Gaming without your brother

Monthly Archives: August 2012

I mean, nothing really seems worth playing or writing about or gaming when I could obsessively re-read the PAX schedule and re-plan and double check my packing list and see if there is anything I could pack five days early. But, Guild Wars 2 came out and most of the gamers I know were pretty excited for it. I received a copy myself as a wonderful gift, so although I wasn’t exactly waiting on the edge of my seat for it, I excitedly started playing it on Saturday just like all the other pre-order folks.

First off, I should explain my experience with MMOs; it is next to nothing. I played the trial version of WoW, back in the day when it was a week, instead of the first twenty levels. I played some free-to-play MMO that I’ve forgotten the name of a little more recently than that, but I didn’t get far in it. So my standard by which to compare GW2 to is . . . lacking, to say the least.

It took me way too long to recognize that was a 2.

It took me way too long to recognize that was a 2.

With that disclaimer, I will say the music is fantastic. I am in the Plains of Ashford as a female Charr warrior that . . . I tried to make as ruggedly scary looking as possible. Half a horn missing, one eye milky white, the other eye bright orange with no pupil . . . those are pretty scary features to me. Unfortunately the voice acting doesn’t fit with my grizzled war chieftess at ALL, but her fur is sienna with light grey stripes throughout, including on her face so . . . you win some, you lose some. Anyway, back to the music. Again, I’ve only been to the Plains of Ashford (and the Black Citadel) but the jams are very epic. Very appropriate to the setting as the scenery changes and really top quality. I guess since there is no monthly fee, even though I didn’t play the original Guild Wars, I was expecting a cheaper experience, but for me, springing for a great composer and a great recording orchestra truly immerses me in the environment, so good on ya, NCSoft!

I am so very close to level ten, and then I stopped to pack for PAX, but in ten levels, I can say that I like the combat system very much. I love that skills change with weapons so I’m always seeing something new, and there are more variables to choosing your weapon (e.g. I started with a sword that was okay, then I got an axe which was awesome, and then I got a very powerful mace, but the mace skills are slower, so I went back to the axe even though it has less raw power points. Very cool, Guild Wars 2!). I haven’t felt like I”ve been grinding at all, although I do have to stop just exploring or just continuing on the main plot path every soft often because I’ll realize that I missed a few quests in one area which means I’m not at the recommended level for the next quest in the plot or the area I happen to be exploring. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it might be a con for people that really hate to have to cover every quest before doing what they want at a decent level. I’d also imagine that the higher level you are, the less this happens.

Unfortunately, I am so very uninterested in the story. I’m curious to use one of my other five character slots (also a cool feature) to pick a different race and see how different every thing is. Or if it’s all generally the same but with different names and places. Anyway, there’s in-fighting and clans and betrayal and . . . blah. I’m not sure why it hasn’t really captured me, but it really hasn’t. The voice acting is pretty good but the cut scenes are a let down. I shouldn’t be expecting RPG cut scenes but I kind of was, so to just see two talking heads every time something happens removes me from the world I’m supposed to be plugged in to.

Don't compare to an RPG, don't compare to an RPG, don't compare to an RPG!

Don’t compare to an RPG, don’t compare to an RPG, don’t compare to an RPG!

I don’t think I can comment much on the art or graphics. Pretty standard MMO stuff. Can’t knock it for fitting the genre and trying to appeal to as many hardware setups as possible.

Finally, the controls had quite the learning curve for me. I was really prepared for the click-to-move set up and doing whatever else you need with the keyboard and your left hand (assuming you’re right-handed, of course). In GW2, you use keys to move you around with one hand and combat skills with the other hand, but the mouse is sill what reorients your screen for you. Very odd. Maybe I’m just not getting it very well, in which case, can someone please explain it to me? Out of habit, I re-mapped the number pad on the right side of the keyboard to be my movement keys and I use the number row at the top of the keyboard with my left hand to perform all my combat skills, but I think I did it backwards. If I kept WASD then I could use my right hand for the number pad and combat skills while fighting and on the mouse to re-orient the screen while running around. I feel like when that thought occurred to me earlier there was a drawback, but now it’s not coming to mind . . . better change the keys when I play next, then maybe I won’t complain about the controls any more.

Anyway, those are all my thoughts thus far. I die fairly frequently, and apparently I have a “hook up” with some good gear but I gotta message a certain someone first. I’ll get to it one of these days. I have no firm opinion about Guild Wars 2 yet because I just don’t care too much about it. Fun enough, I’ll keep playing until I find a concrete reason not to, but I haven’t fallen in love with it by any means.

Maybe play this game?

Maybe play this game?

Advertisements

You guys. Holy crap.

So I heard some of my friends were going to PAX a month or so ago, and I was pretty bummed because for the first time in my life, I thought that I might be able to start going to cool things like PAX or ComicCon or any of the other awesome cons that are around the country. But, because it had never really been on my radar before (in a real, I-can-actually-go sort of way) I wasn’t aware that PAX Prime was Labor Day weekend, and I missed buying tickets. Frankly when they went on sale, I was most likely too poor to buy them anyway.

Arguably the best gaming convention in the USA.

Arguably the best gaming convention in the USA.

Last night I was hanging out with these PAX friends and my hometown of Seattle came up so naturally, one friend asked if I was attending the Prime convention next week. I said no, I was bummed and jealous of them, but also excited for them and thought it would be awesome. AND THEN, the best sentence I had heard in a really, really long time was uttered as this friend said “Do you want to go? I have an extra ticket.”

I said yes without thinking about how my monetary situation is kind of tight right now, but I don’t mind eating beans for the next week and a half and a few weeks afterwards to take advantage of the opportunity. Because there are so many reasons why this is a great thing for me.

A)    I just love being anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. I anticipate being at the convention all day, every day of the weekend, so I doubt I’ll really get to soak in the Puget Sound or the lush greenery, but simply being in the vicinity always makes me feel a little more whole. I’m pretty dang obsessed with the place.

B)     I love video games so being around video games is spectacular. I will get to play games and go to panels and all the great things that come with going to PAX. This is the “duh” bullet point, but I felt like I should at least put it down for the record.

C)    I don’t think I’ve ever been around a large group of people that love video games and nerd culture . . . ever. In this quest to start this blog and work in the game industry, I’ve realized how oppressed I really felt, as though video games were always a waste of time and a lesser hobby than anything else. WRONG. So, spreading my wings even further by going to PAX is just going to help more, with all of those feels.

Always makes me laugh, despite being creepy. Nerds know my feel.

Always makes me laugh, despite being creepy. Nerds know my feel.

D)    I am going to try to network the crap out of that place. I am printing business cards as we speak, that are admittedly sparse, but they list this site and my email address so . . . *sigh* here’s hoping. Head high, Laurie! Hope for the best! I refuse to feel defeated before I even get there. Phew. Good pep talk.

Anyway, these friends I’m going with are just awesome guys, so it’s going to be a blast, I’m positive. And the best news for you guys: I’m gonna blog about it every day! So will everyone else and their dogs I suppose, but hopefully I can offer a more personal perspective and maybe look at things that other news outlets will skim over. At the very least, it will beef up my writing portfolio and I will enjoy it. Boom. The end.

If any of you are going to be at PAX, I would love to bump into you and say hello! We probably won’t have much to talk about, but it would be cool right? I just love strangers with one purpose all together in the same place. Like when everyone sings the same lyrics at a concert. Those are some of my most uplifting memories, that really give me faith in humanity. I don’t want to project too much on PAX, because it could turn out to be full of tools, what do I know? But I actually feel confident at the very least it will be highly enjoyable and at the very most, it will make me love everyone to a Pinkie Pie kind of level. That’s right; I just dropped some Ponies on you.

I might end up loving everyone.

I might end up loving everyone.


Two posts in one day? She’s gone mad!

Quite the contrary. I’ve gone focused. And this comes and goes, so who’s to say how long this bout will last but I just applied for a game writer position with a company and I think the mix of it being near my hometown (which I’m quite desperate to get back to) and it being a job listing that didn’t explicitly state that I need five years of game writing experience on AAA titles only has me wanting this one really bad. So bad that I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a more passionate cover letter. It may be over the top, I’m having my personal editor check it out for me (thanks, brother) before I do anything drastic, like submit a first draft, but I figured this raw passion should be remembered somewhere.

I figured the first paragraph had to address some of the specific skills they mention that I believe fall under my particular skill set and previous work experience (like copy writing and editing). Everything after that I thought “what could I write that would make me want to hire me? I would want to see someone who wants this so bad, they’d do anything.” So that’s what I wrote.

___________________________

I imagine your ideal candidate for this position would be someone with extensive experience in the gaming industry. Luckily, I am just that candidate. I landed on Zebes along with Samus when I played the original Metroid on my brother’s Nintendo Entertainment System. I hunted ducks and stomped goombas and got a sword from an old man because it was too dangerous to go alone. As the years progressed, I lost some rings to Dr. Robotnik, picked up some upgrades from Dr. Light, and I even traveled through time with Crono, Marle, and Lucca. I’ve raced karts, memorized the Konami code, assassinated Templars, and I even defeated some zerg.

I have learned from the best video game writers because I have played some of the best video game narratives. Red Dead Redemption, Ocarina of Time, Portal, and the list could go on and on. I took creative writing courses in college and I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. Given my deep interest and immersion in video games, fiction, and constant writing of my own, I am positive that I can make a powerful contribution to your writing staff.

__________________________

The closing paragraph went on to say that I’m trying to relocate, not just willing to, and that they should call me because I’m the best, etc. etc. I’ve written a few other cover letters like this, where I try to punch it up with humor and video game references to show that I’m a passionate gamer, not just another schlup looking for a job. But this one felt different somehow. I don’t think I was really trying to be funny, I think it was one of the few times I was trying to yell through paper, without caps or bold or italics or underline or exclamation marks. I am a gamer, I am a real gamer, I have played real games, and I unabashedly say that I love them so much. Let me love what I do everyday. Please.

If one of you doesn’t get me a job soon, you’re just gonna keep getting more posts like this. Ha, see how I put this on you now? Suckers.


Too much gaming, no time to write! So, here’s a quick run down of thoughts on all the gaming I’ve done since I built my PC:

First, building that thing was so fun. It was the best of both worlds – getting to work with my hands and getting to work with a mouse and keyboard. I had a few problems getting the motherboard to recognize my GPU, but I figured it out and now it’s running like a champ. I will say, I used the stock thermal paste that came on my stock heatsink, and the CPU runs pretty hot sometimes. My first update purchase will probably be thermal paste. Then maybe more fans (the case only came with one! My one complaint about that Cooler Master case). Aside from that, I think the weak link in my setup is my motherboard but that’ll take me longer to replace just because I don’t know if I want the hassle, particularly because my rig is running like a CHAMP! So true, it’s worth saying twice. I’ve never seen games run on “Very High” graphic settings in real life before. Only in videos. Beautiful. Also, all on my 32” HDTV. This is heaven, as Jimmy Eat World once said.

The Friday that my final PC pieces arrived, I was geeking out checking the shipping logs online at work and my boss asked me what game I would first christen my system with. I had never even considered it! I logged into my Steam library to give it some good hard thought and settled on Dragon Age: Origins. It’s my oldest game in my library that I still haven’t played because I bought it when it was on sale and my laptop could barely run it. As I built my machine that night, I was getting bored waiting for Windows updates and I opened a game of Mahjong, which I later realized was truly the first game I played on the PC. Highly disappointing, unless you’re my mom, then it’s really great.

DAMN you, Mahjong! You've tricked me for the last time!

DAMN you, Mahjong! You’ve tricked me for the last time!

Anyway, Saturday morning I was troubleshooting some last software stuff when I finally got to business playing Dragon Age Saturday afternoon. I had attempted to play through this game when I first bought it, but my laptop was struggling so hard I didn’t get very far. But after a few hours of play, I’m just about where I stopped the first time around and let me say: it is slow going. I’ve heard great things about this game, so I’ll power through. The combat I enjoy because although there are some really tough bosses, the strategy aspect of being able to pause and assign characters actions helps a lot. I’m also looking forward to trying out a different race at some point to see how different things really are.

But while I was playing Dragon Age, I made sure I was downloading other games at all times. But every time a game was finished downloading from my library, I thought “Oooh, I wonder how that will look” and I’d take a break and start playing another game. I finally downloaded and tried out StarCraft II (which is the first StarCraft game I’ve ever played). I enjoyed it so much that when the starter edition ended, I straight up bought the rest of the game. The original World of WarCraft games were RTS and I remember loving those so even though I didn’t have a lot of time logged to justify my $40 purchase of the rest of the game, I am nearly positive I’ll enjoy the time I get out of it. Plus, it was more of a social purchase. Everyone I know and their dogs play SCII so I need to start getting my game on. Anyway, great graphics, very fun voice acting, I have no idea what’s going on in the story in relation to the original SC but . . . great graphics!

Protoss? Kerrigan? Zerg? Sure, whatever.

Protoss? Kerrigan? Zerg? Sure, whatever.

I had to check out Team Fortress 2 on the big screen (big by my standards . . .) and with a faster processor. Holy. Crap. It’s like a different game! No lag, just blowing people away without hesitation! Seriously fun. The problem is becoming that I have too many awesome games to play, and now am always in a conundrum of what to start.

I should make this useful, instead of commenting on old games. I did try out a demo for A Valley Without Wind which . . . I somehow thought looked amazing from a gameplay demo I saw months ago. False, it is not. Boring, too much going on, a really expansive world but constant hints throughout tell you not to waste your time exploring everything . . . ? More time should’ve been spent on the graphics and gameplay instead of the map, frankly. Don’t waste your time on it. I didn’t even finish the demo, I just quit after a few hours.

But! Best demo of the week aware goes to A Book of Unwritten Tales! I saw this on Steam a few weeks ago and thought it looked pretty cute, lots of tongue-in-cheek humor about gaming and fantasy tropes. I downloaded the demo and finally played it last week. Hilarious! Superb voice acting, a highly polished visual presentation, and humor all over the place. The gameplay is your standard point-and-click adventure game, lots of repetitive walking and puzzling, which I’m not a big fan of. For that reason, I’ll wait until this goes on sale (it’s currently $20) but it’s available on Steam and gog.com so . . . go nuts if you’d like! I highly recommend at least trying the demo, which had me laughing out loud.

This is the ship that Death lives on, depressed that no one dies in the game.

This is the ship that Death lives on, depressed that no one dies in the game.

Reviews you can expect in the future now that I can play some old gog.com and Steam purchases: Myst! (never played it, we’ll see how much I can do without googling like an idiot), Commander Keen! (this game IS my childhood. All Commander Keen games were just $4 during the QuakeCon sale on Steam last weekend), and if I can ever kill that ——- piece of —- devil —— stupid —– DURIEL, I’ll write about Diablo II sometime soon (also beautiful on the big screen, if for no other reason than I can see things for once, instead of squinting at a 14” screen. Also need to finish and write about Lands of Lore, so I can get rolling on Legend of Grimrock! (thanks, Steam Summer Sale!)

Ugh . . . DURIEL.

My rage is unquenchable. Even eventually killing this devil will not satiate my desire to obliterate it from existence, from ALL FUTURE DIABLO II GAMES!

My rage is unquenchable. Even eventually killing this devil will not satiate my desire to obliterate it from existence, from ALL FUTURE DIABLO II GAMES!