Never Alone is a good documentary, bad game

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Source- Smithsonian FB


It’s interesting seeing a game based on the Inupiat, a culture that is almost never represented in most media, let alone games. Never Alone tries to show off a new culture while combining a co-op puzzle platformer for people to enjoy. Yet is it worth braving the cold for this game?

The best part of Never Alone actually has nothing to do with the game itself. Bundled with the game is a documentary about the Inupiat. Unlocked in pieces by finding hidden owls scattered around the game, I highly recommend playing Never Alone with a guide open specifically to find all of these in one go. The documentary is interesting and offers a lot of insight into the Inupiat life. The game’s story is also worth paying attention to. After her village is hit by an endless blizzard, a young girl named Nuna sets off to find the cause. Along the way she meets up with an arctic fox, who seems to have a mysterious connection to the spirits, and the Manhunter, who is destroying villages in search of something. The story is a heartfelt tale that further made me care about an otherwise ignored culture.

The problem is that Never Alone is also a puzzle platformer and this is where it completely falls apart. At all times both Nuna and Fox are on the screen, and you can either play the game co-op with one player controlling each character (which I highly recommend) or can switch between them by pressing a button. Each character has their own skills. Nuna can push objects around, climb ropes, and can later get a bola to throw at objects to break them. On the other hand, Fox can crawl into small areas, jump off of walls, and make spirit platforms visible by standing near them. Both characters share the same basic problem: the platforming is clunky, sluggish, and sometimes feels flat out non-responsive. Nuna’s bola feels extremely difficult to aim with any sort of accuracy, while Fox’s ability to detect platforms is never clearly visualized and trying to figure out if there’s a platform for him to discover, or where he can go before it vanishes, is basically trial-and-error.

I recommended playing the game co-op because the AI is simply not up to snuff. At various points of the game the character I was not playing as would fall off of ledges, miss jumps, run into traps, and find new and unique ways to get killed. Worse, every time they died I had to restart at a checkpoint. Many of the restarts were simply out of my control because my AI buddy decided to run off another cliff. The AI also can’t solve puzzles. I had to switch between the two to make sure anything was getting done. This was more frustrating than it needed to be, with levels often feeling like they took forever to complete

The problems just kept adding up the further in the game I went. Chase scenes seemed to require far more precision platforming than the game could manage. Blizzard wind was a common mechanic, but it often felt unpredictable and I would be caught jumping when a random wind blew through. I don’t want to spoil the end game much, but one character gains a whole new set of skills at the end that are basically unusable thanks to poor controls. It seems like the longer I played Never Alone the greater the temptation to just skip playing the game and just watch that documentary on Youtube or something. Thankfully the game is on the short end, I was finished with Never Alone in about 4 hours.

Never Alone’s story, both of the game and of the documentary, are nice interesting pieces that tell things from a very unique standpoint. Yet I could never recommend actually buying Never Alone as the game suffers from way too many problems. It’s a shame that the game is a disaster, but hopefully in the future we’ll see more “documentary games” on obscure cultures.

Clinton losing County College of Morris clout



With the New Jersey primaries coming up in June and less than half the primary contests left ahead, the County College of Morris students are beginning to cement their political leanings for this election cycle. Having remained largely undecided, many students are now beginning to watch the race closely to help shape their decisions. While many students are wrestling with indecision, one sentiment seems to be echoed among them: a growing sense of disillusionment toward Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I thought before that I was going with Hillary but a couple things came up that I saw recently,” said Helen Burke, a human services student, “I’m questioning my [support].”

Largely disregarded due to being one of the last primaries held, the New Jersey primary is often considered to be irrelevant to the outcome of the race. However, this year the New Jersey primary could have a larger impact. Having raised $42 million in donations in February and $44 million in donations in March, Sen. Bernie Sanders has expressed his intention to continue his campaign despite suffering heavy losses during the March 15 contests. With such a divisive and heated race, it is conceivable that both candidates will press on until June, granting the New Jersey primaries a greater significance than in recent years.

Shaken by recent statements made by the Clinton campaign, Burke said that she wants to see a candidate who will tackle the growing issue of poverty. Recent statewide funding cuts trouble Burke, who is a social worker and has seen the impact of conservative policies first-hand. As a registered Democrat, Burke said that she will “absolutely” be voting in the New Jersey primaries.

“From what I’ve read, Hillary is very reflective; copy-cat like,” said Jason Driesse, a communication student and ex-Republican who has become an Independent voter. “She’s trying to win people over…by saying what they want to hear.”

Citing recent accusations that Clinton is mimicking the rhetoric used by the Sanders campaign, Driesse said he does not trust Clinton’s promises and that he’s “not a fan” of Hillary.

“The one thing that I do like is that she already has experience,” said Alejandro Garavito, a biology student and registered Republican. Stating his interest in Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, Garavito intends to vote in the New Jersey Republican primary.

Garavito said he was concerned about Clinton’s mixed and occasionally contradictory stances on issues.

“She’s very on and off,” said Garavito.

Students attempt to increase privacy online, in homes

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Americans are growing increasingly wary of sharing private information with companies, according to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan survey group. At the County College of Morris, some students have stopped sharing information altogether.

“I deleted all my social media,” said Jessica Wolff, an interior design major at CCM. “I don’t want everyone seeing my personal photos.”

Wolff is not the only one to feel this way. According to Pew, 51 percent of adults said they would not sign up for a free social media that required them to use real photos and names while monitoring their activity on the site to personalize ads.

While posed as a hypothetical question, Google does something very similar. When users are logged into Google accounts while using the search engine, that information is then used to present them with ads relevant to their habits.

“That’s weird,” Wolff said. “It makes me feel like I’m being watched.”

Being watched does not stop once offline. But that does not bother some students. James Perry, a criminal justice major, recently visited England where camera surveillance is common.

“There’s cameras everywhere there,” Perry said. “It made me feel a lot safer walking down the street at night, I knew people were watching in case anything happened.”

While the United States is not to the same level of surveillance as England, advances in technology have created surveillance where it never was before. Nest is behind a new line of smart thermostats, which monitor energy usage and homeowner movement in the house to provide individuals with the most efficient temperature control possible. It can also be set to adjust based on peak usage times to aid with a lower electricity bill.

According to Pew, fifty-five percent of adults said that was unacceptable. The largest concern seemed to be that people would use this to determine when no one was home and therefore when the house would be easiest to burgle.

“That’s invasive,” said Olivia Rasmussen, a nursing major at CCM. “I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but I wouldn’t feel safe if my movements in my own house were being watched.”

More adults over the age of 50 said that the thermostat would be unacceptable compared to adults under 50, according to Pew.

“I feel like people think just because we’re millennials that we’re going to be okay with every new technology,” Rasmussen said. “But I need to trust it, and some of these I just don’t.”

Imagine Home makes long distance adoptions an option


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It was the dead of winter. On a bitter cold night, she heard a kitten crying from outside. She looked out her window and saw the snow blanketing the ground and was starting to pile up. But she saw no kitten. The painful cries continued throughout the night. She decided to check one last time before bed. When she looked out the window this time, she saw a kitten shivering and crying to stay warm.

“I could not keep him, nor could I find anyone local to adopt him,” said Kelly Radcliff, transport director of Imagine Home. “So I put his picture on Facebook and found an adopter in New York. He had to travel over 800 miles to get there. Many of the larger cities have several kill shelters and not enough people in that city with the ability to adopt…You can see that before there was long-distance adoption, many cats were killed.”

Imagine Home is an all-volunteer organization created and maintained on Facebook. The group works hard to make the process of long distance adoption an option for many people.

The group was started in Nov 2012 and has grown on social media. The organization currently holds 11,244 members and approximately 2,000 active volunteers, fosters and drivers. Imagine Home helps find homes for cats in shelters and strays living on streets, and also rehoming of cats due to personal issues.

Members of the group coordinate safe travels from coast to coast. Volunteer drivers of the organization pick up a leg or shift. A leg or shift typically runs about an hour and a half. A meeting spot is arranged to pick up the animal. A driver will meet one of the members at the meeting spot to pick up a cat in the carrier and then proceeds to the next meeting spot. Drivers usually only drive about an hour; however, there have been a few members who are willing to drive six hours away to ensure that the domestic animal has a safe travel and makes it to their new homes.

“My first transport experience was great, I was nervous but so excited,” said Christina Seguine, a volunteer driver for Imagine Home. “From June 21, 2014, to March 5, 2016, I have helped drive 58 cats. I even took three very special cats from New Jersey all the way to North Carolina…To this day it was one of best days of my life.”

More often than not, the transport can take all weekend or sometimes even longer. An overnight stay, or foster home, is required. Transports only run on weekends due to the availability and schedules of drivers. Volunteer fosters will temporarily take in an animal on transport and house them until the following weekend for the next transport. This gives the animals a place to rest before another weekend of traveling. Some fosters will take in an animal for a few months until they are able to go to their forever homes.

“I had wanted to volunteer in some way to help cats, but I didn’t know what to do,” said Deb Dover, volunteer driver for Imagine Home. “When I read about transports, it really clicked. I knew how to drive and my exposure to pathogens would be minimal. I have time on the weekends to spare. It’s a perfect fit”

This group is mainly dedicated to cats due to the problem of so many cats not having homes and the overpopulation of stray cats. There are many cities that euthanize at shelters; by giving animals another chance at life, long-distance adoptions have saved them. Since the group was formed, Imagine Home has transported 547 cats and two dogs.

The use of social media has had a big effect on the group. It has provided safe transports for the animals, assistance, education and inspiration by connecting people with resources and other alternatives, but more importantly it has provided the animals with loving homes.

Along with fosters, drivers and volunteers, there are many other jobs that come with being a member and coordinating so everything runs smoothly as possible.

“My duties are mostly to coordinate transports on the day of their event,” said Noelle Spark, Development Director of Imagine Home. “I also do a variety of special projects. I work on complicated or involved requests. I create graphics for transports and recruiting, and do odd jobs that nobody else wants to do. I helped create Imagine Home, along with a group of friends, because we had been with another group that wanted to make money doing transports. We believed then, and even more now, that the most important thing was the cats who need help.”

As of March 10, the organization was able to obtain a 501c3 status. A 501c3 stands for a non-profit organization, and because the group is considered a charity,  this exempts the group from all federal tax income.

Imagine Home is currently looking for more volunteers, and can be contacted through Facebook. Students who volunteer are eligible for volunteer hour credits. For more information visit:

CCM students join in lifesaving tradition



While some students race out of the County College of Morris campus to eat or hang out with friends, others are racing to save lives.

“Some people do it for the experience, for their resume,” said Jonathon Yeh, CCM student and Minute Men Volunteer. “Some people do it to help people and give back to the community. Some people do it for the adrenaline you get when you answer a call, or for saving people. I do it for all these reasons.”

The Morris Minute Men have about 70 active members, covering Morris Township and Morris Plains in the event of a medical emergency. All members are unpaid.

“We’re all volunteer, and we’re supported by the people,” said Vince Marchese, Adjunct Professor of Meteorology at CCM and Minute Men member. “The town and the township both contribute significantly because it is in their best interests to have a first aid squad. We don’t charge anyone for help. We’re free and we work for free.”

Established in 1941, the EMS program has been running for 75 years out of it’s headquarters in Morris Plains. The headquarters’ walls are crowded with plaques, pictures and awards, two of which are Morris Plains Community Service Awards – which look like big golden keys to the city, and recognize the Minute Men as one of the best volunteer emergency medical organization in the U.S.

Elizabeth Nally, a Lieutenant in the Minute Men and a nursing student at CCM, said it’s hard to balance school and volunteering, but volunteering has helped in her nursing classes.

“I’ve seen some stuff, from being here,” Nally said. “I’m not grossed out if I have to dress a wound… It helps a lot, building people skills too. I feel like it helps me a lot to be more competent in school.”

Yeh said he took four classes last semester, three of which had labs, which require extra time. It was too much to work, go to class and volunteer.

“I quit my job,” Yeh said. “I think it’s worth it. If you’re here, you still have time to do homework and study if you manage your time well.”

Nally said that she likes volunteering for the Minute Men, and enjoys getting to meet a lot of different people from the community. She joined when she was 16 years old.

“It’s hard now, though, with nursing school,” Nally said. “I was on nights, but it’s too hard running calls at night and waking up to do a nursing exam. So now I’m on the day team.”

Dave Schulz, the President of the Morris Minute Men EMS, said it’s absurdly hard to balance time while volunteering.

According to Schulz, higher ranking members volunteer about 30 hours a week, while regular members volunteer about 20 hours a week.

“Lots of the time I won’t get homework done,” said Garran Armington, a Morristown High School student and volunteer. “But it usually doesn’t interfere with anything. The hardest thing, honestly, is if we have a busy night. Like a 2:30 call or something really late, I’ll be pretty tired for my first two classes. Besides that, it’s not that bad.”

Marchese said that one thing that makes the Minute Men so unique is their name.

“We went to a competition, and we were the only group with a name wasn’t just numbers and a location,” said Marchese.

Though the program started in 1941, the Minute Men get their unique name from American history.

“Morristown has always had a close affiliation with the Revolutionary War,” Schulz said. “Back in around 1775, the Minute Men were formed out of the colonial militia. They were men who volunteered to do more than the average militiaman, to be more responsive, and to be ready at a minute’s notice. The Minute Men. It’s a good parallel, because we’re people of the community who volunteer to step up and do more. We sleep here, we have bunks here, we’re here 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We’re ready at a minute’s notice.”

The Minute Men are open to volunteers of all ages, accepting everyone from teens to seniors.

“If you want to gain some experience or help out the community, we welcome anyone,” Yeh said.

For more information on the Minute Men, visit

New building to be named for exiting president

News Editor



The halls of DeMare Hall may seem a little quieter as of late as the musicians and thespians have been moved out of cramped classrooms in the County College of Morris’ main academic building to their new home in the soon-to-be dedicated Edward J. Yaw Music Technology Center.

“I’m honored, and this is meaningful to me in a lot of different ways,” said Edward Yaw, CCM president. “It’s meaningful because we’ve wanted to add this to the campus for many years… and my father was also a musician in upstate New York, so this has special meaning to me.”

Yaw said the new name will not take effect until the dedication ceremony on April 21, and until after the Board of Trustees approves it that week.

The CCM Board of Trustees broke ground on the new $8.5 million building in Sept. 2014.

“Since 2007, enrollment in our music technology programs has grown 36 percent,” said Edward Yaw, CCM President. “This new facility not only will address that growth but allow CCM to build upon the strengths of its music and performing arts programs. We are grateful to the residents of New Jersey and county officials for making this possible.”

Since 2014, the Building Our Future Bond Act has provided $750 million for New Jersey’s colleges. Of that, $200 million is going towards community colleges for much-needed construction and renovation projects.

CCM received a total of $10 million to construct the Music Technology Building along with upgrading its engineering labs. The Music Technology Center has since become a multi-purpose building used to house the college’s popular and growing music technology and other performing arts programs.

“The Music Technology Center is awesome and we’re getting modern technology shipped from other countries, which are specially made for our new building” said Ashley May, a student at CCM.

All of the funding for the facility is coming from the Building Our Future Bond Act that was approved by New Jersey voters in 2012.

Governor Chris Christie said that passage of the bond act would increase jobs as well as boost the state’s economy in terms of construction, teaching and maintaining the facilities.

“The Music Technology Building will be one of 176 projects that are underway at 46 of our college’s and universities throughout the state, and it’s important not only for the future jobs it will create but also for the men and women who work in the building trades across the state,” said Christie.

The Music Technology Center has been constructed as a 22,500-square-foot, two-story addition to the college’s Student Community Center. Academic programs to be housed in the new facility include Digital Media Technology, Drama, Media Technology, Music and Music Recording.

The facility includes an experimental theater lab that will serve as a large hands-on classroom with a recording studio and seating for 100-125 people, two standard classrooms, an electronic music/aural comprehension classroom, a piano lab, a second recording studio, scene shop, dressing rooms and multiple student practice rooms.

“You always dream about having nice facilities to work and teach in, but here the dream came true,” said Todd Collins, a music professor at CCM.

CCM softball team takes on national competitors


This March, the women’s softball team at the County College of Morris will be packing up and heading to Orlando, Fla. to compete against teams from across the country.

There will be 19 players and three coaches going down in hopes of winning the week­long double­header games.

“We have been practicing everyday and playing a lot of games in preparation for our games in Florida,” said Nicole Iorio, a nursing major at CCM. “My mindset going into the games is just to make a minimal amount of errors and run as fast as I can.”

The three coaches have been working very hard with the athletes, training them almost everyday.

“We have been practicing a lot of infield, outfield and team drills that will come in handy on game days,” Iorio said. “I’m both nervous and excited and I know all the girls are really eager to play.”

Breanna Csakvary, a power hitter, has a right arm injury from overuse but still plans to participate in the games in Florida.

“Thanks to physical therapy, trainers and the coaches, I’m still able to go,” said Csakvary. “I’m excited to go because I think our team works well together, and it was so cool to see a group of strangers come together as a family over the course of a few seasons.”

Kim Vansavage, a liberal arts major, said she is excited to go to Florida because all of the games thus far have been local, and she wants a change of scenery and weather.

Vansavage, an outfielder, said that in order to make her coach, Greg Wardlow, proud, she has to run back for any ball that goes over her head to catch it.

“My coach has made me a better player, and he is really encouraging,” said Vansavage. “So I want to show him how much I have improved. I need to watch for bad hops and adjust for them to make the plays.”

Vansavage said putting her teammates in the best position possible is what she is most concerned about.

The team will play at the Disney Sports Center, known as the Wide World of Sports Complex.

“On Wednesday we will be going to a water park, and I’m probably most excited about that,” Vansavage said.