The Freebie Master List

Now seriously, who doesn’t want free things, right? For me, it’s always exciting to discover free things and tinker around to see whether they work or not – I can go hours and hours trying to test and learn a free website/game/feature and eventually make up my mind whether it’s for keeps. You’ve probably seen most of the good games I’ve played (and had the time to write about) on this blog, but I wanted to do some justice to a few others that have changed my world over the past few years.

If you do end up using anything on this list, then awesome! Sound off in the comments below 😉

Note: This list would probably see a few changes now and then since I’m always trying out stuff!

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D E S I G N L O V E F E S T
I am a total sucker for their free downloadable wallpapers – they are GORGEOUS! They give out new wallpapers almost every month so you can change it up as often as you like.

Canva
I’ve been using Canva for free for YEARS, and I love how straightforward and easy it is for non-designers to create something artistic and colorful. I admit I’ve used their template designs time and time again for quick posters and blog materials! I’ve also tried their premium version, but if you just need something for personal use, the free version is also excellent.

Freepik
Probably not surprisingly new for some people but Freepik has been a life saver for more than one occasion, and I owe it my life.

Pexels
I haven’t used and searched the site extensively as the others on this list, but they do have lovely stock photos with Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License, so they’re completely free to use!

 

2

Sketch Simplification
Long story short – this takes your rough sketches and creates a clean, digital line art from it. You can read more about the creators and view some samples from this article.

PaintsChainer
I have a love-hate relationship with PaintsChainer, but it’s always fun to see how this website will add color to your line art! I also love the fact how most artworks turn out painted like a washed out watercolor, a style that I like. Read more and view samples from this article.

 

3

Grammarly
I swear that Grammarly is one of the best writing companions I’ve ever seen! I love it so much that I gave in and got the premium version, but the free one is also just as good. You can also try out their add-ons and extensions, which I’ve found are very helpful in writing emails and comments on websites.

NoodleTools Express
If you need to have something cited in MLA, APA or Chicago, this free tool can help you out – minus the annoying ads!

 

4

Toby
Toby is the BEST Chrome extension I’ve ever used in my whole life. You need to look into this if you’re the kind of person who opens many tabs and gets a little lost along the way.

 

5

Instafreebie
I’m an absolute advocate of going to your local library, but if you want an adventure and try out a few independent authors, getting free e-books from Instafreebie is your best bet.

 

6

vgperson
I owe vgperson my heartfelt gratitude for introducing me to the world of RPG Maker horror games! You can visit their site for some well-known classics such as Ib, The Witch’s House, Mad Father, and Misao.

Steam
You can never underestimate the free games available on Steam! Some notable ones that I’ve recommended before are Eternal Senia and Emily is Away.

rpgmaker.net
If you love the RPG Maker platform or just starting out to see its’ wonders, then it would be worth your time to scroll down to see upcoming or finished projects from aspiring game makers and enthusiasts worldwide. I discovered Dreaming Mary through this site, during its early stages of development!

 

7

rabbit
I love how you can watch anything on the web with anyone using rabbit! Recently, I’ve also been using this to share my current browser to friends! The only thing to be wary of using this site is that you have to have good internet connection on both sides for it to work.

Ubuntu
I’ve mentioned that I love tinkering, and being on Ubuntu just satisfies that side of me. I used to have it as my primary OS, and trying to customize it to your needs is amazing! They also have an amazing community and FAQ section so that you won’t get too lost either.

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08/11: Post BTS (Experience and Takeaways)

BTS2017-August-Group

Earlier this year, I was invited to spend a week in Arizona to be a participant in Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough to Success 2017 by an aunt of mine. I didn’t really have a plan — I had no job, no means of earning money to get a plane ticket — but I said ‘yes’ anyway, hoping for the best. Even until now, looking back, it’s funny how things just meshed together, and by last week I was hauling my small suitcase to SFO ready for my first solo out-of-state trip.

Now I’m not really a stranger to the whole workshop: my aunt is a certified Canfield trainer and I’ve had plenty of experience in assisting her in her own workshops and training back in the Philippines, but what definitely threatened to pop my comfort bubble was everyone else who was in the hall with me.

I’m not going to lie: on the first day, I was calling my mom (who probably just rolled out of bed), telling her I was ready to abandon ship. I had been standing in one corner of the lobby, looking at everyone older and younger than me happily chatting away, while I was wallowing in my shyness. Things started to get better tho, and by day 5, I was happily sharing my own problems (yes, problems) with other people, hoping for their help and guidance.

A few things that I learned from those five days:

1. Everyone has their own baggage      The room was filled with completely different people, from all ages and from all parts of the world, but it was comforting to know that everyone had something holding them back. It’s true when they say that you just can’t judge anyone because you’ve never walked in their shoes — everyone I met had something holding them back, and it was relieving to be able to talk about anything to people who were willing to listen and understand.

2. You get further with a team than doing things on your own     I’m not very much all about teamwork, but BTS made me realize that you could probably get to your goals faster when you involve other people or get help from those who are willing to! With that said, I’ll probably post my goals list here someday, for anyone who would like to pitch in or dream (and work) with me!

3. Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable    Like I mentioned earlier, at first I just really wanted to crawl back to my hotel room and hide under the covers. I was never too good at communicating with people and striking up conversations, but the more I forced myself to respond to every “hello, how are you?” (which is still a huge cultural difference for me), talking to people and getting to know them seemed less and less hard as the days went by. You just really have to sit and practice on things until it becomes second nature.

Of course, there were still a lot of things Jack discussed, but these were the points that stuck to me the most. I haven’t really sat down and thought about my next steps (I had work the very next day I arrived and even four days after, I have yet to unpack my bag properly), but I have a more positive feeling about going after my goals!

Notes:
For anyone who’s interested to know more about the Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough to Success, click here

For those in the Philippines who would like to bring the training to their own companies or communities, you may contact Penny Bongato (Certified Canfield Methodology Trainer) at penny@pennybongato.com or check her official Facebook page here

 

6/25: Adult ver. 2

Has it been that long since I last sat down and wrote something personal on here? Wow. Just wow.

But seriously though, it’s been such a crazy three months for me, I don’t know where to begin. March felt like a turning point for me; I got accepted in a job that was surprisingly fun, I was rolling around in volunteer work, side by side with trying to apply for school in a course I thought was interesting.

Fast forward to present day Shing, I’m still going back and forth between working my part-time job downtown and juggling schoolwork for the summer. In between, I’ve also gotten into the habit of reading for fun and writing a few pieces for bookbed.org – so far, I’ve only gotten two out, but I’m hoping I could contribute more.

It sounds way corny, but the thought of doing all these things made me think that I’ve reached a certain level of adult-ness. It’s still not as big as moving out or anything, but it does make you feel like you’ve gotten a bit more control over this whole adult-ing thing than you did a month ago. It feels like finally, your life is headed somewhere, even if you’re still not sure where.

Here’s a list of stuff I’m looking forward to:

  1. I’m going to a seminar I’ve been looking forward to since January
  2. Fall classes — I can only still take one class but I’m always excited to go
  3. Saving up — sounds boring but damn, does it feel good to say that I do have something in the bank
  4. Getting my driver’s license (hopefully in one take)
  5. I’m learning how to dress properly for work. I’m baduy so this is priority #1.

Q1 and Q2 might not have been the best but things are surely looking up for Q3!

 

 

Post-Game Feels: Emily is Away

Emily is Away

Emily is Away is an interactive adventure-ish game by Kyle Seeley

How do I even begin describing Emily is Away? It’s only been 15 minutes since I’ve finished two whole playthroughs and I’m still reeling from the after-feels.

Starting with the technical side, Emily is Away is an interactive, simulation type of game. If you’re just as old as me, you’ll be brought back to the old Windows XP looking (albeit pixelized version) messenger which feels real nostalgic. It even comes complete with all the keyboard typing sounds that you’ve probably heard while chatting up your friends in the good old days, and it’s pretty cool!

Emily1Let that old-school style sink in.

Like any other chat-simulation, gameplay is pretty straightforward: you pick from a pre-determined set of responses and the story continues based on your answer. What I like about this is it really goes out and make you type on your keyboard to make words appear on the chatbox before hitting send — a little extra work, yes, but this element really does tie up to the whole experience of playing the game. It doesn’t leave you hanging either and tells you when you’ve made a critical decision in the story.

emily choices
“Emily will remember that”

But what probably shines the most is the plot itself. As I’ve said, I’ve done two playthroughs of the game (each round lasted 20-30 minutes, pretty quick) but I still haven’t gotten close to my chosen ideal ending, WHICH DOES NOT EXIST (according to forums). It’s just so absolutely frustrating to see my character all over the place and I couldn’t do a thing about it *cries*.

Either way, everything is so reminiscent of the past — not just because of the platform used, but also how the whole story showcases the kind of love you’d have probably encountered in high school or college in the 90’s (or early 2000’s). It’s like taking a trip down to memory lane~

Emily is Away is exactly what you need if you’re looking to re-live more-than-a-decade-ago feels. Even if you’ll just breeze through the game, I promise that it will not disappoint!

They just came out with a second game as well (just this May 2017!) and I’m super pumped to see that one through~

Check out Emily is Away on Steam here.

PS: Had to figure out how to make GIFs for this post. Yay or Nay? 🙂

3/17: Social Media Break

Right. This was bound to happen anyway sooner or later, so I might as well talk about my own thoughts about this whole social media detox thing and why I’m doing this for the nth time in my life. True, you can always look up so many articles on Google about this whole phenomenon (and you might have experienced the same thing one too many times), but I’d want to be honest for once about this.

Do I think that it’s ironic how social media is pushing me away from being social? Yes. Yes, I do. The truth is that when you’re still lost in your 20-somethings and you see almost everyone else live their lives glamorously, it’s hard to take. You can’t technically imagine them anymore as the girl who sat beside you in class years ago, or the boy you were grouped with for a project. They’re already at the top of their game (and who knows how far they’ll go), and you’re still you.

For me, this is how the irony begins. You start to not talk to anyone else but your close friends. You refuse to go to reunions in fear of seeing how far the gap is between your peers. The worst part of it is, instead of cheering people on for their little accomplishments, you do the opposite in your head and criticize them for it.

This is definitely unsightly and ugly. To me, the whole thing goes beyond the self-comparison issue. Just because I’m bitter, it shouldn’t mean I can go and diss other’s hard work. This definitely goes against my personal belief of being a supportive friend. Once I got to the point of thinking negatively about others, I knew I needed to stop.  Am I a coward for doing so? Shamefully, I admit I am.

So what happens during a social media detox? Realistically, and more than any feel-good advice article, I’d just really like to cement the following ideas back in my head:

1) Things DO happen but in their own time. But that also doesn’t mean you can sit around lazily doing nothing either (read: patience and hard work)

There are some people who you can consider very lucky in life and get to where they are faster because of where they were, to begin with (read this comic by Toby Morris entitled “On a Plate” – seriously, so much feels for this one) but most of them also had to work hard for what they wanted to do. Who knows how many hours they put in before getting that big break?

Exactly. And the same can happen for me too.

2) Make ‘self-love’ the reason and the motivation.

I know this doesn’t make sense, but let me clarify. There are many reasons why I could motivate myself to do something — I could save myself from embarrassment next time I’m dragged into a reunion, or I could do it to please other people (if you’re a people pleaser, that is) or to prove other people wrong. But if all my failures taught me anything, it’s that I didn’t put myself in the equation.

I realized that unless it was something I wanted for myself, the whole plan (of getting thinner, getting a better job, etc.) would be set-up for failure.

Concorde’s “Sons” music video drives the point nicely (and will forever haunt my mind).

I don’t know how long this detox will be (or more like how long I can hold out for) but one thing’s for sure: social media has brought out the worst in us. Or well, in me.

3/6: Being Mindful of Bad Habits

Although it may seem like I’m always up on my feet and running, I’ve just recently started noticing the habits that I’ve formed that could easily fall under time-wasters, and that (according to my mom) makes me look like a really lazy person.

In my defense, I’m not lazy. If there was anything I put my mind into doing, I’d go at it until I saw it through. But I do admit to procrastinating at times and waiting for the last minute to get up and start the day. After a few days of self-reflection and being mindful of the regular things I do on a day-to-day basis, here are my observations:

  1. I snuggle in bed until late morning. Literally, if I know it’s too early to get up, I would go back to sleep.
  2. When I do wake up, the first thing I do is check manga and read new updates
  3. I don’t eat breakfast
  4. I start personal projects and work at around 10 pm
  5. In the end, I sleep at 2-3 in the morning

Alright, I’m guilty. I’m absolutely guilty for living the unhealthy lifestyle.

So I know the list seems like a fairly normal timeline, but I’ve realized that these things do seem to have a domino effect on each other, like a viscous cycle that you can’t break unless you change something. I’ve also read somewhere that successful people start the day early, so I’m sure my daily routine isn’t a stepping stone to success.

To counter these newly formed bad habits (it wasn’t until recently that I’ve started doing these, I swear), here are the things I thought of reforming:

  1. Wake up the first time around (aka no snoozing)
  2. Not touching my cell phone first thing in the morning. It can wait
  3. Make toast. It will only take 10 minutes to prepare and eat anyway.
  4. Be a burrito in bed on or before 12 mn

Hopefully, this works! I’ve read somewhere that it will take 21 days to form new habits, so I bet this’ll take a while~

Post-Game Feels: コクラセ (Kokurase)

kokurase

Kokurase is an RPG game published by Degica Games

Steam never ceases to surprise me every time I try to dig up for free RPG games! Coming across the free first episode, I was completely taken by the fun pop-candy vibe it gave off. Of course, it felt like a refreshing break from my usual genre of games (read: the sad and scary kind), but it houses more than spunk to make you buy the next two episodes.

First thing’s first — have you seen the art? It is GORGEOUS! Enough said.

kokurase-3

Apart from that, what’s also intriguing enough is the premise of the game: Kokurase is a secret team in Hanaseto High School composed of four students. Their mission is simple, but it sets the whole game into motion: it’s to help clients profess their love! I’ve finished playing all three episodes and let me tell you, the story always ALWAYS takes an unexpected turn. Genji, the leader of the Kokurase, never seems to reveal his true motives and you’re left to follow specific instructions. Everything plays out unexpectedly at the end and you’re left feeling dumbfounded, asking yourself the question “Was this the plan all along?”.

It also has a kicker soundtrack playing in the background with every character having a special theme of his/her own. My favorite would be Riho’s theme and Kotarou Hino’s second theme from Episode 3! They’re more of the upbeat tunes, but there are others who are either on the mellow side (Meg’s) or of the mysterious kind (like Genji’s). Either way, you think about it, the character theme songs give a big helping hand in setting the ambiance of the story and it’s very on point. I wouldn’t mind buying the soundtrack, to be honest.

My favorite aspect of the game is really the system itself. In order to proceed to the next scene, you have to switch and toggle to another character! It makes a lot of sense story-wise because each character has their own mini-mission to complete, but the system itself is pretty different than your usual straight to the point RPG game. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a manual switching system like this before, especially when it’s very much integrated into the gameplay.

kokurase-2

Another is how puzzles (or missions) are usually solved not by items but by Key Phrases said throughout the story. Although they’re usually logged in as special phrases — and you’ll see them said in a green text, you’ll have to pay attention to the story and the dialogue to make sense of everything during crunch time! I haven’t perfected it myself to create combos (which I believe unlocks special extra after the episode is done) but you’ll know when you’ve got it right or wrong based on the character’s responses after.

kokurase-5

One feature that I think newbies would like the most is how the screen shows your next move. Located on the upper right corner, this handy feature helped me on many occasions whenever I got stuck in the middle of the game. It also turns orange when the task is done (along with your character being immovable), letting you know when to make a character switch.

kokurase-4

In a nutshell, Kokurase has a solid storyline, with a great soundtrack and gaming system that will keep you guessing what will happen next! I totally enjoyed playing this game, enough to warrant the purchase of the next two episodes! The game isn’t done either and I’m very much looking forward to the next installments. It gets better and better too with each episode too!

Did I mention that the game is also a Nico Nico Indie Game Fest Award Winner? That speaks volumes about how wonderful the game is! You can try out the first episode for free so you can judge it for yourself.

Check out the official game website here.
Check out the game on Steam.

For those who’ve decided to buy the next two episodes as a DLC, here’s a quick rundown on how to play the next two episode respectively:

On your Steam page, go to Library > Games > right click on Kokurase – Episode 1 and click “Play Episode 2” or “Play Episode 3”

how-to-launch

Took me a long time to figure this one out. You’re welcome!