Bloggy Xmas 11 – Nothing New Under The Sun

So, #bloggyxmas Day 11, it’s just you and me…

…and the score of other bloggers who came before me and said everything good, right, and interesting *I* was about to say. No, really, I was. Except now I can’t and you’ll never know, because they already did and I can’t possibly copy what anyone else said. /ragequit

GRRRRR!

GRRRRR!

Okay, I lied. No /ragequit. Because that’s partly the point of community for me, especially the gaming community but probably, to be honest, any community that’s passionate about whatever it is it’s passionate about — we all share this gestalt mind that pursues the same subjects at the same time and says very similar things. And subjects come around again every so often (in my case, Solo vs. Grouping and Why Dungeons Are Horrible), get hotly debated, and then die back down for six months or a year.

For a while — which coincided with me not blogging a whole lot, so the past 2-3 years or so — I wasn’t so sure, but now I think this is A Good Thing™. I started this blog back in 2008 and for a very short while it was going to be a blog just about Warhammer Online, because that’s what I was involved in when I started it. It’s all the fault of Casualties of War, you see (and they appear to be a casualty of the internet because the forums have either moved or are no more) — a bunch of people I met online and don’t even remember how I met, because that’s the cool thing about gaming: you meet people all the time while playing games and while many of them fall by the wayside, a not-inconsiderable number of them end up sticking as acquaintances, friends, possibly RL friends and sometimes even spouses.

cropped-casualties_2.jpg

Casualties of War – Warhammer Online group shot

I am now RL-friends (and neighbours, as it happens) with people I met in Asheron’s Call almost 15 years ago, not to mention having changed continents in order to get married to one of those met-in-an-MMO people. Back then it was weird, and people kept telling me I was going to meet axe-murderers; it’s not so unusual these days (meeting people online – not meeting axe-murderers). So I probably met someone in Casualties through someone I knew who knew someone who knew someone who was involved. And Casualties was chock-full of blogging types who encouraged the rest of us to try it out, and many of us did, and most of our blogs went from “this will only ever be about Warhammer, I swear!” to “games rock! let’s talk more about games!”, which is entirely predictable given that most gamers are passionate about more than a single game.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, because I’ve lost the blogging habit these last couple of years and anything other than stream-of-consciousness is hard work. But at some point — and many bloggers have encountered the same thing — I felt as though I’d said most of what I needed to say, that others were saying it much more cogently and with a fresher perspective anyway, and that I was just rehashing stuff nobody would care about. So I stopped writing, and told myself it was because life had become very busy (which it had) and I had many other things to do (which I did) — but when you’re passionate about something, you find time for it no matter what. That guy who never calls you back because he’s ‘too busy’? He didn’t want to call you in the first place. We make time for the things we care about.

Kittens make every post 1000% better. True fact.

Kittens make every post 837% better. True fact.

And I care about gaming, so here I am. I’ve always stated that I blog primarily for myself — and I do, which freed me from caring about how many people clicked this or how many people commented on that (though the stats are kind of fun and the positive attention is freaking awesome, especially when it’s from people I admire). But blogging for myself doesn’t mean I’m not part of a community of other people who blog about games and a whole host more people who read blogs about games. And yes, we’re terribly incestuous. We share ideas, we all post about the same thing pretty much at the same time, we have storms in teacups and get our knickers in a twist and make up and write posts about how awesome the gaming and game-blogging community is. Because it is.

Because despite (or perhaps because of) being an introvert I can connect, whenever I want and to whatever extent I find comfortable, with folks on blogs and all the other social media out there now. We all have different lives, we all have daily triumphs and tragedies and challenges, and although we don’t necessarily talk about them (though I find I share that stuff a bit more nowadays than I used to, and it can be a comfort), we share a bond that somehow makes life a little better. Because we’re passionate about that one thing. It can lower barriers and build bridges between people who otherwise wouldn’t acknowledge each other in the street, for whatever political, religious or cultural reason. It’s not a panacea, but it is A Good Thing. And whether it’s reading blogs or writing them or simply making friends through gaming and Twitter and Facebook and MyLifeHasNoPrivacy.com, we should continue doing it.

Thanks to Syl for running this initiative, which has reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. Alone but not lonely, I game.

Happy holidays.

xmas

 

 

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.