Game Descriptions for GameHouse

Between April 2013 and August 2014, I wrote weekly copy for the game descriptions published on GameHouse.com (a division of RealNetworks). Here are a few samples from that work:

Royal Envoy – Campaign for the Crown Platinum Edition

Game Features

Play 63 levels of story mode and challenge yourself in Expert mode.
Explore a variety of hazardous adventures as you solve the eerie mystery.
Complete fun quests and unlock over 50 achievements.
Unlock and play 30 bonus levels.
Own the original soundtrack, and play like a pro with the full-game walkthrough.

Game Description

Swindler is challenging King to an electoral campaign. Who has the kingdom’s best interest at heart? Who will win the votes of the people? In Royal Envoy – Campaign for the Crown Platinum Edition, your time management skills and well-honed diplomacy are put to the test.

As Swindler tours the kingdom making a mess, demolishing towns and collecting high taxes, your campaign stands easily on your sincere efforts to repair his damage, build new buildings, and bring prosperity to the towns and cities of the kingdom. With your help, King can win the elections and defend truth and justice in the kingdom. Swindler’s black game will be revealed.

Bring calm and confidence back to the kingdom as the winning candidate when you play the free trial version of Royal Envoy – Campaign for the Crown Platinum Edition today! Better yet, purchase and download the full-unlimited version to enjoy exclusive content including 30 bonus levels, game walkthrough, gorgeous wallpapers, and the original soundtrack.

Origins – Elders of Time

Game Features

Follow the unfolding of an adventure story full of unexpected twists.
Challenge yourself with clever puzzles and mini-games.
Encounter characters who may help or hinder your progress.
Uncover an unexpected secret.

Game Description

Find the lost island and reveal its secrets to understand your father’s mysterious disappearance in Origins – Elders of Time, a hidden object adventure that will transport you to another time and place.

For 20 years, you have wondered about the mysterious disappearance of your father, and now it’s time to investigate. What clues are left for you to follow? Who can you trust? You must be curious and clever all at once while you overcome challenges and puzzles that stand in your way.

Let your quick wit and imagination lead the way when you play the free trial version or download the full version of Origins – Elders of Time today!

The Path of Hercules

Game Features

Play over 60 varied match 3 and hidden object levels.
Enjoy the retelling of the ancient mythology of Hercules’ great feats.
Explore 7 renowned cities.
Engage with mythological beasts and creatures to become the hero of ancient Greece.

Game Description

Bravely follow the path of a legendary Greek hero to save the Peloponnese on a quest from the pages of ancient mythology in The Path of Hercules. In a unique mix of match 3, hidden object, and adventure gameplay, travel through the lands of ancient Greece and reassemble hidden antiquities to be returned to the mighty gods of Olympus. Restore historic landmarks and ruins as you experience the tales of power and heroics performed by the great Hercules.

The magnificent lands of the Peloponnesian Empire are in disarray. The citizens have become careless in their patronage and respect for the Olympic gods. Consequently, the Peloponnese have fallen from favor and the gods have neglected their abundance and happiness in return.

Restore 7 ancient artifacts to appease the gods, and revive the empire from destruction. Experience the courage and might of Hercules as your own when you try the free trial version of The Path of Hercules or download the full-unlimited version today!

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How to Track Santa

How to Track Santa Claus on Google Maps is available on eHow.com.

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Portfolio, 2005-2013.

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Web Copy for New Business

Neal Analytics was just getting started when I was engaged to write the copy for their online presence.

Web Copy for Neal Analytics

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How to Change Your Subconscious Beliefs

How to Change Your Subconscious Beliefs is available on eHow.com.

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Portfolio, 2005-2013.

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Running an Interactive Web Videoconference

Running an interactive videoconference has some struggles in common with running any meeting. However, it also has a few unique challenges.

Before the videoconference begins, decide which mode to use: voice-activated switching (VAS) or continuous presence (CP) mode. The main challenge with VAS mode is in reducing superfluous noise. When the videoconferencing application is triggered by a sound, the view is automatically switched to the location originating that sound. Coughs, sneezes, paper rustling, and the like can be a hazard. Strict microphone muting rules are most useful for a productive videoconference in VAS mode.

In CP mode, images from each location are presented on-screen simultaneously. While this allows participants to see all other participants and their presentation materials, it does reduce the size of the images. The reduced image size is really only an issue with presentations of detailed data. If you do have detailed data to share and you must use CP mode, be sure to share the data via e-mail or another method before the meeting.

If you start the meeting in CP mode, and then decide you really need to be in VAS mode, it’s best to disconnect and end the session all together. Begin a new session in VAS mode, and resume the meeting where you left off.

The flow of the interactive videoconference should follow this path:

  1. Arrive on location early and test the equipment and software. If you are able to see the other locations, create a map or location list and note the names of participants or groups at each location during role call.
  2. To open the meeting, welcome everyone, state your name and location, and then have everyone else state their names and locations in turn. If there are a large number of participants, you may want one speaker from each location to identify the group and location, rather than having each individual make an introduction. If you are using VAS mode, this is also a good time to remind the groups to employ the microphone mute when they are not speaking.
  3. Review the agenda and let participants know how the schedule will unfold and how interaction will be handled. Will you be calling on groups or individuals after bringing up a topic, or should people just jump in when they have a thought to share?
  4. Begin the meeting with agenda item number one. Move through agenda items, encouraging participation from all locations. This is where the location list comes in handy — call out groups or individuals by name for a response when necessary.
  5. To conclude the meeting, summarize decisions, key points, and action items.
  6. Thank everyone for participating, and tell them how to disconnect if there are special instructions.

By changing pace and types of activities and by building in breaks, you’ll keep videoconference participants refreshed and engaged. Create a scenario that feels like you’re all in the same room. Recruit groups and individuals specifically to participate, dissolving the geographic barriers for a productive and smooth interaction.

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Portfolio, 2005-2013.

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Point-to-Point vs. Multipoint Web Videoconferencing

Web videoconferencing is a popular and convenient technology that enables people in remote locations to come together in face-to-face, voice-to-voice meetings without the challenges of travel. Physical materials and presentations are shared just as if the meeting’s participants were in the same room. As bandwidth availability continues to grow and the costs related to videoconferencing continue to shrink, the choice to meet via streaming live video becomes more prevalent.

At base, there are two different types of videoconferencing: point-to-point and multipoint. The difference is in the logistics or number of locations participating in the meeting. The simplest configuration is the point-to-point videoconference. Two locations are simultaneously connected over the Internet. Given enough bandwidth, participants can exchange audio and visual content in real time. Each location may have one or more people present, but each location is considered one point on the network.

A multipoint videoconference is more complex. In this case, more than two locations are simultaneously connected over the Internet with the ability to exchange audio and visual content in real time. The complexity with multipoint videoconferencing is twofold. More bandwidth is required and you need to decide what type of videoconferencing session you want to have.

Most multipoint videoconference data is exchanged and managed with a bridge or multipoint control unit (MCU). An MCU is usually built into the videoconferencing software or application and makes for smoother audio and video streaming.

The management of audio and video streaming can be either centralized at the host location or decentralized, in which case each location engages in a direct exchange of audio and visual content. The benefit of decentralization is generally the delivery of higher quality content. This arrangement with no control point managing or relaying the content is also known as an ad-hoc connection and is the most popular choice.

Another decision to be made with a multipoint videoconference is whether to use continuous presence (CP) or voice-activated switching (VAS) mode for the pickup and delivery of streaming content. With CP mode, all locations are seen and heard simultaneously. The video is represented in a split-screen format so that each location sees all the other locations presented in a grid-type framework on a single screen or monitor.

With VAS mode, all locations see only the location of the speaker, and the view changes as the speaker changes. The functionality of VAS moves the video pickup to the location from which audio emanates. This switching can be ideal for presentations of detailed data in which a larger visual is important rather than the compressed visual in the split-screen of CP mode.

In a nutshell, if you have more than two locations participating in your virtual meeting, you will be engaging in a multipoint videoconference. On the other hand, you may be familiar with the point-to-point version if you’ve used the audio and video features of Skype, for example, to call your cousin in Karachi.

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Portfolio, 2005-2013.

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Marketing Email: Everybody’s Doing It

I had the opportunity to do some ghostwriting for an international business owner. One of the projects was a collection of short e-mail messages as part of an ongoing marketing campaign. The company provides outsourcing services.

JPierceMarketingSample

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Portfolio, 2005-2013.

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Content Identification and Redistribution

As a member of the Strategy and Analytics – Technology Policy Team at WaMu, I worked with the Reference Architecture Team, Architecture Steering Committee, and various executives in the execution of a process improvement project. One of the main goals was to enhance the governance structure and improve accessibility of a range of governance documents. I created Content Identification and Redistribution Document to describe the process of content analysis and identification, and the plan for redistribution within the new organizational structure.

WaMuContentIdRedist

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Writing Portfolio, 2005-2011.

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Telling Stories

PD is a good friend of mine, and he’s a great addition to any social event. Having witnessed an amazing international adventure or two, he always has a tale to tell in his inimitable and entertaining fashion. Because he’s such an engaging storyteller, I suggested that he should write short stories retelling his adventures.

One adventure that he likes to recount is the time a group of us were lost in the desert in the Sultanate of Oman. We were on our way to see the green turtles lay their eggs when we lost our bearings and didn’t know which way was toward the ocean. Out of nowhere came a white Toyota truck, emerging from the horizon of a sand drift. Frantically, we waved  down the driver, and in our best Arabic—a vocabulary of about seven pleasantries and salutations—we told him we were lost. A blank stare was his reply.

And here PD took the lead. Armed with only a stick, a smooth patch of sand, and his command of charades, he performed great theatre with representations of fish, turtles, ocean waves, and sand dunes. A spark of recognition entered the Toyota driver’s eye. He understood that we needed to find the ocean.

Not only did we regain the right path, but also we gained a great story and concluded our detour by shaking hands with the laughing Omani. His smile revealed only two teeth, which added to our amusement. And that was just the beginning of that three-day adventure.

The next time we were at a social gathering where PD captured the group’s attention with his storytelling, I ventured my suggestion once again. He was still not taking me seriously, so later I sent him an interview-style email to give him the opportunity to reminisce over the past 30-plus years of working overseas.

The stories he returned were not about the work he had done, but about people he had met, places he had been, and events he had experienced. At the end of his reminiscence, he closed the email with the claim that he would love to write his stories but he was afraid. He lacked confidence about his writing and his spelling, so no matter whether he could write or not, it would just have to wait.

I’m not sure what he’s waiting for. I told him that good writers know they need an editor whose job it is to help out with the spelling and the grammar and the tightening of the prose. He managed to communicate in the desert, and I told him that’s the goal. “Put pen to paper and write,” I said.

Are your fears holding you back? Are your doubts and lack of confidence keeping your pen dry? Free yourself. Express yourself. Tell your stories. Worry about the clean-up later. The spelling and the grammar and the word choice and the clarity of the sentences—these are things that can come in time. The first task is to get the message out. Take the first task first—freely. Then come back and perfect.

I’d like to thank all our contributors for another bold and successful year of sharing support for the writing community and providing free resources to help us all develop our craft. As Rowdy Rhodes says in his article of reflection, “I wish you and yours all the best during the coming year, and thank you, one and all.” Happy birthday to IN!

It’s all here to support you in your writing goals. Don’t forget, the first task is the writing—however it comes out. And here’s a bonus: it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions.

First published by Inkwell Newswatch (IN)

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Writing Portfolio, 2005-2011.

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Book Review: No Plot? No Problem?

Full Title: No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel In 30 Days
Author: Chris Baty
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-8118-45052

Are you up for the challenge offered by National Novel Writing Month? Although NaNoWriMo (pronounced “NAN-no WRY-Mo”), as it’s affectionately called, traditionally takes place each November since 1999, you can take the NaNoWriMo challenge any month you like.

In No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty — NaNoWriMo founder — walks you through exactly why you should take the challenge and how to live through it to be the high-velocity, novel-writing champion that you can be. In 172 pages, Baty’s chummy and conversational style revs you up, coaches you through the cramps, and cheers you to the finish line.

If this is all beginning to sound a bit like the trappings of a marathon, consider yourself very perceptive. That’s exactly what it’s like. The difference is that this marathon is accomplished over the course of 50,000 words, and your fingers carry you and your imagination across that threshold of achievement.

The Introduction describes the origins and history of NaNoWriMo, laying the groundwork and philosophy for subscribing to what some might call noveling madness. Section One, Gearing Up For Your Writing Adventure, prepares you — gives you the mental training and establishes the mindset — for your word marathon. Here you learn strategies for dealing with the realities of time constraints and garnering support from friends and family. Consideration of places to write, things to write with, and magical milestone incentives are presented.

Section Two, Write Here! Write Now!, gives a week-by-week overview of what Baty calls “bashing out your book.” In each of four chapters — one for each week of the 30-day month — Baty accompanies you on that particular phase of the journey. He’s been there; he knows intimately of the highs and the lows, the care-freedom and the straight-jacket insanity. But have no fear; Baty and millions like him have gone before you and have many tales to show for it. You will live through this too, and you will have your own novel tale to show for it in the end.

There’s no dawdling here. If you are ready to write that novel you’ve always said you would — even if you haven’t the slightest idea what you might write about — this is the book you’ve been waiting for. Challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. There’s nothing else like it to get that writing done. And there is no other book that can get you through it like No Plot? No Problem!

First published by Inkwell Newswatch (IN)
Under the nom de plume Penelope Jensen

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Writing Portfolio, 2005-2011.

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