Finally, a fresh title to sink my teeth into. I am speaking of Dishonored of course, a game that I finally had a chance to clear in the past month or so. I had been waiting for Dishonored for a long time, and basically bought it when it first came out and managed to play it while I was in my dorm room in Urbino. Unfortunately though, while I was Italy, I discovered that it was the game that pushed my laptop over the edge and would make it overheat. So I finally managed to sink my teeth into it when I got back and managed to get a cooling mat for it. After the first couple chapters I put the game down, as I do with many of my games, and switched to a different one to see how that one suited my fancy for a while. However, in the past month, I made a pact with myself to clear all of my games that I have that I never really cleared (at least the ones with clear endings). So now I only keep five games on my laptop at any time, four games that I dive into, and one for casual play. Thus, Dishonored was reinstalled, and completed finally. WARNING: SPOILERS.

First off, I would like to comment on the beautiful environment that was created in this new world. The city of Dunwall came to life with the distinct architecture though out the entire city, the citizens that had motives, character, depth, and the way that The Outsider spoke to me. The world is huge, allowing you to take multiple paths to the same goal, making it so if I couldn’t sneak past a guard and into the lighthouse, I could scale another building and blink between roofs, and hide in dumpsters to get there. Now, I ran a “no kill” run for my first play through for a few reasons: one, my friend who had seen the game seemed skeptical of an assassin game that could be cleared without killing a soul, two, I wanted the challenge of being the city’s crusader, and three, I read some of the repercussions of killing people and decided to leave that to my “kill everyone” play through.

Going through the game, I noticed that the atmosphere stayed relatively constant: you have a person to murder or not, and you are wanted for killing the empress so you’ll be killed on site. Things were dark and grimy, just the way you’d expect a city in downfall would be. The game doesn’t get too dark though, you never have to murder your sainted mother or anything, for the most part, you are just killing people who are either A, evil or B, part of the evil machine. The environment does all of the work, and a couple of characters add to it, like Granny Rags and The Outsider.

The mechanics work like a dream, never really breaking stride in the game, allowing you to seamlessly blink across a roof, possess a rat, sneak into the building, hit a guard with a sleep dart, steal a safe code, and make it out through the fourth floor window. However, that sequence happened about the six time that I tried the mission. I give the game points for definitely being challenging when trying not to kill people. However, now that I have tried playing by killing everyone that I see, I have found the game much easier to get through. Now, that same sequence goes more like this: kill the front guard, take his key, kill the guard guarding the safe code, and walk out like a boss.

I’ve also started to experience the difference in high and low chaos now that I have started my “kill everyone” run. Playing the first assassination mission showed more rat swarms to start off with, which I know is just the beginning of the mayhem that is going to ensue. Overall, I give the game a high rating, and I’m waiting for the Knife of Dunwall DLC(s) that will be coming out (though depending on price, I may not get them, we will see).

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

I am frustrated with a new trend in gaming that has been going on in probably the worst ways imaginable. The trend is Downloadable Content, or DLC, that I am here to really talk about today.

Now I have purchased certain DLCs before for my different games, and for the ones I bought, I was actually really happy with what I received. I’ve paid $5 for a good extra five hours of story and gameplay for some of my games, and I’ve paid $1 for something nifty that I kind of wanted for my character. Overall, I think I’ve spent no more than $20 on DLCs for all of my games. The thing that I am really starting to not like is the increase in the price of DLCs, the content you actually get for the price, and the release dates for the DLCs.

The prices of DLCs seem to be going up quite a bit for most of the games that I keep a watch on, which is irritating. Paying $10 for a new costume isn’t how things should be, that should be a dollar, maybe two at most, but I don’t want to shell out so much just for some rags on my characters. I also don’t want to pay $5 for a new weapon, again, that should be a couple of bucks at most. When I’m paying $10 for a DLC, I want to get at least another five hours of gameplay, or story for that money. Currently though, most of the DLCs that have been coming out only give you either a skin or a map for five or ten bucks. The DLCs I purchased for Kingdoms of Amalur were worth the price because I got a huge new area to explore in each, added plot, cool new features that actually mattered, and a slew of special weapons to be earn in those areas.

Now I recently purchased the new Fire Emblem: Awakening game for the 3DS and noticed that I could download some extra maps for it, which I first thought was cool. Then I started looking at the prices for each of them. Four, five, and even six dollars for a single map to play. Each map only gives you about twenty minutes of extra gameplay depending on how careful you are with your units. This is the type of DLC that I don’t enjoy, the kind that gives you a map, 20 minutes of gameplay, and charges you so much. What I want for five or six bucks is a map pack, something that has all of the extra xenologues, or paralogues in them. I would be content with paying five bucks for the map pack of a set of those. Developers really need to start thinking about what they are making into DLC and how much that is actually going to cost because all of us are cutting back on our gaming purchases and trying to make smart, long term choices for what we purchase.

The final point I’m going to make with these DLC problems is the release dates for some of the things they are releasing. This irks me probably the most out of everything because of the time frame of everything. Game is released. Next day, DLC is released. Or, the even worse model. Game is released, so is DLC on the same day. I get really angry about this because I feel that if they can churn out DLC right after the release or the day of, then why couldn’t it be a part of the original game? Seriously, I know everyone wants to just rob my wallet when it comes to games now, but can we at least have things calm down with the DLC stuff? I have no problem with the idea of DLCs, extra content that they didn’t have time to put into the original game or stuff they just wanted to add because they felt like it, sure give me some of that. I just want the developers to really consider pricing this stuff better, and to get better with the release dates of the stuff because I won’t buy a DLC that comes out day of the game release, nor will I buy a DLC a year and a half after the game is out. Developers really need to find the sweet spot for releasing this stuff.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

A squeal to a game series that I have been waiting quite a while came out, DmC. My background with the series was having the first three games and never getting more than a couple hours into any of them. So when I saw the trailers and gameplay of the new one and saw that they were basically rebooting the series, I was kind of excited to give it a try. Now though, I wish I hadn’t bought the game and all of its lack of content.

To start off with, the night that I got the game, I put it into my XBOX and started drinking while playing it. As I played and became increasingly more impaired, I found that the game was too easy, so I bumped up the difficulty every time I beat a level with an S rank or higher. Well in no time I was playing on the hardest difficulty first available to you without beating the game, still getting S and SS ranks on all of the missions. Then, before I knew it, I beat the game. No deaths, all S rank or above, while heavily impaired at the end.

So here is the critique: the game sucked. I bought the game a few days after it came out, so I still had to pay full price (used wasn’t available yet, but it’s only $5 cheaper now). The game was not worth full price for how much I actually got out of the game, and this is the thing that really irks me about current gaming. It seems that developers think that just playing a game again on a higher difficulty is what replay value is about, beating the score you made last time, honing your skills, and adding your name to a leaderboard. This, however, is not replay value, this is a copout. Replay is wanting to experience the unique game for all of its greatness, reliving the story, and partly for some nostalgia. I frequently replay The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, because it has a great plot, cutting grass is fun, and it’s still the best adventure game I’ve ever played. I have made multiple character profiles in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion to try out the different character builds and different side quests and stuff. I’ve thrown open a new file in Fire Emblem because I want a good challenge. DmC has none of these traits. It is short, typical hack and slash, no challenge.

Now as I said before, I was excited for the reboot of the series because of the prospect of the challenge and plot that would just take me in (and the fact that Dante got impaled by a freaking sword and lived, but got killed by puppets). I saw that they reworked the combat system, made it more fluid. Great! I like being able to throw a guy up, blast him with a shotgun, throw his friend off the stage, and then cut the head off the last guy in one fluid combo. What I don’t like is making certain weapons, again, useless. The scythe you get is awesome, but so weak that I only used it when I needed a large combo, or for the enemies that had to have it used on them. Once you get past the fluid combat, there are no other redeeming qualities. Story is flat, boring, and just kind of annoying. You see all of the different things they talk about, and want to know more, but never get it. There are plot twists that you see the second you start the game. The characters have little motive to actually do much. It is very frustrating.

To conclude, this game had potential, so much, but fell flat on its face. It could have been a longer, more challenging game, but instead it is a short, easy, overpriced, generic game. Unfortunately, this is the last Devil May Cry game that I will most likely be purchasing for quite some time. DmC, I bid you farewell.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

The post will be a review of one of the few games that I have cleared recently, Borderlands 2. I managed to clear the final boss about a week ago, and thought that this is a game well worth reviewing for random people on the internet.

The only reason I played Borderlands 2 was because over the holidays a friend of mine bought it for me and a bunch of my friends with the idea of multiplayer gun-slinging, havoc reeking fun, and to start with, he was right. The first two hours that I played the game I was at my friend’s house playing together with my other friends. Each of us chose one of the four unique classes, I chose the assassin Zero, and then we dropped into the world. At first, the character builds weren’t very different, partly because of level, but mostly because of weapons at that moment. Until we made it to the next location, all of us were using pistols and melee attacks to get through waves of Bullymogs that blocked our path. After frustrating my friends with running ahead and killing things and stealing all of the loot, I left to go spend time with my girlfriend.

borderlands-2-zero-wallpaper

That was the only time that I played multiplayer, but for the most part, it was kind of fun. The night would have been more fun if I had gotten a sniper rifle at that point and taken advantage of my character’s unique abilities. I ran the rest of the game by myself, taking on a multitude of side quests to fill up my pockets and give me better loot to use to kill bigger things. The game is fairly fast pace, you walk into a new area and get swarmed by all of the monsters, thieves, and general baddies, but that doesn’t deter you because you start exploiting your class perks. I got into the habit of using my sniper rifles to start off a fight when I entered a new area, keeping my distance and picking off all of the new startled enemies. Then, when the stranglers finally ran up to me, I whipped out my shotgun and blew them away. This fighting tactic worked alright to start with, but after I got a few more weapon slots, it changed to accommodate the new arsenal that I was toting around with me.

It wasn’t until fairly late in the game that I actually “died”, at which point I discovered the Fight for Your Life system they implement in the game. If you get your health depleted, you are wounded and can’t zoom your weapons, and you have a limited amount of time to kill another enemy. If you manage to kill one, then you get your shield back and some portion of your health back, thus giving you another go at the current situation. This is where my new set of weapons came in, whenever I went into Fight for Your Life mode, I pulled out my rocket launcher and killed the closest thing. Once I recovered, I would reload my rocket launcher so I could be prepared for the next time that happened to me. I was caught refilling it too often when I actually died because I hadn’t reloaded it from before. Then I started my special ability where I would create a clone that would draw enemies in while I got huge buffs to my melee attacks and critical hits. This came in handy when trying to do massive damage to a boss, or escaping a hairy situation I had gotten myself into.

Overall, the combat system, diverse weapons, upgrades, and skill trees make combat a really great experience to experiment with. Later on in the game though, you will start to find it much more difficult to find a better weapon than the one you are using, I kept the same sniper rifle for a good five hours of game play, until I found one that had a massive power boost. Same with my shotgun, and I used the same pistol for most of the game. Money also became pointless along the way because you are just showered in money (literally) all of the time, which made actually dying later on kind of a mild annoyance than something to really avoid.

The atmosphere of the game world is remarkable because each area is different from the last, making you feel like you are in a wasteland, city, or decimated local. The only thing that could have made it slightly better was if the enemies changed more than they did. Yes I would fight giant bug things in a sewer area, and bandits in an outpost, but any time you found the same type of enemy in two different locations, they didn’t show any difference. This is mainly for the bandit designs because they were the same in the frozen waste land as they were in the desert. A bit more variation would have been great.

The game’s antagonist, Handsome Jack, is the pure embodiment of evil asshole that has to die. Later on in the game they add to his background and try to show you his motives and driving force behind him being a bastard, but in the end, you have no sympathy for the man. He is a great character because you never really have any moral grey moments when dealing with him, even after they add in his backstory.

The rest of the supporting character for the game really fill in the universe because everyone is different from the last important person you had to deal with. Each of the supporting characters will also give you unique quests for you to fill in your play time with. Some of the time you’ll have to kill so many of a certain monster, or run around trying to deliver mail in a bad part of town, but for the most part, you’ll get something new quest from quest. I went from checking up on my worst enemy’s grandmother, to trying to help a robot become human.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes dark/absurd humor, growth of characters, guns, and general merriment. Grab a buddy and take on Handsome Jack, and put him out of his misery!

borderlands2

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

This time I think I’ll discuss another issue that is close to home for me which is the upcoming generation of videogame consoles and all of the rumors and what not going on with them. Now I wanted to discuss the current issues with the videogame world because it’s an important part of my life, it’s how I blow off steam, relax in the evening, and generally just calm down sometimes. I also use them as an escape from the real world from time to time, because it is just nice to take the role of the dark knight and crusade through the dark streets of Gotham every once in a while. However, recent developments and rumors have made me worried for this wonderful time suck, most of which coming with the new generation of consoles.

I’m first going to address the concern about certain companies that have gone bankrupt in the recent months, mostly the THQ liquidation. These are the people who created Darksiders, Saints Row, Red Faction, Homefront and many other games. The company sold off most of their divisions and kept only one for themselves, but for the most part, we can say goodbye to this company and what they strived for in games. Now this is a concern because we are always hearing now that companies are not doing very well and are starting to go under. This isn’t helped with the media and government scrutinizing every aspect of the games that they produce. We have people saying that videogames are awful things that consume lives, devour their souls, and turn them into murdering members of our society. Others say that games are a First Amendment right that should be protected because they are a freedom of expression and storytelling that has developed in the new generations.

My weigh-in on the issue of looking into games and banning or any other restrictions is that we already have a rating system for the games that tells you the age range, why, and when you purchase mature games you have to show an ID showing you are of age or have a parent or guardian there to purchase it for you. At that point, it comes to the parents taking time to go and look up what the games their children are playing are about, all of the information is only ever a few clicks away on the internet. I feel that a lot of the issues that the government or other concerned people comes down to are actually on a more family based level of inspection. Parents should ask their kids what they play, and research it. Parents who buy their kids games and don’t even think about what it’s about should first look at what they are doing first. My parents knew the games that I played and actually controlled what I played for the early years of my gaming youth, but after a while, once they knew I was mature enough, they let me take the reins of it and police myself. Videogames are what you make of them, if you always spend 16 hours a day playing a game, then that’s not good, but if you play for a couple hours a day or every once in a while then you have a better control of the actual potential problem. It’s like alcohol, you could drink every day and never feel your toes again, or just have a drink when you go out with friends.

Now we start moving into the current console issues that are cropping up because of the recent set of rumors coming out over the next PlayStation and XBOX systems. My largest concern is the rumor about the idea of blocking used games with one time activation codes or tying them to the initial system that you play them on. This is a concern because I like to share games with friends or bring games over to their houses and play multiplayer with everyone. This would limit that ability and actually participating in the festivities. The also hurts the resale market which is another part of the industry that developers have had to deal with other the course of the videogame existence. Resale stores are always going to be around, that is just a fact, look at clothes, watches, computers, music, art, movies. Now the resale industry already screws all of us over, but having system tied games hurts the resale stores as well. When I want a game that might not be very available or what, I go to a resale store and see if they have it, and they’ll probably have it for the cheap. Then, when I sell my games back to the resale store and get a dollar back for it all, I feel violated by the sheer cheek these people have to offer so little for so much. Developers have tried to get people to buy new games by adding first time activation codes, DLCs, and special bonus features for buying the initial product from them. The problem with these is that there isn’t enough bang that goes with them, getting a new skin for my character isn’t really worth paying full price for the game, nor is a multiplayer map. Give me something bigger, more dramatic, and more significant; give me something that makes me think, “I want that!” Also, stop releasing DLCs the day after the game comes out. That’s ridiculous. Include the DLCs in the game; don’t make me pay an extra five bucks to get the Trials of Dunwall pack.

The next point is the actual games themselves and the fact that they aren’t as juicy as previous generations. I know games have changed over the years, but when Cruising World is ten hours longer than the latest Devil May Cry game, we have a problem. Yes, it’s racing versus a hack and slash, but come on, I cleared DmC in three hours and at least S ranked each mission while I was drunk. Cruising World took many hours of fine tuning, practice, and throwing the controller on the damn moon level. Now here is the problem with this: I felt that Cruising World earned every penny and then some of my money that I spent on it years ago, while DmC was $60 and barely entertained me for an evening. Sure, DmC looked better than Cruising World, but it wasn’t as much fun and this is the flaw with the gaming world at the moment. Shut up about graphics, I don’t need to see the sweat coming off the biceps of a character three miles away, what I want is a game that I can immerse myself in and enjoy for many hours. And I know people say, “Well that’s what replay is for!” Yes, it can be, but everything shouldn’t be built on the hope that you will go through the same game three or four times, it should have a story and game play that stands strong with one play through. Also, games now don’t have much replay value, only if you care about leaderboards, but otherwise you are just playing the same game, same everything, again, with no endearing qualities to make you want to do that. So I get screwed with the initial cost, hence one reason I don’t tend to buy games new, then I get screwed with the actual amount of content, thus screwing me by the development teams, and then if I sell it to a resale store I get screwed over by how much I get back, finally screwing me over by the resale stores giving me a quarter of the price of a game that came out yesterday.

Overall, the whole community of gamers, developers, story tellers, politicians, and everyone else, needs to get together and fix things slightly so that we all get what we want. Gamers need to be more forgiving of certain things that developers do, but steadfast in the fact that we do not take multiple mistakes well. Developers need to listen to the gamers about what they want, but should try new things and shouldn’t be destroyed for trying something new and it not going well. Story tellers need to get back into the business and stop bogging us down with volumes of back stories of the plains of no one cares, story should be seamlessly woven into the game. Politicians need to stop scape goating videogames for other people’s problems, but instead invest time in helping people understand the good and the bad of the industry. We all want to be happy and are reasonable people for the most part, let’s all come together and make the community great again.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

            So I know I haven’t posted in a long time, but that is due to my current work load and previous quest to find an apartment to live in for this semester. I found one, so I’m not homeless. The topic I wanted to discuss for this post though relates to a couple of posts that I have seen on Tumblr the past week or so that deal with tipping.

            I have tried to find an unbiased article about the incident, but have failed at the time of this post, so to find related articles about the incident I am talking about Google “pastor stiffs tip” and you should find many articles about the incident. Read up on it and make your own judgments about the whole incident. The part that I am going to focus on though, is the response of the waiting staff of the US in response to this.

            For the most part, waiters and waitresses are pretty angry about this whole thing for a variety of reasons: using God for not tipping, being a “jerk”, disrespectful, and the list goes on and on. Now most the reasons tend use an argument that boils down to the fact that tips is their source of income, included tip for large parties is down automatically and listed in the menus, and (this is the part I’m going to focus on) the fact that they are in a service industry and put forth a lot of effort to make it an enjoyable experience.

            Now, this is my opinion, so take what I am saying with a grain of salt, but if you provide a good service you deserve a good tip; however, and this is the part that no one seems to discuss, is what to tip when service is bad. Now I’ve looked around and asked people what they do when service is bad, but no one seems to have a decent or concise answer for what should be done. Do you still tip 15%? Do you tip less? Do you not tip at all? What?

            So I’m just going to describe some incidents that have happened to me, on both sides of the good/bad service spectrum and explain my reasoning and hopefully get people to give me a decent response for bad service.

            We will start positively, with a trip to IHOP on a Saturday morning around 2am with about five of my friends. We go to the same IHOP most times and get the same waitress so she knows us fairly well and what we generally get. So this night I just asked for coffee because I had to go back to work after this outing with my friends. During the course of the evening, our waitress made sure that all of our drinks were always full and made sure I had plenty of coffee all of the time. My check was about $2 for the coffee, so I tipped 100% ($2) for the service and because tipping coins just seems useless for a waitress. My other friends gave an average of about 20% on their checks for the evening. This is one of the best experiences I have had while dining out because we had a waitress who knew us, kept us well stocked, and did a great service for us.

            Flip side now, I went to Cheddars once (and have never been back) and had some pretty appalling service. I went on an odd day during non-peak hours, so the place was pretty dead for the most part, only a few other tables had people at them. During the course of the meal, our drinks were forgotten, one was never brought out even though we asked for a number of times, food was cold (I contribute this to the waitress and the chef), the drink we never got was still on the bill (I had it removed), and the waitress literally ignored me when I tried to flag her down to take my credit card (she looked me in the eye and I was making obvious signs that said “come here!” but instead kept chatting with her coworker). Now I was pretty ticked because it had taken so long to get drinks, and then the food, and then to have the drink we didn’t get show up on the bill, so when the check came I didn’t give any tip. After I had signed the bill, I went and spoke with the host, manager, person in charge and told him that I had awful service and that I was very disappointed. I made these choices because: 1. I feel that the waitress did not provide the service she was supposed to 2. The management needed to know so they might actually improve 3. The place was dead. During the lunch or dinner rushes, I can excuse a lot of things that happen, but not when there is no one there.

            Now let’s cheer up a bit with a slightly better story about my time at Fridays where I received average service. Nothing special, no real problems. No real story with it, but it will explain my usual tipping habits because I tip 16%, or double the tax. It makes the math easier, it’s above 15%, and everyone is happy for the most part.

            The second to last story is about going out for drinks because I turned 21 about a month ago and decided to go out by myself to get a few drinks in town. I found a bar that I liked, planted myself in one of the seats and stayed there for a few hours. I talked to the bartenders, people sitting around me, and had a pretty good time. Now, this is where I am fairly ignorant, but I got my check and I wasn’t sure whether I tipped or not. I tipped my usual 16% on it, and felt it was fairly worth it, but it made me less likely to go out drinking again just because of the initial cost of the drinks and then add tips for the evening. Anybody got usual habits for tipping bartenders?

            The final story, and this is the worst thing I’ve ever done and I feel slightly bad about it, but I went to BJs with a friend, again during non-peak hours and we just ordered waters and a dessert. It took an hour of reminding the waitress, flagging her down multiple times, and asking other wait staff, to actually get our waters. No one was there. It was freaking water. So by the time our dessert arrived, I was angry. We ate it and got the check. Now this is the worst thing I’ve ever done, but I tipped two cents and wrote on there “don’t make me wait an hour for water” and thus gave her my “two-cents” about what had happened. Again I talked to the person in charge and complained. I did this because I felt she needed to know directly that she really didn’t do her job and I didn’t feel she deserved her $1.50 tip on waters and a dessert.

            So I have done a number of bad tippings when I thought they were justified, and I have had amazing service that warranted great tips. I’ve had evening when I found hair in my food and just asked for a new plate of food, but the restaurant went a step further and had the manager come out, apologize, and take my meal off the bill. I’ve had a wrong plate brought out to me before and then the manager comes and gives us a free dessert (tipped extra on that because I knew that dessert had to be paid by someone and the waiter hadn’t done anything that terrible). But then I’ve been on the receiving end of crap service where they basically didn’t do their job, which is a service.

            To conclude, tip your wait staff, don’t blame not tipping on God, talk to the manager when you don’t get good service so they can hopefully improve, and does anyone know a decent amount to tip when service is bad? Seriously, I feel bad when I don’t tip or tip poorly because of service because I don’t know the right amount to give.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

This post is the final post that will primarily focus on my time in Italy and all of the introspection that I did while I was over there. To start off I would like to thank all of the people there who helped me with my roller coaster of emotions: Camelo, Dane, Justin, Matt, Brent, Britta, Sofia, and Cecilia. Thank you all for being there for me when I was not at my best and for bringing me up to my new best, I want to thank you all of all that you  guys have done for me. Next I would like to thank my teachers, Darryl and John, for being great professors and instructing me in ways that greatly helped me with my designs and growth as a future architect. I would like to thank our providers, Mirko and Eugenia, for being there to help us with adjusting and for giving us so many great opportunities. Emily and Inga, pretty much the only friends we made over there, thank you so much for being our friends, and for being my friend. And finally, I would like to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to be able to go off and travel and grow as a person this semester.

Now though, my final analysis of Italy. Italy is a country with a rich history, wonderful food, slightly lazy people, and the best coffee you will ever have. The city of Urbino was a great place to work and study in with its strong history and great atmosphere, even though it was a college town. We were able to use the city as a template for our designs and figure out what it all meant in a historical sense and in a modern way as well. The architecture is unparalleled there and I wish I could go back and live in those cities for the rest of my life, but I first need to learn Italian so I don’t piss off as many people. If any of you want to travel to Europe in general, I recommend Italy, but not just the tourist places that you will go to. Make sure you go to all of the less known cities and really delve into them, even if it’s just for a day. Do it. All of our day trips while we were there were just amazing, and were some of the best times that I had during my time in Italy.

During the course of trying to actually get down all of my thoughts and critiques on Italy, I have come to realize that it is nearly impossible to describe everything that I have done, experienced, seen, felt, and so on that I am unable to continue critiquing Italy. All I can say about my time is there is that it was the best time of my life, and I would love to go back for any reason and experience it again. It has changed me and returning to the states now I have come back a new and better person from everything, so much so that I will once again be able to call myself The Architect.

Now that I have been back in the states for a week, I have experienced a few things that I would like to talk about. The first is trying to find a new home, ie, trying to find an apartment in San Antonio so I don’t live out of my car while going to school. It has not been fun because even though I am a full time student, that means I am over-qualified to rent most of the apartments in the downtown area, meaning I have to keep going farther and farther out. I get really annoyed by that, that I am over-qualified just because I am a full time student, that my money is not good enough to get me a room somewhere so I can go to school more cheaply. No, instead I have to go farther out where the rent is higher and thus making the apartment less viable for me. So the apartment wars continue.

I have also taken up to seeing Tori on a fairly regular basis now, and actually went out on a real date with her, which was one of the best ones I have been on in the past five years. We’ve watched movies, talked for hours on end about anything and everything that comes up, and we don’t talk every day about nothing, which keeps our conversations interesting and the “spark” there as well. Though I don’t think that was ever a spark, I lit a wildfire at the first go. All I know is that regardless of what happens, I have one of my best friends back, I am the least nervous I have been in a decade, and I have smiled the most in the last week than I think I have in my entire life. I know that whether I am at my highest or my lowest, I am the most insufferable person to be around and interact with. My standards are the highest they’ve ever been, both for the people around me and for myself to live up to, and they are the greatest challenges I have ever given myself.

I am good. I am the Black Knight. I am The Exile. I am The Architect.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect