Adoption Update – Level One A

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I was telling Tabitha last night that if adoption were a video game, we have finally reached the first level. The tutorial and character creation process were the initial first steps:

  • PRIDE Training (40 hours of state-mandated classes)
  • FBI Database Fingerprinting
  • Fire Inspection
  • Health Inspection
  • Home Study

With our home study approved, we are now certified by the State of Texas to adopt. We can now put in interest requests through the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE); we can also now go to meet up events (where you can interact with kids available for adoption) as well as have our caseworker alert us to children available for adoption who are not listed online.

The adoption process is weird. A mixture of buying a home and speed dating. Level One A, of the adoption game, looks like:

  • Looking through pictures of children in an online database
  • Going to a meet up event
  • Our caseworker notifying us of a potential match

After initial inquiries are made, which includes our caseworker “selling” another caseworker on our family via telephone conference (home buying), we then enter the speed dating phase. Level One B includes:

  • Our family driving to whichever region the potential child is located in and then going on a day outing with the child.
  • The following weekend, a follow up over night visit (probably in a hotel room, especially if the child lives out of town) with the child.
  • The following weekend after that, a day trip/overnight visit again?
  • Eventually these visits shift from being on neutral ground to the child coming to our house.

The biggest hurdle of Level One A is going to be finding a match. We have to agree on the match; our caseworker has to agree on the match. Already, we are learning that:

  • It’s good to have a caseworker who says no and is looking out for our family (versus just trying to place a child and move on).
  • That descriptions of children, on TARE, do not include all the details. Sometimes even surprising our caseworker…
  • That there are not a lot of younger kids (ages 7 and younger) up for adoption online.

Bottom Line: We know that God has a child in mind for us. We just have to wait, trust, and talk, as a family, through the adoption process.

I’ll keep y’all updated. Maybe not so much in this Level One A stage… but more IF we make it to Level One B. Prayers are appreciated.

Bryan

Florence

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Out of Melbourne, Australia, developer Mountains has crafted an interactive story about love and life titled Florence. Florence features an exquisite mixture of stylized graphics, music, and creative gameplay mechanics. The end result is what I’d best call a Pixar Short Film experience in video game form.

My most favorite part of Florence were the way emotions were conveyed through gameplay. When Florence first meets her boyfriend, her conversations with him are presented as puzzles. A complete the puzzle to continue the conversation sort of thing. In the beginning of her relationship, the puzzles have more pieces/are more complex. As the relationship matures, there are not as many puzzle pieces to put together as communication has become easier.

I enjoyed my time with Florence. Even though I’d say that the story is slightly predictable, the execution is flawless. Check this out if you get a chance. Florence is short (30 minutes) and sweet.

5/5 – Florence is one of those video game experiences you need not miss.

Title: Florence
Developer: Mountains
Platforms: iOS and Android
Reviews on: iOS/iPad
MSRP: $2.99

INSIDE

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I could never quite figure out what was happening in Playdead’s INSIDE. Even as the end credits rolled, I wasn’t sure what I had just experienced (thank you, Wikipedia, for clearing things up for me). The world of INSIDE comes across as harsh and hostile. A world in which life doesn’t have much meaning. Yet by the end of the game, INSIDE flips the typical video game narrative. For once, I wasn’t the hero.

4/5 – INSIDE is worth the trip due to it’s fantastic ending. Just wait for it. Don’t spoil it.

Title: INSIDE
Developer: Playdead
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS
Reviews on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $15

The Final Station

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The Final Station embraces the storytelling confidence of The Last of Us. The world has gone to hell with hope riding on a single train of salvation.

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This train just keeps a rollin’

It’s rolling down the track

I am the silent conductor

And I can’t look back

Because I am outrunnin’

Death

Biological warfare waged by an alien race. The first invasion, which released gas-filled pods, has already occurred. Humanity invaded from within. Survival gone genetically awry.

The bomb lives

Notes of clarity rise above the government conspiracy-laden setting. The Oregon Trail-like train simulator portions allow you, the player, to make a difference. People you find, while out scavenging, become your passengers. You can feed them; you can provide medicine to help keep them alive. Life is your choice. But the train must keep rolling. No matter who dies.

The Final Station falls into a rhythm that sings on repeat:

  • Explore buildings
  • Scavenge for supplies
  • Rescue those you come across
  • Find the slip of paper with the keypad code (this unlocks the Blocker that keeps the train from moving)
  • Survive and eliminate those who have succumbed to the gas
  • Maintain individual train systems
  • Monitor the passengers

Gameplay loop excellence soon overstays its welcome like Steve Urkel. Enemy types and encounters become rote. Individual station stops become less about survival-filled exploration and more of a slog. Even the constant “what’s in the next room” tension eventually gives way by the fourth hour of gameplay. Text size issues further complicate the matter and make reading anything story related hard.

But the train just keeps a movin’. And by then you’ll want to stick it out to the end of the track.

Perhaps there is hope?

Are we there yet?

I loved The Final Station. The level design reminded me of the army bases I used to draw as a kid. Tunnels, secret bunkers, pathways into the darkness. Imagination allowed to run wild.

The Final Station is a fantastic effort with just enough neat ideas to keep me onboard. Good job, ya’ll!

wavesplinter5/5 – The Final Station fails to complete the warm The Last of Us hug it is trying to give. Despite that huggable failure, I love the game. Just keep this nightmare generator away from your kids, okay?

Wave SplinterTitle: The Final Station
Developer: Do My Best, Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $14.99

*The Final Station was reviewed using a code provided by Tinybuild.

The Aetherlight Bible NLT

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The Aetherlight Bible is tool, a companion piece meant to help players navigate through the fog. Presented in the New Living Translation, this Bible is easy to read for both children and adults. Built with the desire to connect players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance with Biblical truth, The Aetherlight Bible features:

  • A soft cover and overall size that feels sturdy and fantastic to hold
  • Inserted pages that tie in-game characters with their Biblical counterparts
  • A Dictionary/Concordance
  • A 365-Day Reading Plan
  • Words of Christ in scarlet
  • Footnotes, in the Old Testament, that point players towards Christ
  • And my favorite part, at the bottom of some pages, Aethasian sayings such as:

Build for others what you would want them to build for you.

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From the outside cover to the smallest details found inside, The Aetherlight Bible is a video game tie-in done right. Each page, from the watermarks to the quotes, show that much time and love went into the creation of this Bible.

However, I dislike how the page numbers are situated near the spine of the book. But, I realize that this formatting choice could force readers to actually learn the Books of the Bible. Clever.

I recommend this Bible to the hardcore players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance and to those not familiar with the game.

Parents, grandparents, this is the Bible you want to buy your kids/grandkids.

The Aetherlight Bible’s cover is inviting. Almost begging the reader to pick it up, read it, and embrace the adventure.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Inside: A relationship built on trust

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I really enjoyed this piece by my friend Josh, via Gamechurch. Can’t wait to play this on my PS4, August 23rd.

They’re looking for you, little boy. The masked men just released their hounds. You run. The bloodthirsty dogs close the distance between you and a cliff. Just as the dog’s teeth lunge for your foot, you jump off the cliff. Let me pause right here. You have no idea what’s at the bottom of this cliff. You’re completely at the whim of the game designer. Knowing there’s no other option, you simply trust the creator.

Read more here

Inside