Monday, July 16, 2012

Sharing Spiffiness Vol. 1

Hey there. I'm still here. Just working on getting a number of books read and reviewed so I don't feel so pressed all the time. Stress doesn't seem to bode well for my productivity.

In the meantime, I'll be posting little tidbits of neat bookish things I find around the web.


So Book One (Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone) was released to Beta users last summer, and was finally unveiled to the public earlier this year. It was met with some praise, some critiques, but mostly a lot of burn-out.

Sure, it was exciting (or confusing/disappointing) to get sorted into your house, explore the castle, brew potions and duel your classmates, but in the end it could hold our interests only so long. Even the announcement that the first House Cup would finally be awarded gave me little incentive to come back (though, I was thrilled at the reset of points - gave Huffles a long awaited chance to show our stuff.)

But then the BIG announcement was made: Book Two, Chamber of Secrets, was finally being released. The House Cup winner (Slytherin) even got to explore the book a full day ahead of everyone else! Sure, only the first four chapters have been released so far, but from what I've seen so far, I'm pretty impressed at their improvements.

In Sorcerer's Stone, there was a lot missing. The scenes zoomed in twice, but you could basically see everything as it stood in the first screen, making it all too easy to continue on without knowing to click in to explore further. The sounds (which were added after Beta) seemed overly stock, some of which I recognized from JK's own website. And the interactions, which were only required on maybe 5 pages, were simple point and click. The only one with any difficulty was Snape's logic puzzle, making it the only thing which might have required referencing the book.

Chamber of Secrets, I'm happy to report, has upped the anti. Scenes vary from zooming in, zooming out, entering closed doors, entering shops...and that's only the first four chapters! The sound effects and background noise seemed more varied and tailored to fit the sections, not nearly as stock as Book One. And treasures seem a lot more plentiful - this book takes the scavenger hunt to another level with even more Chocolate Frog cards and Bertie Bott's Beans to find.

But the overall interaction is really where I was impressed. There's a puzzle which actually requires you to reference the order objects are listed in the book. So if you're reading along (which the website strongly encourages) you can solve the puzzle in a few seconds, or if you're one for memory challenges, you can try your hand at making the right order on your own. There's also a very fun de-gnoming the garden game which I've played several times (though it can be extremely difficult on slower internet/browsers).

Overall, if you haven't yet checked out Pottermore, or if you haven't yet ventured back for Book Two, I'd encourage you to try out the new features for yourself! And I'll probably be listing an update when the next section of chapters is released, so stay tuned.

Book Announcements

I'm definitely on board for this new dystopian, though I do hope we get more information on the society than the trailer suggests. I mean, I guess tribal politics and island survival are interesting and all that, but I'm already looking forward to them getting off the island and taking the fight to the streets. But I guess I'm just an urban girl at heart.

This was one of my Creative Writing professors at my college. I definitely be reading (and reviewing) her book in the near future. Even though it's not my usual book preference, I do enjoy reading historicals now and again, and I hope to find a great heroine, too.