Dragon Age Inquisition – First Glance

As I should have known (and predicted), I spent the first hour or two (or three, cough) in DA:I without getting past the first two minutes of the intro.

The first character I made was Qunari and looked ok in the creator but I didn’t like her one bit after that, and not just because someone varnished her lips when I wasn’t looking. Maybe if I’d called her Maleficent (instead of Malice – close but no cigar) I’d have felt more of a bond with her.

DAI Maleficent

So I went back to the main menu and made another character. I didn’t want to remake my characters from DA 1 and 2, but the Qunari just didn’t feel very connected to the whole thing for me, so I went with an elf this time. Enter Sorrow #1.

Sorrow1Sorrow1_2

I really liked her in the creator, and she wasn’t bad in the cold harsh light of DA:I, though she did have a bit of a gormless look to her and she was made up like an Abba fan from 1981.. but then I realised that a) I hadn’t changed her hairstyle, which was clipping through her ears in a totally kickin’-it-2005 kind of way and b) I’d picked dual-wield rogue instead of archer. Had I known that the initial weapon choice doesn’t really make much of a difference I might have kept her, but I didn’t.

Enter Sorrow #2. There are complicated emo RP reasons for her name and I’ll share those with you as soon as I nail them down, I promise. (Or I just think it’s a cool name.) She’s blonde, which is a colour choice I almost never make in games, but it fit her, and I liked her feral look in the prologue (which is before the intro but after char creation).

Sorrow2_1

Giant spiders? I’ve seen CRABS bigger than you guys!

No spoilers, but the story grabs you by the hair from the first and doesn’t seem to want to let go – as far as I can tell, which isn’t very far because I’m super, suuuuuuuuper slow about new games like this. Sorrow introWhen I discovered I could run around and up hills and JUMP OVER STUFF I of course had to do that for a while, with Ms. Stickupherbutt trying really hard not to tell me to hurry, the fate of the world depended on blahblahblah.

Sorrow intro 2

It’s not YOUR hand that’s turning into Soylent Green!

So yeah, we made it past the Intro sequence without hating on the disgusting console-driven UI and the disgusting console-driven movement and the disgusting console-driven gameplay too much (seriously. I’m tired of shooting arrows at the landscape in front of me whenever I try to move by holding down both mouse buttons, and I am beyond in loathe with the ‘ping’ your surroundings mechanic. You basically have to ping your surroundings every 3 seconds if you’re like me and dread missing a piece of lore or that 138th elfroot harvest, so… anyway, tangent over).

I lied. I’m totally hating on it. The ‘tactical’ view lets you zoom out about as far as a gnat’s backside if said gnat were up your nostril, which blows. Combat is weird and not like it was in DA 1 and 2. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough and wonder how I ever did it differently, especially since for me, combat is like the 189th thing on the list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age. But it definitely is weird if you’ve played the other 2 games.

Character progression seems to be a lot like in DA2, which I can live with. The Inventory is another disgusting console-driven element and basically SUCKS for those of us who, you know, have a mouse and a keyboard and can see more than 3 things on the screen at once because we’re not sitting 10′ away from a crappy-resolution television – but I’ll probably get used to that too. It’s not like I’m playing Diablo here, and items are probably the 197th thing on my list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age.

But the graphics are pheno-freaking-menomenomenal, the voice acting isn’t bad (though the facial movements… we won’t go there), the animations are fun, combat is quick and painless if that’s what you want (which I do), and it might be worth the price of admission just for the landscapes.

DAI landscapeI doubt I’m the only one to note that DA:I has a distinctly Skyrim vibe to it, perhaps because you start out in the snow surrounded by ginormous scenic mountains, but also because the graphics for this installment are much grander and more cinematic in general. This is definitely a good thing.

DAI Landscape 3Dark corridors are actually DARK, to the point where I got all chicken and turned up the gamma a bit (it didn’t help much), and distant vistas are distant and, er, vista-like. Also good.

And finally – is it just me, or does Solas look like Arnold Vosloo? You be the judge:

Solas Vosloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World of Warcraft – Garrison Love

It might be fashionable to hate on WoW, but I’m going to buck the trend and give it some love, because so far this expansion is the shiz. I came late to both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, so I only experienced Cataclysm and Pandaria when they first launched, and of those three this is definitely my favourite. For one thing it’s a 10-level expansion, which feels a bit more filling than the previous 5-level ones — but mostly it’s because of garrisons.

I hereby predict a LOT of alt levelling, as though there wasn’t enough of it in WoW already. As a card-carrying altoholic, this makes me very happy indeed.

It’s been all of 2 days, granted (since the FixItAll™ patch on Saturday morning), but I have been Wowcracking the whole time. And ok, that sounds even worse than I thought it would, but I’ll own it.

I’m levelling my warlock because hunter-levelling-with-friends, and speaking of which, here’s a funny that did the rounds this weekend:

level together

– so yeah, I’ve been levelling the warlock (tangent #2, can you say ‘OP’?), and since garrison development is tied to a character’s progress through the expansion content, her garrison is the farthest along at the moment.

It may not be housing, but I give you:

My very own mine - with nodey goodness!

My very own mine – with nodey goodness!

And…

My very own lumber mill, which I'm not sure what it's good for yet

My very own lumber mill, which I’m not sure what it’s good for yet

And…

My bank

My very own bank, which means that soon I’ll never need to leave my garrison and see those pesky OTHER PEOPLE ever again!! Ain’t life grand?!

I also have an enchanting building but right now it’s a tad underwhelming. I’m sure it’ll be more entertaining at max level — as always, most things in the expansion are designed for max level chars, but the getting-to-max journey is as entertaining as it ever was. If there’s one thing WoW does well it’s the levelling content, which I’ve always found weird considering it’s supposedly secondary to everything else.

Anyway, it’s been fun. And that’s all you get because I need to log on and send my mini-onions followers on some missions. Work work!

 

Sims 4 Legacy Challenge – The Last Straw?

The arrival of Gen 4 might just have sounded the death-knell for any desire I have to play this legacy family.

Gen4 twinsStacey just had twins. So let’s recap:

Gen 2 – Single: Holdem | Twins: Slapjack & Ratscrew

Gen 3 – Triplets: Baccarat, Poker & Canasta

Gen 4 – Twins: Piquet and Gin-Rummy

Out of four birth events, only ONE has been a single birth and none of the parents ever had any kind of fertility treatment. And out of eight children, only 2 have been female.

I’ll be blunt: it was funny the first time, funnier the second, but now I’m simply not f-ing amused anymore. Add in the bugged relationships which mean that people who have lived together all their lives suddenly don’t even know each other anymore, not to mention the plants that have suddenly stopped evolving (just when one of my Sims gets a gardening-related aspiration), and it might be time to start a new legacy family.

In MMO circles we call that /ragequitting, and I might just do it.

The Secret World revisited?

It’s because I changed the site theme last week — going through my old screenshots and uploads for the random header made me remember how utterly cool (and occasionally extremely creepy) The Secret World was, and how much fun I had in it even if some other shiny pulled me away.

And then there’s Syp over at Bio Break doing his return to TSW posts, and that was the final nail in the resistance coffin.

Even with our crappy internet it only took *coughcough* a couple of days to download the 19G client. The question now is do I start a whole new character, or do I pick up one of my old ones? Decisions…

Aside from that I’m good to go. Which means I’m 95% sure the servers will be down for patching or maintenance or something.

Sunset on the Savage Coast

Sunset on the Savage Coast

No Google Reader for YOU!

Yesterday when I went to read my RSS feed, I got the same popup most other users of Google Reader got: the service is going away in a few months, apparently for lack of users.

Which is mildly ironic. I have a blog, a lot of people I know have blogs (which is how I got to know them) and a pretty large proportion of us seem to use G-Reader to keep track of each other’s posts. According to one article I read yesterday – I didn’t bookmark it and can’t find it now, so you’ll have to take this on faith – RSS feeds are for nerds and nerds don’t need dedicated stuff because they can find other ways to do what they need. And they’re nerds, so they can suck it up. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, direct RSS feeds aren’t “sexy”, apparently. Ah, right. I never realised that what I want from my software is sexiness.

The author did have a point. RSS is kinda nerdy and there was no easy way to explain what Google Reader does. Or did. But just because something isn’t easy to explain (or grasp) doesn’t mean it’s useless or that it shouldn’t be used. If that’s the equation we’re making today, then it’s not just MMOs that are dumbing down.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for alternatives. A friend kindly pointed me in the direction of Feedly, so I’m trying them out first. They were slammed yesterday but seem to be doing a little better this morning. I have to say, I do kinda like the magazine-like presentation. I could like this service. And if not, there will be others out there.

Because if there aren’t, I’m not going to be reading very many more blogs. It may work for some, but I cannot and will not use Facebook and Twitter to keep track of what 100+ people post and when. Yech. I want my feed to be there when I need it, and I don’t want to have to ‘llike’ a bunch of FB pages and trawl through my timeline.

If you ask me, it had nothing to do with popularity, or not directly. Ultimately Google Reader went away because it couldn’t be monetized.

SimCity – mea culpa

While lots of people are probably going to say this isn’t enough, it’s still nice that they’re trying to do something.

The full post is worth a read – it’s pretty short, but I don’t want to reproduce it verbatim. TL;DR below.

So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.

So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.

And, by way of apology, “we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio”. Again, lots of folks will say that’s like piling poo on top of crap, but I like that they’re trying to do something, even if it’s not something that costs them all that much in terms of bottom line. ANY effort to make things right is better than no effort at all. Mistakes (or major screwups) happen – what matters to me at the end of the day is acknowledgement and some attempt to fix things down the line.