwhile can be challenging to pull off precisely. Even with the immersive first-person view, I had a bit of trouble estimating if my character’s fists or weapon would be able to reach the opposition figure. I also had similar results with regards to blocking the opposition’s melee attacks on my character. Ultimately, I managed to overcome the opposition to complete the tutorial. Stealth gameplay is challenging as well not only because it was difficult to estimate the farthest reach of the view of the opposing character or security cameras/drones, but also because I found moving around lacking precision.

Now that’s an eye-catching in-game reference to the Philippines and the Filipino people.
There is nothing like facing a highly detailed character nearest to you at the bar.

The hacking system of the game is well-designed and easily outclasses that of Ubisoft’s hacking-oriented open-world games Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2. Hacking in Cyberpunk 2077 is not only more user-friendly but also comes with options that make sense within the game’s concept and the many different digital set-ups in each different location I have been to. Since I was limited by the 5 hours allowed in the trial version, I got to use the hacking system as far as I could and I saw how more options become available once I got to level up V’s character level, attributes and tech capabilities. I was enjoying the in-game hacking by the time my trial ended.

Braindance is like a video record of events experienced by other people in which players will get to review, move forward or backward, and be able to spot/scan new details in order to progress. While it is very immersive to see and experience happenings through the eyes and memory of another character, the video editing aspect of braindance is where the detective work really happens which I enjoyed. This part of the gameplay really pushed me to be observant with the moments and details to progress.

When it comes to exploration in Cyberpunk 2077, I can clearly say that moving down the many sidewalks, streets and varied spots of Night City is really intense and immersive to play. For one thing, the first-person view itself is immersive visually and the immersion got enhanced a lot more with the very clever sound editing (all those cars moving around, the people and their steps, the sound of products coming out from vending machines, the sound of the street barbeque being cooked, the voices of people talking and more) as well as the high number of civilians around me doing their own things. As I never got to play this game in its debut version of late-2020, I could not tell if the in-city exploration was this dense and lively. What I can say is that exploring Night City on foot, going through the alleys, entering establishment that are open and observing the people around is a very engaging gaming experience for me.    

Depending on timing and location, the number of pedestrians you walk with in Night City can range from a few to several people, including kids.
You will witness non-playable characters (NPCs) move around, talk and even purchase goods at vending machines.
Like in real life, you walk across the street only when the green light is on for pedestrians. You can have V do jaywalking but that is risky as there are a lot of cars that move along the roads in real time.

Going back to combat, the use of an inhaler to keep V’s hit points (note: life) up easily reminds me of The Outer Worlds. In addition, the food and drinks you purchased at vending machines are also helpful to keep not only your life up but also your stamina. As V is cybernetic, hacking is easily a major part of the gameplay and as you upgrade the character’s cyberwear, V will eventually gain more high-tech capabilities like scanning people and machines for information and more.

Conclusion – For the sake of the people who have not yet played Cyberpunk 2077, I decided not to reveal much about the story of V in my limited playtime. I can say, however, that players are allowed freedom to choose places to visit and activities to do. There is also the freedom for players to take time away from doing main story mission in favor of side-activities or moving around freely to do what you think you could do. My playtime ended as I was in the middle of a main story mission that involved the supporting character Jackie, a high-tech small robot (pet-like in design) and infiltrating rooms and devices while V stays inside the room of a very high-end hotel.

There is a lot of shooting in this game.

As of this writing, Cyberpunk 2077 is selling at 50% off on the Xbox online store. Now you must be wondering…should you buy the game now that it has been polished and updated with the current generation of game consoles?

In my honest opinion, I prefer to wait first for CD Projekt Red to improve the game even more. I can say that I had an overall positive experience playing the Streetkid path of V during my 5-hour trial play and I had an astounding experience exploring Night City on foot and discovering many new places which show how talented CD Projekt Red’s designers and artists really are. As mentioned earlier, the shooting aspect is still lacking which is unfortunate because it is clear that shooting is the core method of combat. If you don’t like shooting, melee combat is available but that one also needs more refinement to be truly responsive and engaging.

As much as I enjoyed my five hours with Cyberpunk 2077’s free trial, I am not yet convinced to buy the game’s full version for my Xbox Series X now. Not even the 50% discount is enough to convince me to buy it. The game is fun and has its unique ways of entertaining me, but there is still more work needed be done to really make it the great game it was promised to be. To say the least, CD Projekt Red is moving on the right direction on improving the game.

Of course, you my readers who have the means to buy and play Cyberpunk 2077 can decide for yourselves. It’s a risk to take if you really want to spend your hard-earned money on the game now. I’d rather wait for further improvements to be made first before buying it.

What you see here is only a small part of Night City. There’s so much to discover in this game! Are you willing to spend your hard-earned money on Cyberpunk 2077 now?

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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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Xbox Game Pass (XGP) choices for February 2022

I am a subscriber of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) and I’ve been enjoying lots of games on my Xbox Series X. For the month of February 2022, there are new additions announced recently by Team Xbox and already three of them have just been officially released (February 3, 2022) through the service for subscribers to enjoy. There are also DLC updates as well as perks for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (XGPU) subscribers.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the February 1, 2022 announcement on Xbox.com written by XGP Community Lead Megan Spurr…

Contrast (Cloud and Console) ID@Xbox – February 3 – Explore a dreamlike, vaudevillian world of the 1920s, in which you can shift freely in and out of shadow. Tasked with helping a young girl named Didi, you will unravel the mysteries behind her troubled family and the dark secrets that must be exposed to re-shape her future.

Dreamscaper (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 3 – An endlessly replayable action roguelike with a waking/dreaming gameplay cycle. By night, delve deep into your subconscious, facing nightmares in an ever-changing world filled with unique items, abilities, and challenges. By day, explore the city of Redhaven, build relationships and unlock permanent upgrades to take on the next dream stronger than ever.

Telling Lies (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 3 – An investigative thriller game with non-linear storytelling, Telling Lies revolves around a cache of secretly recorded video conversations. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Alexandra Shipp, Kerry Bishé, Angela Sarafyan, and directed by Sam Barlow, creator of Her Story and writer/designer of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

Besiege (Game Preview)(Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 10 – Besiege is a physics building game where you construct war machines to obliterate fortresses, annihilate legions of soldiers, navigate hazards, and solve physics puzzles. In the single-player campaign, you’ll conquer your way through four distinct islands, each with its own theme, packed with fully destructible levels and see you bring your enemies to their knees. Learn more about Besiege (Game Preview)here!

CrossfireX (Console) – February 10 – Available on day one with Xbox Game Pass: Play the first CrossfireX single-player campaign, Operation: Catalyst, developed in partnership with Remedy Entertainment. Take control of a Global Risk unit, as they traverse through enemy territory to save their captured teammate and uncover the dark secrets of the Black List Mercenary group.

Edge of Eternity (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 10 – Available on day one with Game Pass: Wage epic turn-based battles as you follow Daryon and Selene on their quest to find a cure to the all-consuming Corrosion in this grand tale of hope and sacrifice, created by a small team of passionate JRPG lovers.

Skul: The Hero Slayer (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 10 – Skul is a fast-paced action rogue-lite where losing your head is encouraged. Featuring 100 playable characters each with their own unique abilities and a ton of items that can create wild synergies, the battles are as electrifying as they are challenging.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Staff of Doom (Cloud, Console, and PC) – February 10 – Battle hordes of zombies and monsters in The Last Kids on Earth and the Staff of Doom, a semi-open world action RPG that tells a new story in the post-apocalyptic town of Wakefield. Playing as teen survivors Jack, Quint, June, or Dirk, you’ll explore zombie-infested streets on your quest to stop Malondre, a powerful adversary from obtaining the Staff of Doom.

Ark: Ultimate Survivor Edition (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 14 – Experience everything that the Ark franchise has to offer with Game Pass in this definitive collection! Tame and ride primeval creatures as you explore savage lands, team up with other players to compete in epic tribal battles, and travel together on the greatest dinosaur-filled adventure of all time.

Infernax (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox – February 14 – Available on day one with Game Pass: Infernax is the adventures of a great knight who returns to his homeland only to find it plagued with unholy magic. While on your quest to find and destroy the source of this corruption by any means necessary, you will face ruthless creatures, dangerous beasts, and precarious terrains.

The Xbox.com article also confirmed that there will be games leaving the Xbox Game Pass service on February 15. Those games are Control, Code Vein, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, The Medium, Project Winter and The Falconeer. If you are an XGP subscriber and you have not played those games on your Xbox console, now is the time to download what titles interest you the most.

Going back to the games for XGP this month, CrossfireX, Contrast and Edge of Eternity are the most interesting to me. Contrast is an old game made by Xbox game studio Compulsion Games which was released many years ago when the said developer was still independent. I completely missed out on Contrast back then and the opportunity to try the game without paying anything extra is a welcome move. Edge of Eternity is a fantasy role-playing game that was clearly influenced by Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). It was released on Windows PC in 2021 and being added on XGP (apart from being scheduled for release on multiple platforms on February 10) will surely interest Xbox gamers who love JRPGs.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Antitrust notification for Robinsons’ full takeover of Ministop not needed according to Philippine Competition Commission (PCC)

If you have been living here in the Philippines, have you visited any branch of the Ministop chain of convenience stores lately? Did you notice that the term acquisition was more prominent recently in business news as of late mainly due to the Microsoft-Activision-Blizzard deal?

The point here is that another acquisition happening in the Philippines – Robinsons is set for a full takeover of Ministop (which itself is already majority owned by the said corporation) and an antitrust notification is not needed according to the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). This was reported lately by GMA Network news.

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

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said Tuesday Robinsons Supermarket Corp. does not need to notify the antitrust watchdog of its full takeover of the Ministop franchise in the country as the company already has majority control over the convenience store franchise.

“Based on PCC’s merger rules, the Commission acknowledges that Robinsons’ current majority stake in Ministop already affords them control, and Robinsons is no longer required to notify the proposed acquisition to the antitrust commission,” the antitrust body said in a statement.

On Monday, Robinsons Supermarket —a wholly-owned subsidiary of Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI)— announced it will acquire the 40% share of Ministop Japan in Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc. (RCSI), effectively taking full ownership of the business.

RCSI is the exclusive franchisee of Ministop in the Philippines, with Robinsons Supermarket Corp. holding a 60% stake in the firm. It will continue to operate the stores with the Ministop brand, within a prescribed transition period agreed upon with the Japanese counterpart.

RRHI said the stores will continue to operate as Ministop until they are repurposed and appropriately rebranded, in consideration of its ready-to-eat offerings such as Uncle John’s Fried Chicken and Kariman.

The PCC said it received reports of Ministop Japan’s sale to Lotte, including its sale of its joint venture stake in the Philippines.

Nikkei Asia reported that the Japanese convenience store operator will sell its South Korean and Philippine businesses, after unloading a Chinese subsidiary in Qingdao.

The PCC, however, noted that it will look into Robinsons’ portfolio in the consumer retail sector which includes supermarkets, department stores, and community malls, among others.

Merger reviews are focused on the effects and changes of market behavior in the hands of new owners or stakeholders,” it said.

“This transaction may result in a change in ownership of a significant portion of equity but it is not likely to have an effect on the economic behavior of the target firm,” it added.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this business development? If you are a regular customer of Ministop, what do you think will happen once the full takeover by Robinsons happens? Do you think that the quality of the customer service and store facilities will improve? When it comes to convenience store competition here in the Philippines, how do you rate Ministop with the likes of 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson? Are you personally attached to Ministop’s branch?

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard shakes gaming industry!

It has been a few days since the industry shaking announcement was made – Microsoft will acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion and that means major additions (games, intellectual properties, game development talents, technologies and more) coming to Team Xbox for gamers to enjoy within the Xbox ecosystem.

This is easily the most unbelievable and most intriguing video game business development since the Xbox-Bethesda deal (deal completed in 2021). Unbelievable because nobody (other than the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard executives) saw this deal would happen at all even though Team Xbox made clear it would push on with acquisitions. Intriguing because Activision Blizzard itself has been controversial in very negative ways (for references, click here, here and here) which brings major challenges for Team Xbox to solve once the acquisition has been completed.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the reactions and analysis of Xbox YouTubers and gaming media in the videos below…

And now, for even greater perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement on Xbox.com written by none other than Phil Spencer himself and he now has a new work title…CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Now pay close attention to the details below. Some parts in boldface…

As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.

As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.

Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.

The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.

As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.

Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games.

Wow! That was once massive and strategically worded announcement there by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer! Not only does this great development prove that Microsoft continues to go all-in on gaming through Team Xbox, it also shows partially what the long-term video gaming business will be for them, Activision Blizzard’s teams and the consumers who collectively own game consoles, desktops, laptops, smartphones and other devices with access to the Xbox network and ecosystem. The acquisition, once approved, will help Team Xbox gain a strong presence in the lucrative mobile gaming industry.

Very clearly, the business of video games is no longer limited to game consoles, software and online gaming networks which is something that Japan-based Sony and Nintendo should realize. The console-only approach of business is itself a hindrance on reaching out to billions of people who play games, as well as an obstacle to achieve massive business growth not for the short term but for the long term.

The most recent games of Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty, Starcraft, Warcraft, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro have been released on game consoles and Windows PC. There is also the mobile gaming titan Call of Duty: Mobile under Activision. These facts proves that the acquisition by Microsoft makes business and technical sense.

When it comes to Xbox gaming, I believe that in due time, future installments of established Activision Blizzard game franchises as well as brand new intellectual properties will become Xbox-exclusive after the completion of the acquisition and as long as Activision Blizzard has no signed agreements with PlayStation or Nintendo related to console exclusivity of games. What is the basis for this? Take a look back at what Phil Spencer said before

“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,”

Going back to Spencer’s Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement, he specifically confirmed that Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers has reached 25 million already, and things will only get exciting as more Activision Blizzard games will be added into the service! Expect lots of Call of Duty games, Crash Bandicoot games, Tony Hawk games and more! Xbox Game Pass will become even more varied with its game selection from the Xbox game studios and that means the subscription service will become even more attractive, even essential, to gamers who want great value for their money.

Apart from Activision Blizzard’s games and intellectual properties, Microsoft will also inherit the many employees working under AB’s game studios as well as their proprietary technologies (game engines, rendering software and the like) and have them integrated into Xbox Game Studios.

Easily the biggest video game development of 2022!

Right now, there is still a long road ahead for the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal to endure first heading towards competition. Don’t forget that the deal is still subject for review by the regulators. The people who hate Xbox and even Activision Blizzard out there can always rant a lot, complain a lot and spew lots of nonsense but nothing changes the fact that the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal does not really constitute a monopoly in the video game industry. The said industry is much bigger than most people know and there are several other game publishers out there whose combined market values heavily outweigh Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and even Bethesda combined. As for the internal side of things, I believe that Microsoft has what it takes to end the negativity within Activision Blizzard, solve the related problems and straighten things out. It will take a few years but I believe improvements will happen. By then, more entertainment content will flood the Xbox ecosystem as well as Xbox Game Pass!

Truly now is a great time to be part of the Xbox ecosystem as more great games will be coming in! Personally, I am looking forward to play Activision Blizzard’s games on my Xbox Series X through Xbox Game Pass!

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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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Forza Horizon 5 is a super-charged, fun-filled game that must be played!

Ever since I started subscribing to Xbox Game Pass (XGP), I’ve been playing the universally acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 a lot on my Xbox Series X and as of this writing, it is my most played game. Why? Because each time I play it, Forza Horizon 5 keeps on offering me a lot of opportunities to have fun from joining races, touring the fictionalized Mexico setting to taking part in very interesting, tourism-inspired missions/quests.

My name on the plate license.
Out in the open!
I made it in the Hall of Fame!

What I can confirm to you all is that this Xbox-exclusive open-world racing game made by Playground Games consistently delivered a lot of enjoyable stuff for me to discover and experience while also respecting my freedom of choice as to where can I go, what races should I compete in, what places can be discovered and a whole lot more! Very clearly the developers made the game with entertainment in mind and given the exceptional game design concept of the Forza Horizon series as a whole, they delivered a very unique car-oriented video game that keeps on moving into uncharted territories that most other racing games have not achieved.

Forza Horizon 5 is not your typical racing game. It has a fictionalized Mexico as the massive in-game world that is waiting for players to discover complete with the distinct environmental features, architectures, and ancient structures that reflect the nation’s rich culture.

At the Horizon Mexico site.
Speeding along the bridge!
That is the volcano!

There are also a whole of races or competitions for you to choose from. If you love racing at high speed on roads, there’s a lot of them. You love off-road racing and are willing to test your ability to drive over mud, sand, dirt or over some vegetation? Lots of those races are available! If you are looking for unusual challengers to compete with, there are special races in which you get to test your skill and might against a speeding train or an airplane or jet skiers! Not only that, there are also these very enduring special races that are over 30 miles long and I personally love the endurance test while performing my best against all the competitors which make the crossing the finish line a very satisfying experience!

Like its predecessors, Forza Horizon 5 is also rich with customization of your cars and even your in-game avatar (who has a voice and lots of lines to speak with). The cars you have can be customized at a Horizon outpost or in your in-game home, and you will have options with regards to vehicular paint, designs and car parts. Not only that, you can also upgrade the car parts and make your car more powerful and move to a higher rating.

A nice place to enjoy the view!
This is a very intense race!
The in-game sky and clouds have that photo-realistic touch.

When it comes to customizing your avatar, you can choose from several pre-designed human models and then adjust the hair style, hair color, prosthetics (note: if you really want this), physical expressions and most notable of all, you will have lots of options on your avatar’s shoes and clothes (shirts, jackets, trousers, skirts and dresses plus hats and eyewear to name some).

Going back into the Forza Horizon 5’s digital Mexico, there will also be some nicely designed places that you can purchase as your avatar’s home and each one is strategically located in different areas that reflect the local look and culture. As of this writing, I already purchased 6 homes, including two each with a 7-figure price tag.

One of my six homes as of this writing.
My newest home that cost 2,000,000 in in-game currency.
If you really want to earn more in-game money, you’ve got win and level-up a lot!

As of my last Forza Horizon 5 session, my car collection is still less than a hundred and already I sent out about ten cars as gifts (note: the barns) for a variety of gamers who play the game. As I was focused on raising money to buy all the homes in the game, my purchasing of new cars has been slow and this only motivates me to keep on joining races, raise as much money from each race and also relying on random winnings from the spin-a-prize sequences. I checked the in-game car shop and I am very impressed with the wide selection of hundreds of cars offered by many vehicular manufacturers from around the world. I like the Porsche cars that made it into the game!

When it comes to gameplay variety, gamers will not only have lots of races to join in, there are also these varied, driving-oriented quests that each have their own story concept and characters who will interact with your avatar. These quests include helping out in stunt car sequences for a movie production, helping a scientist with finding date in key locations, etc. Not only that, there are also these barns to find that each have the remains of an old vehicle that could be restored to working condition. And then there are these timed, limited events/activities you can join in.

A great view of only a portion of the game’s fictionalized Mexico.
A short clip from one of the special activities I took part in.
This Porsche is fast and highly responsive in terms of control! It’s worth spending money on!

I’ve played Forza Horizon 5 for a little over 15 hours now and I can only speculate that there are still a lot more to discover within the game by default. Combine all of those with the seasonal or special events/activities, there is always something new to do and discover in the game!

With Halo Infinite launching in a few more days, I’ve got to play more of Forza Horizon 5 because if the sci-fi shooter is as great and as immersive as what the YouTubers (who had access to 10 hours of the single player campaign) then that would most likely be my regular game to play on Xbox Series X.

As I have yet to complete Forza Horizon 5 as of now, this piece I am writing is NOT a game review but rather my opinion piece based on what I experienced with the game so far. What I can declare is this: if you love cars, exploring, adventuring, good music and if you want the best enjoyment available on Xbox Series X right now, then Forza Horizon 5 is a must-have and must-play game! Forza Horizon 5 is truly a very great game loaded with lots of fun stuff to keep any gamer busy and happy!

I love playing Forza Horizon 5 on my Xbox Series X!

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Pay close attention to Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the exclusive games being made by their partners

Nothing changes the fact that Team Xbox and its 23 game studios are hard at work producing exclusive games that will provide years’ worth of fun-filled content to Xbox console gamers, PC gamers and the many millions who subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Were you able to read my recent article about Stoic (The Banner Saga) and its current work on an exclusive game with Team Xbox? For those who missed out on it, Team Xbox is actively working with varied game studios (examples: Avalanche Studios on Contraband, and IO Interactive on Project Dragon) on producing even more Xbox-exclusive games and the said studios are still free being independent entities.

Very recently, Miles Dompier of Windows Central Gaming wrote an in-depth article about the moves and projects of Xbox Game Studios Publishing in cooperation with the independent game makers. To start with, watch this WCG video of WCG and Miles Dompier…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Dompier’s article. Some parts in boldface…

In addition to a staggering first-party future including titles like Hellblade 2, Fable, Everwild, Starfield, and many more, we also know of roughly 10 Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles potentially in the works. Xbox understands that strategic partnerships on games published through Xbox may make more sense than outright acquisitions when it comes to building meaningful relationships with developers. And who knows? Maybe some of these teams will love their experience working with Xbox, which could lead to more permanent relationships.

For now, we’ll be recapping all the Xbox Game Studios Publishing projects we currently know about as well as revealing one brand new codename. Here are several reasons why we should all be very excited about the future of Xbox Game Studios Publishing.

Xbox Game Studios Publishing codenames

As Dusk Falls is still in production.

Let’s start with the small list of Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles that have officially been announced so far. First up, we have the interactive drama As Dusk Falls. This stylized game from Interior/Night promises an engaging narrative with player choice driving the story. As it stands, there’s no release date or window for this project.

Next, we have the upcoming co-op heist title Contraband from open-world experts Avalanche Studios. Set in the 1970s, this seemingly ambitious open-world game allows players to execute the perfect heist with unique vehicles and gadgets. While there’s no official release date yet, we’ll likely get more details on the project sometime in 2022.

Now we’ll touch on some Xbox projects we’ve previously covered or teased in the past. The infamous Project Dragon from IO Interactive has been in the rumor mill for quite some time now. This action RPG aims to deliver a vast and ongoing multiplayer fantasy experience. A release or even reveal may be a ways off here, but it’s still exciting to think about the possibilities.

Project Belfry is another exciting potential Xbox exclusive. According to Jeff Grubb and his luscious mane, this side-scrolling brawler from The Banner Saga developers Stoic Studios is comparable to the PlayStation exclusive Dragon’s Crown in terms of gameplay, but will feature the painted art style this team is known for.

An Xbox Game Studios Publishing title that has me particularly interested is Project Shaolin. Reportedly in development by BrassLion Entertainment, this action RPG will reportedly feature an anime aesthetic and focus on the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. With four-player co-op and a seasonal loot system, this project sounds right up my alley.

Fans of 4X strategy titles like Civilization should be interested in the upcoming Project Indus from developer Oxide Games. With turn-based strategic elements, city building, empire advancement, espionage, diplomacy, and warfare, this should scratch a specific itch for fans of the genre.

As you can see in Dompier’s article above, the Xbox-exclusive projects made by independent game makers are in production and will fill the gaps on the Xbox portfolio to not only provide content for console, PC and Xbox Game Pass gamers but also to meet the varied tastes or interests of gamers. Action-oriented role-playing? Project Shaolin! Interactive drama? Watch out for As Dusk Falls!

The years-old belief that “Xbox has no games” is idiotic and totally untrue by today’s standards. I know there are lots of Xbox-haters and console fanboys out there who just keep bashing Xbox by lying and ranting, disregarding the many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games and even dismissing the growing business partnerships Team Xbox made with independent game companies and even the Microsoft-SEGA strategic alliance. Whatever the Xbox-hating mob does, nothing changes the trend that gaming on the Xbox ecosystem will only grow bigger, offer gamers lots of choices and become a lot more fun than ever before. Speaking of growing excitement, watch out for the Xbox 20th Anniversary Event online today (November 15), the universal acclaim of Forza Horizon 5, the December 8 release of Halo Infinite, and the December 16 release of the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk!

For the complete details about Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the future Xbox-exclusives, I encourage you all to read Miles Dompier’s article at https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-game-studios-publishing-secret-weapon-new-exclusives

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 on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com and also on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

The Banner Saga developers and Team Xbox working together on a new Xbox-exclusive game

Can you feel the excitement of video games right now? The highly acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 is just days away from launching globally while the anticipated Xbox 20th anniversary celebration on November 15, 2021 is gradually approaching! A little over a month from now, Halo Infinite will be released globally and already its single-player campaign is very promising.

Adding more to the excitement was the recent article written by Jez Corden (the same guy who wrote the recent hot scoop about the Xbox fantasy RPG Avowed) about another Xbox-exclusive game being made by Stoic Studio, the team behind The Banner Saga trilogy of games. The said game is referred to as Project Belfry.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Jez Corden’s article published recently by Windows Central Gaming. Some parts in boldface…

I mentioned a couple of weeks back about a codename ‘Belfry’ I’d discovered pertaining to an upcoming Xbox game on my Xbox Two podcast show with YouTuber Rand Al Thor 19. Up until now, I wasn’t sure exactly what the game was, besides a vague reference to bell towers. I knew Stoic was building a game with Xbox too, but it wasn’t until Jeff Grubb put the final pieces together on his show today that everything fit into place. Grubb also gave us key details about the game and some snippets about what to expect.

Project Belfry will sport similar painted art styles to that found in The Banner Saga, depicted above, while sporting side-scrolling brawling combat, similar to the likes of the PlayStation exclusive ‘Dragon’s Crown’. Grubb specifically linked the art style to the anime movie ‘Princess Mononoke,’ which sounds like it could be quite gorgeous indeed. The “Belfry,” hinted at by the game’s codename, will form some sort of base for crafting and upgrades, too.

Belfry is another title joining what seems to be a vast expansion of Xbox Global Publishing’s footprint, working with developers big and small to bring more titles to Xbox Game Pass. We’ve seen larger studios jump on board, featuring Avalanche on Contraband, and we have strong rumors about Project Dragon, built in partnership with Hitman’s IO Interactive. Belfry may be on the smaller side, joining the action RPG from Brass Lion Entertainment codenamed Shaolin, but given the quality of The Banner Saga, Project Belfry may well punch far above its weight.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely give The Banner Saga a go, given that it’s now available as a neat and tidy trilogy package. Your decisions carry over between games too, affecting the way the story pans out in a big way.

Now watch this video about The Banner Saga trilogy below. It should give you an idea about what kind of games Stoic Studio makes and what kind of visuals you can expect from them.

While I myself have not yet played any games of The Banner Saga, the above scoop by Jez Corden (with acknowledgement to Jeff Grubb) is indeed very pleasant and only shows that new and more Xbox-exclusive games are coming. The catch here is that this an exclusive project that does not involve any of the internal Xbox game studios at all business-wise. Xbox Global Publishing is an arm of Team Xbox that negotiates and deals with independent game developers for new projects exclusive on the Xbox ecosystem. This Stoic-made Xbox project should remind you about Contraband, the upcoming Xbox-exclusive game made by Avalanche Studio, the team responsible for the 2015 Mad Max game.

As it is true that Team Xbox will continue to acquire more game studios and while fully funding the many, many Xbox-exclusive games in production for release in the near future, it is really nice to see that they are still negotiating with independent game studios to make exclusive stuff. It comes to show that Microsoft values business partnerships and they are aware that there are lots of game studios or even publishers which are not yet willing to be acquired as they still prefer to be independent even though they may be struggling financially. Just recently, Microsoft and Sega started a new business partnership in the form of a strategic alliance. That being said, the Stoic Xbox project called Project Belfry is something to look forward to.

By the way, have you all bought yourselves an Xbox Series S or an Xbox Series X console? Have you subscribed to Xbox Game Pass already? The definitive edition of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will launch on XGP on November 11.

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