myaru: (Avatar: All old people know each other)
Our bathroom flooded for Christmas. How's it going for everyone else? :P

For years I've been looking for a kidlit novel I read when I was younger. It disappeared with a lot of other stuff that I suspect my grandmother packed up and donated to charity without bothering to ask me. She used to do that when I was a kid-- wander around our house while she was babysitting me, gathering things she decided we didn't need anymore, and getting rid of them. My mother hated this with a passion, but I wasn't as aware, I guess?

Anyway, all I could recall of the book was that it involved a mummy, a triangular coin with eyes carved on it, and a statue of Anubis scratching at the protagonist's door, whispering, "Where are my eyes?" It scared the shit out of me! Couldn't sleep without a light on. You'd think these details would be distinctive enough for a Google search, but NOPE. Maybe I sucked at Googling shit, too, but whatever. I found it! The House on Hackman's Hill.

No wonder I couldn't remember the title.

I treated myself to a few hilarious-looking visual novels on Steam, and might even play them. A friend introduced us to Conception II, which looks too funny not to own, but also too awful to go out of my way for, so I'm not sure what to do about it yet. She's got the download version, so borrowing is, alas, out of the question. So I'm thinking I might console myself by playing Hakuouki, but am not sure yet which storyline to follow. Decisions, decisions...

Well, I may change my mind if/when I'm bored, but I probably won't do a year-end/new year post unless there's something one of you is interested in hearing about. At this point, it's all long-term goals about not torturing myself with expectations, and that sort of thing. It's slow going.
myaru: (Ko Yeong-ha)
Oh Hakuouki. Considering how much giddy joy you inspired in me when things are otherwise pretty shitty in real life-- maybe I should just play otome games from now on.

Excepting when I rewatch Saiunkoku, of course, which should have been an otome game, but somehow turned into a novel series.

(I'd play that game. I'd buy every expansion... >.>)

The Hakuouki anime presents Hijikata as the "main" love interest, and I'm happy to buy into that, although I think I like Saito a lot as a prospect too. Nobody familiar with the material is surprised by this, I'm sure. I suppose the game is more neutral, in that I couldn't immediately pinpoint anyone as a natural love interest, unless I count that moment at the very beginning in which the protagonist mumbles about Hijikata and cherry blossoms. If that isn't a big fat hint... but then again, it could've just been hinting at the title ("Demon of the Fleeting Blossom"), not his romance potential.

More, but only a little bit. )

Fushigi Yuugi! Hahahaha, another one that could've been a dating sim...

.

I haven't touched Dragon Age or Tales of Xillia for weeks. :/ I'd love to finish ToX in a timely manner, since I borrowed it from Lorelai, and I wasn't even close to finishing the first area in DA3, never mind the entire game. It's so easy to get side-tracked. I hear the environment/gameplay design is similar to Skyrim, which is actually a bad thing for me; I've avoided the Elder Scrolls games all these years in part because I'm not that interested in exploration. I do enjoy it to an extent; I like to see what the world is made of because I like worlds, but there's a point where I just want the game to tell me where to go so I can see more story, which is what's most important to me. So sue me, I like linear games sometimes. :/ FFXIII didn't bother me nearly as much as it did other people, for example. At least I wasn't running around for six hours trying to find shit and figure out if this was where I was supposed to go, or if I just got involved in something that didn't matter.

Yeah, I DID like the limited scope of the Dragon Age II setting. SO THERE. *shakes fist*

Anyway, still enjoying the game, it's just not ideal for me in terms of gameplay.

And re: FFXIII, I may not have minded the linear nature of the game, but I still can't make myself pick it up again when all I've got to look forward to is who-knows-how-long putting up with a party of Snow + Hope. Ugh. Unless one of them gets pushed off a bridge at the end, I don't know if I can deal with that.

Listmania

Nov. 21st, 2014 02:18 pm
myaru: (HnG - Fujuwara no Sai love~)
1. Acquired Dragon Age: Inquisition. Still haven't played it.
2. Read The DaVinci Code. Conclusion: could've been worse (see: Twilight).
3. Almost done with Tales of Xillia. Just along for the ride, now.
4. Watched Alien for the first time, which was awesome.
5. I'm doing all opening shifts at work. Am either stupid or crazy.
6. Getting really tired of the email spam about my Russian bride(s).
7. My guildies are trying to make me play Assassin's Creed. Am resisting heroically.
8. This Vanilla Sugar Body Scrub recipe looks fantastic.

Also, I noticed the Xenogears Perfect Works on sale (legit?) at Kinokuniya the last time I was there, which potentially kneecaps my plans to sell my Saga Frontier 2 book for millions if it got the same treatment. Oh well. :p
myaru: (Default)
I feel the sudden urge to do two things:

1. replay Vagrant Story;

2. replay FFX (the remastered version).

It occurs to me that, of the canons I've written fic for, Vagrant Story would be the perfect setting for one of my other loves: angels.

Anyway. Like I have time. Not that it's ever stopped me before...
myaru: (Default)
I'm only about twelve hours into Bravely Default, despite having it all this time. I'm just not as dedicated as I used to be! And I do have obligations to keep most days, over in another game, which proves MMOs generally suck time out of better pursuits. :P

So I'm in Florem, which is like FFIV's Troia - all women, all the time, except when the occasional lucky man visits. Apparently it used to be a pious nation dedicated to revering the spirits, etc. etc., until recently, when it became obsessed with shallow beauty and, apparently... I guess that's a spoiler. I just finished the Summoner quest, so the little revelation about the fairies is what I have in mind. Read more... )

I just got myself over to the old tailor's shop before I stopped for the night. I'm guessing the owl dude in the Mt. Fragmentum cave is going to eventually give me a water summon, although I clearly don't have what it takes to survive that right now. (He wiped me out in one hit. Ouch.) I remember seeing another one like him - maybe the same guy - earlier in the game, maybe around the Wind Temple? Even earlier, maybe. :/ Guess I'll be running around the globe after summons - just like a Tales game!

I fricking love Edea, by the way. She's far and away my favorite character, with Agnes in second place, and the other two a bit behind her. She - Agnes - is a bit over-dramatic, and her naivete is played up almost too far, in my opinion, but Edea seems very independent and firm in her beliefs, besides having a good sense of humor. :D Her idealism is tempered by a willingness to accept reality - i.e. when she sees that Artemia and Mephilia are beyond redemption, she doesn't bother begging or screaming, but just gets to work and kicks their asses. Always nice to see!

Playing another game is quite refreshing. :/ If I have gaming time, I tend to give it to Neverwinter, since I'm kinda sorta obligated to show up. Lately, though, I've wanted to take naps more than anything. Screw gaming! It's hard work getting up at five every morning after years of no such requirement-- and I'm lucky, because I'm not an opener. I could be getting up at three. :P

Hmm. Buy Banner Saga, or don't buy Banner Saga... so hard to decide.
myaru: (XG - True Miang)
1. I REALLY need to work on varying dialogue.
I would've actually titled this "I suck at dialogue," except in certain circumstances I can get it right. It's just... that's a very narrow range. And what if I want to write from the POV of a dock worker or something? I suck at that. Horribly. Which means I probably have to go back to those eavesdropping exercises they give you in class. This may also involve actually finding places where people talk differently than what I'm used to, and I'm not really sure how to approach that.

2. I suck at Magic: The Gathering
That is, I just started playing via Magic 2014, and I am so, so bad at this game. It's hilarious. But I've always wanted to play it; the investment in cards was always the barrier to trying, and this game fixes that to a point. It's obviously only a beginner's campaign, but at least I can learn without being TOO embarrassed by how many times I lose to a dumb AI... maybe. >.>

3. Cashew Bread is really good.
And if you toast it twice, it's amazing. It's absolutely awful if you want a sandwich because it falls apart easily, but if you just slather almond butter and preserves on top for breakfast, it's perfect.

4. It's easier to take all the right (writing) steps when I'm obsessed.
Lately I've been looking at what's called a "step outline" to structure my scenes, which basically forces me to do two things: summarize the conflict and resolution in one sentence (surprisingly helpful), and work out the beats of the events that lead from the beginning to the end. This all sounds very basic, I'm sure, but what occurred to me is that I did this unconsciously with fanfic all the time (and I noted that process down here), but when I'm first starting out with a new (original) story, a new set of characters, a new draft, I don't do this at all. I have to be kicked to remember it's even a thing.

But with fanfic, I'm usually thinking about the characters and circumstances all the time, already. I already know them well, etc. But I feel like I run into a Catch 22 with my own original stories, because getting to that level of knowledge requires a lot of world-building beforehand, and yet I find that if I don't write the scenes or drafts first, to sort of see it in action, none of that means anything to me and I feel like I have nothing to build on. It's hard to build both at the same time, because it leads to crappy results on both ends, and then I feel discouraged and don't want to work on it anymore. None of that really lends itself to "getting into" the work. I'm not sure what does. There are tons of beginner exercises for this, but none of those seem to work.

Anyway, this is only version 2386293765 of the same problem I keep talking about, but when I looked at the step outline, it surprised me to realize I had already done exactly the same thing elsewhere, without even thinking about it, but somehow forgot. :p
myaru: (Silmeria: we are together)
Civilization V is the worst thing that could've happened to my schedule yesterday. It was up for a good price during the Steam sale, and who says no to sales like that? I certainly don't. I fired it up after something in another game irritated me, and ended up playing way too long. It's so easy to burn four hours playing this game and not even realize it. The music is nice, the visuals are pretty, and it's always kind of hilarious to check out new "Great People" born to my civilization and find, say, "El Cid, Great Egyptian General!" waiting for me over at the capitol.

Well, the up side is that it's only addictive while I'm playing it, and once I put it down it's off my mind. While I'm playing I want to finish what I start - so when I declare war on a city state, for example (they were in the way), I don't want to just leave in the middle. Someone needs to micromanage the military!

This is not true of Neverwinter. There are life bars in my dreams.

Maybe I should cut down on the time I spend there-- just a little bit. Or a lot.

Anyway, I was always interested in the Civ games when I was younger, but couldn't afford them. It's nice to finally be able to play one. And I guess right now I'm playing games instead of reading? Whatever, it'll switch over eventually. Which one doesn't matter; I need to learn to discipline myself to stop and get to work regardless. :P
myaru: (Sarah love~)
A History of Food in 100 Recipes
Looks like fun, but I have no deep reasons for this. I'm interested in history, in food, how food evolved in history, and occasional inspiration for what to put in a historical or fantasy inn, house, or whatever. A fundamental weakness in every food history book I've ever read is the absence of information on cuisines outside of Western Europe, Russia, and America. So while it's interesting and fun to know when and where the souffle was born, I almost never find information relevant to the historical places and periods I'm interested in, excepting possibly Ashkenazic Jewish communities.

... well, wasn't that a fun tangent. But seriously, how about some more information on food in Heian Japan? I've got a bit, but. :/ Though there's this amazing link someone sent me about medieval Chinese food and alcohol preparations, which I really need to find again.

The Sopranos
Borrowed, not purchased, but I've always been curious. Whether I watch it depends on how hard Zach decides to marathon it, because my back hates marathoning anything but Game of Thrones, and will punish me.

The Secret World
It was on sale, so Zach bought a copy for me! It's more interesting than I expected, and it's really easy to spend hours playing... not least because (of course) there's no such thing as a horse to make travel faster. Having to run across Solomon Island is kind of a pain! But let me tell you, when I have money to spend? I am SO buying that cat. I want a black cat running around with me. That'd be so cute! :D I also want a Templar uniform, but have no idea if you can get those. /shallow

I'm on Cerberus, if any of you are playing.

.

Well, I've got books to talk about eventually, a Tolkien fangirl post to make, and some obvious observations about Persephone to put in a 100 Things entry. No idea how lazy I'll be about this, but if I end up posting more than one entry this week, I'm going to feel like I'm spamming. Funny how that works; I used to think an entry a day was totally fine, and now two in a row makes me feel like I'm talking too much.

I'm trying to finish something readable before the stories get posted over at [profile] lotr_community, but uhhhhhh, I'm probably not going to make it. I think they accept late entries though.

I've gotten so much pickier about what I post. I used to slap something up on the fic journal almost every day, and now we're back to the old way: almost never. At least it's for different reasons.

.

I'm still playing Tales of Vesperia, if by "playing" you can mean "letting it sit in the console until I feel like messing with more summon spirits."
myaru: (Ko Yeong-ha)
I've been scarce (and not reading, ha) because Neverwinter was released and I finally get to sink my teeth into it for real. The combat system easily trumps MMO combat as I've known it until now, and while the profession system is very different from what I'm used to - you don't get that satisfaction that you just made this thing, since you're delegating the work to dudes you hire instead - it's still a lot of fun. The up-side... or the downside, if you use craft grinding as an excuse to read while also playing your game, is that you don't have to waste precious time smelting fifty thousand bars of metal because your loyal employees are doing it for you.

Apparently PVP is great too, but I haven't tried it yet.

Also awesome: you can do this via web browser by using Gateway, so you don't even have to log in to check on a project, or start a new one. THIS MEANS I CAN CRAFT WHILE DOING REAL WORK, do you know how amazing that is. For serious.

(Disclaimer: I'm married to one of the UI designers. However, I'm judging this game based on how much I want to play it, which is all the time. Said husband was also a designer on Star Trek Online for a while, which I don't play at all, so I can't possibly be biased, now can I?)

.

Okay, okay. Work. Must do work. Or read. Or do something that makes it sound like I'm trying to better myself. :P
myaru: (Fire Emblem - Horace)
So let's just say I had a chance to see Neverwinter about half a year ago. It was okay, not amazing. But now? It looks pretty effing amazing.

I can hardly believe it's the same game. I might actually play it. It'll be free, so why not?

.

Believe it or not, I'm still keeping an eye on Fire Emblem 13. Word that it includes a generation system is exciting! I still haven't finished FE4 (and will probably be better off starting over when I decide to go for it), but the marriage/generation element was a big draw for me. So was the plot, but eh, plot, who needs it.

Ugh, I hate starting over. I kind of screwed myself over at the end of chapter two, though. I personally think that Beowolf should've been strong enough to take on the entire army guarding that last fortress with his attitude, but alas, he could not! To his credit, he came close. Then he went and died.

Technically I earned that F-minus in strategy, but whatever.

Speaking of FE, I need to finish that Kill-Everyone-Playthrough of Shadow Dragon. Horace is Mr. Awesome and I've neglected him too long.


.

LOTRO is probably the reson I never reply to anyone on AIM anymore. I tend to play in the evening, which is when most people want to message me - but it's not like I'm here during the day either, as I make it a policy to try and do something with my life every day, even if that 'something' is walking down to the store to buy more grapes.

Lothlorien is ten times more elitist than Rivendell. Elrond has a members-only forge, but Lothlorien is full of elves who tell you, "Sorry, but I prefer not to use the Westron tongue," or "What are YOU doing here? The Lady is too generous." Hahahahaha, is she generous enough to save your balls from my boot? Let's see! And let's not forget that, without the right quest, trying to enter the forest gets you pincushioned with arrows.

That second example is totally made up, but I swear some elf somewhere says something like it. And anyway, I can't tell you how many times I've fallen off of those damned telans-- not at all because I wasn't paying attention, of course. Never.

I <3 Lorien. It's a beautiful environment - one of the few in the game I don't mind running back and forth in on endlessly repeatable quests!

The Foundations of Stone in Moria, though? That place is on my shit list. The fungus was bad enough; the orcs that summon mushroom allies and explode into disgusting, diseased goop really pushed it over the edge for me, though!

.

Two more Kalafina CDs = get. Yay, new music!

It seems Persona 4 and Last Exile are done. I'll be watching those soon... if I can tear myself away from Mirkwood.
myaru: (Avatar TLA - Iroh and Toph)
Rivendell steed get FUCK YEAH. Now I just have to get all of the other elf faction steeds. It only took forever to get this one. :|

Finally bought a house, too, and am disappointed that the weaponsmith vocation doesn't get to make many decorations. Candelabras are nice, but you can only put so many of those in a room before it becomes excessive, and I can't even use the bloody chandelier. Maybe I should auction it off for an obscene price like everyone else on the game does.

I'm looking forward to Moria, though it sounds like it'll be slow going if you can't take horses in. The faction there has a mine-crawling mount, but hahaha, kindred status isn't anything to sneeze at, man. That takes time and effort, or lots of money at the auction house! (You know which route this lazy player is going to take.) I'd really like to be able to mine metal that will give me craft experience, because my crafting level is worlds ahead of my character level, and that's irritating and inconvenient. I guess it works out when I need to make new weapons for myself, but still.

Also, Rey, I may just make a new character that can run around with you at a comparable level. I might even try a dwarf. They look pretty cool. :D Then we can have arguments about how prissy elves are, and I can join the Ale Association. :D :D

Usually I do work instead of playing LOTRO, yes. I swear. Just... not this week. Reputation in Rivendell is SUPER IMPORTANT, you don't understand.

.

I should really get going and sell some doll stuff I've been meaning to get rid of, but setting up sales posts and getting the photos taken is such a pain in the ass.
myaru: (FFT - Queen of Ivalice)
The title is somewhat misleading, I guess, because it seems from my limited experience that the DM of any role-playing campaign has everything put together and ready before the session starts. A more accurate description would be writing on the fly - much like you do in MU* based RP - but I didn't want to make this look like a writing topic. It's really more of a, "holy hell, that looks like a hard job" kind of topic. I think of what it would be like to role-play NPCs and try to plan for every eventuality the players can come up with, and it sounds like it's running some kind of characterization gauntlet - because it's not like you, as the DM, are handing out script options and branching dialogue paths that everyone has to stick to. In theory that's part of the fun.

In writing, my characters don't literally have minds of their own. Unexpected turns in a text story might throw me, but I have time to stop, think, and rewrite as much as I want to. Trying to figure out how one of them would respond to a SUDDENLY MY NINJA SIDEKICK JUMPED IN THROUGH THE WINDOW type of scenario twist (from a player, mind you) would stress me out more than-- I don't even know. The dumbest things stress me out these days. I'm sure you get the idea.

Does anyone out there have DM experience? How hard was it, and how did you feel about it?

I should really do something nice for our DM. We haven't played in a while, but I can't realy blame him. If I were doing this, I'd probably spend months building my campaign, the characters, drawing maps, everything... kind of like I do for stories.

Role-playing by itself is interesting, as I find I do it different ways depending on the type of game in question. MU* settings have always been easy for me because I play established characters (for example, Ovelia from Final Fantasy Tactics), and my RP partners are doing the same. The setting is established, the combat code is there if you want to use it, and all you have to worry about is what Ovelia would say if Delita showed up in the middle of a conversation to ask why she *spoiler*. It's kind of like writing fan fiction, but with an element of unpredictability - because I know how I interpret Delita, but his player might have different ideas.

In a D&D campaign, on the other hand, I'm almost completely stat-oriented. I don't role-play any more than I have to. I'm shy about that in person, for one thing; also, D&D isn't the most thorough setting in the world, so I still have to do a lot of world and character building in order to have a complete picture.

For some reason I find that difficult. I've considered creating Exalts for both Gate and another MU*, and I run into the same problem. It's in this weird area between fan fiction (because you're working with an established canon) and original fiction (this character and her history, and possibly the entire family, town, city, etc., are all coming from you). I don't know where to go with that, and shockingly, I'm not that interested in creating a character that's me. And on top of that, the whole point of D&D, Exalted, and all of those settings, is to let you create your own hero character who's at the center of the story (with one or two other peons from your RP group) - or in other words, a Mary Sue.

I know a lot of you have original characters on GateMUSH or PersonaMUSH, and others. How do you approach this? Because I do think it'd be kind of cool to role-play with an Exalted character - with people I know, and without having to worry about number-crunching or setting up a real location in meatspace. I think I'm reluctant partly because treating it like a truly original character is a lot of effort... yet without the reward of being entirely original.

I'm guessing that's a bad way to look at it. After all, we're not trying to sell a novel, here. But I'm curious to know: what makes it rewarding for you guys? And which do you prefer - RPing original characters, or characters from established canons like Suikoden or FFT?
myaru: (VP - Mystina)
1. Quest-based experience vs. grinding
I should say up front that I'm primarily a console gamer, and within that selection of games, my interests are pretty narrow: JRPGs and Japanese strategy games, with a tiny bit of genre deviation - but not much. I'm thinking Dynasty Warriors doesn't really count as "deviation." Most of these games are made with the assumption that players will spend a lot of time running around to gain experience, and that's the model I grew up with. Until Dragon Age - basically my first serious PC RPG - I had never played anything quest-based.

So here's the thing: grinding can and will pull you out of the story experience, depending on how long you spend doing it. My husband's complaint is that he has to spend so much time gaining levels in games like this - Final Fantasy Tactics being the most recent offender - that he forgets what's going on in the story, or it loses impact because there's too much time separating him from the last significant scene. He also argues that the assumption players will grind for experience is used to cover up gameplay flaws. The advantage of the quest-based system, to him, is that all the fighting takes place as part of the story, while you're in the process of getting to the next plot point.

Fair enough. But after playing the DA games, my contention is that the two end up being exactly the same; instead of spending two hours running around the world map between story points, which you do in most JRPGs, you spend two hours fighting your way up Soldier's Peak, maybe picking up codex entries, but basically just running around, exploring, and smacking down monsters. What's the difference? As far as I can see, the atmosphere is all I'm really getting, here, since I don't pause in the middle of my trek to read fifteen pages of game history that may or may not be directly relevant.

Besides that, it seemed that the few times I ran into difficult spots (so sue me, I played the games on normal/easy), I was basically stuck doing the same battle over and over until I lucked out, without any real options to leave and gain more levels or skills. In some cases, a few more hit points or a certain skill might've made the battle less frustrating, but where would I go to do that when there kind of aren't any places with randomly spawning monsters to kill? Also - I'll be honest: sometimes I like the option of overpowering so I can cruise through the story-based battles. The idea IS to see what happens next, right? A frustrating battle I have to fight five times takes me out of the story faster than any amount of grinding. If it takes me long enough to find the perfect strategy, I'll just put the game down and not come back - or if I do, it'll be months later, after I've stopped hating whatever it was the game wanted me to do.

I think I'd like the option, is all. Nothing is wrong with quest-based experience, but it also doesn't allow you Aoptions, or at least doesn't seem like it. Maybe this differs between games. Like I said, I don't have much experience with this form of gameplay.

Also... I suppose there's something to be said for being presented with battles that can be won based on strategy rather than power, even if you're under-leveled. I won't deny that. But I like having choices - the kind that don't involve solutions like, "go load up that save from two hours ago and do this other quest before going to X," because I loathe wasting my time with this stuff. Grinding to beat a boss at least gives me some purpose; going back two or three hours to do this thing I clearly wasn't interested in the first time? That feels more like a waste.


2. Finished Dragon Age II
There's an achievement for toggling the game map from day to night - something you have to do anyway to complete the game.

Why? Why. Just... why.

I don't know, maybe all the required storyline quests can be accessed from both day and night! But... I don't think so.

The game was shorter than I thought, but damn, was that an epic series of battles to finish it with. I think in the end I appreciate Merrill; her story is tragic, even if it's of her own making. (It doesn't hurt that I ended up giving the wrong answer to the Dalish during the last Eluvian quest, and well... that was pretty brutal and sad, but I thought it was appropriate for the direction of the storyline.) Carver at least did the right thing in the end. But Fenris? He's in the dog house. (Sad face.) Thing is, he's such an asshole that for every event that makes me feel sorry for him, there's another one to make me think he's a jerk. I really wanted to like him. I mean, he's got that angsty, tortured past thing going. But it's just not going to work out. Besides, even with a non-mage character, I don't think I'd want to side with the Templars.

So, what I said when playing the last game, about liking Mage Circle--Templar politics? This game is like, half about that. Maybe more. I'm happy.

Well now. I need to play something completely different. Maybe I'll go back to Persona 4. I stopped because picking it up directly after 3 was a bad idea - the two are too much alike, and I got tired of the style. (Spending over a hundred hours on the same type of game will do that to you, yes? >_>) I'm afraid starting Mass Effect now (which is next on my list) would present the same problem, as it's a Bioware game and pretty similar gameplay, or so I hear. After 80 hours of DA1 and 30 of DA2, I think it might be a good idea to give the games a rest.

Speaking of grinding, Persona 3 made it fun and rewarding. I didn't have to hit level 92, but I did want those awesome persona. :D
myaru: (Twelve Kingdoms - Youko wha?)
I feel like I should put a life update here, but nothing interesting is happening. I'm trying out a new keyboard, awaiting a new mouse, and steadily working through those cold-prep recipes on hot days. Occasionally I get cravings for a cookie - just one, and that's not so much to ask, is it? - and run up against that "no wheat" wall, which means I can't go out and buy one. Appreciate convenience where you've got it. I'm not going to bake in a ninety degree kitchen.

Finished Dragon Age: Awakening earlier this week and moved on to Dragon Age II, which I snagged during the Steam sale. I also finally played Witch Hunt, but I think it would've been more interesting if my Warden had a relationship with Morrigan. I did really like her at first, but then Wynne sauntered in and stole my heart, and then I got distracted.

The Architect was incredibly interesting, though. Wish I'd gotten to learn more about him.

Soooo, the second game. I stuck with Hawke's default appearance because I found it surprisingly compelling, made her a mage-- and cried when I realized the class isn't nearly as game-breakingly awesome as it was in the first game. Sigh. Every ability has been nerfed though. The cooldown times are awful. Battles are more dynamic, however - the mage staves get a lot more exciting use, and everything is slicker and prettier. The camera is... usually okay, but I used the overhead view a lot in the first game, and am finding the lack of that option in this one to be a little off-putting. I also miss the tooltips on the minimap, but now I'm just being picky.

Kirkwall is an interesting setting, I'll give it that. I hate being stuck in such a small space, but at least the quests are plentiful, I guess? This fifty sovereign requirement to get on with the story kinda pisses me off, though. Fifty gold is a lot to ask for when most quests give me one, or three if I'm lucky, and I'll have to aim for more than fifty if I want to have anything left over for weapons or supplies afterward. Also, enemy reinforcements in some of these battles? NOT FUN. Arcane Horrors are nasty fucking creatures, thanks, I don't need two or three waves of skeletons to take care of as well. :|

The shops don't have much of worth so far. I don't like what they've done with their Dalish redesigns. And Fenris? Impossible to please.

Anders, on the other hand, doesn't bother me. Seems half the fandom is offended by what Bioware did to his character, but I don't object, and actually think it makes him more interesting, go figure. Not that I didn't like him before.

I'm complaining a lot - I hear that's common - but I still like the game. I'm just a little tired of running errands. :P

.

I also snagged Magica for three bucks, but haven't played it yet, and my husband bought The Last Remnant for me, so we'll see how Squeenix does PC games eventually. I must've heard about this game ages ago, but completely forgot about it until now.

After adding those to Recettear, KOTOR, Warcraft III, and the two Mass Effect games, it looks like I have enough to keep me busy for the rest of the summer at least. Probably longer.

I think Star Wars: The Old Republic will make me break my vow and play an MMO.
myaru: (Puella Magi Madoka - Homura)
1. Madoka, historic magical girls - is it cheating?
So, it was really cool to see figures like Cleopatra and Joan of Arc depicted as magical girls, but I feel a bit like that subverts the great things some of these women achieved; for example, if I wrote a story in which Tomoe Gozen was Puella Magi, that might be cool, and yet... why could she not be a hero on her own merits? Whether she's real or not is beside the point, since her legend has come down to us through the ages and she's one of the few female heroes (or should I say, a female figure who has achieved legendary status?) in Japanese lore that I can name offhand.

Does anybody else out there have thoughts on this? I'm just curious. Maybe I'm way off. The thought has been nagging me for a while, but as yet I haven't decided how to feel about it. It has its good and bad points as a device, as it highlights their sacrifices, but it also feels slightly deus ex machina, like they couldn't have done it without Kyuubey granting miracles.

There are like, five people on my list who have even watched this, but. :/


2. The thing with me and (not) finishing games.
I'm starting to think that I balk at finishing games not because I want more, but because I've basically figured the ending out by the time I get to the final battle, and therefore have very little motivation to see something I already know. Maybe I don't know the details of what each character does afterward, but the resolution to the story is obvious by that time. In Dragon Age, for instance, I know what has to be done, what the consequences will be, and the only real question is how everyone will react. While I do love the characters, I kind of don't care about that part. As a result, I'm sitting around somewhere in the last campaign and trying to work up the motivation to spend two (or more) hours fighting through darkspawn for an ending I do't really need.

Ultimately I'll do it so I have data to transfer to the other games, but at the moment I don't feel like putting in the effort.

Looking back, I think I had the same problem with Tierkreis and Persona 3, although the latter surprised me with its not-really-happy ending. Fire Emblem is victim to this as well, especially since most of the games are very predictable. And what do I want, really, when I (and probably every other player) would feel cheated if they didn't end with the expected resolution? At least FE games usually slip some kind of backhanded dark-fic possibilities in their endings.

Right now I feel like I want to play a game I've already played. Tales of Symphonia is high on that list right now, but I wonder if I'd actually finish it. Mostly I want to review the timeline, see if I notice new things during the earlier stages of the game, and see if any of the other characters re-inspire me - especially Regal, since I think he's one of the few characters from the first game that was improved upon in the second.

Also, I confess: he's got a pretty sexy voice. It makes me want to find a reason to write fic about him. (Shut up, I'm shallow like that. XD)

Related because I haven't finished the new FFT game either - I finally got Zach to play War of the Lions. Ha ha ha.


3. Fic stuff.
Speaking of ToS, I did start a fic in which Mithos tries to convert Genis, although I can't guarantee it'll ever be a complete project, and in some ways it is - for me - kind of experimental, because I don't often write this kind of psychological manipulation. (Not anymore, at least; I probably tried it at least once while still writing Xenogears fiction, but considering how long ago that was, I doubt I did a very good job.) To make this happen, I have to fight canon all the way, which also makes the process a little uncomfortable.

It can still go up on the fic journal, of course, for interested parties. Eventually. The whole idea is that I put bad stuff up as well as good, anyway. :/

[profile] r_amythest is making me want to write post-RD political fic about Begnion's reconstruction. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME. I also thought, randomly, that it'd be interesting if Nailah couldn't read the modern dialect, even though she can speak it - and likewise if Hatari used a different script, or if their use of the old tongue evolved in ways that created difficulty even for Rafiel when he first ended up there, because that makes sense. But I would have to review linguistics for that, and my brain just goes meh and vetoes that idea.

I need to get back in gear with [profile] awenish, too. I was doing so well before my trip, and then my reviewing/critique schedule got completely derailed.
myaru: (Food - green cupcakes)
1. Game stuff
This is a beautiful drawing of Caeda. Also, Lilina is made of awesome. And I don't know about you, but it looks like Wolt/Sue would work out pretty well. :P

I wasted half of yesterday on Pixiv. Oh well. :/ I'm at that point in my game when I balk at the idea of finishing and stop for ages. Since I still have Awakening and a bunch of DLC after this, though, I'm guessing this thing I do isn't entirely about not wanting the game/book/whatever to end.

Instead of moving directly to Mass Effect after this (since DA2 is still $60, and I don't want to pay that right now), I might try Warcraft III. Maybe I'll even do it between Origins and Awakening. It's another one of those games I always wanted to try but never had the system for, and a friend of ours lent us his copy because, in his words, "There's no way I'm letting you pay twenty bucks for a ten year old game. TAKE MINE."


2. Trying really hard to like fish.
Sooo... I'll be going gluten-free again for an undetermined length of time, which means I need to avoid almost everything I like, including both Chinese and Japanese foods. Overall the diet isn't that hard now that I know how to pull it off, but having to give up stuff like that kind of hurts. I can still go to a Japanese restaurant, but my choices will be restricted almost entirely to fish - salt-grilled stuff (unless that still involves soy sauce, oh god), or sushi.

This wouldn't be a problem if I didn't hate fish, but I do. I loathe most of it. With passion.

In an effort to get over this I ordered sashimi the last time I went out. Now... I do like tuna, maybe because I've been eating it out of a can for most of my life, so the tuna was great. Toro (fatty tuna) is especially good! That stuff melts in your mouth. Yum. But salmon? I'm eh on salmon. I found ways to prepare it here at home that I like, and it's okay raw, but it's a pain in the ass to chew that way and I don't like it enough to make the effort worth it. Haven't tried mackerel or any other type yet, as I tend to stick to the cowardly part of the sushi menu (i.e. california rolls and their infinite variations) as a result of my fish hate; I don't know if I'll like eel, but am skeptical, and I dislike shrimp unless it's ground up, smothered in white sauce, and stuffed into some kind of dumpling. I can eat one or two fried oysters, and then I'm done for the year. Sea urchin is a definite no. Clams, no. Sardines... maybe.

My mother ate sardines straight out of the can with crackers when I was growing up. I used to hate this because the smell was so strong, and I also thought sardines were disgusting. Now I'll go to her house and say "hey, I smell sardines! How nostalgic," but that's different - smelling is not eating. And I got into eating them with her for a while - I went temporarily insane or something - but stopped a long, long time ago. Like, when Xena was still airing new episodes - that long ago.

Today I pulled out a can and crumbled it up into some fried rice. It's not too bad. Still fishy, but edible.

Anyway, if I can't get over my fish loathing - and to be fair, it's been a long time since I've tried most types, so it's possible I might! - then I'll resort to ordering tons of tuna sushi and rice, and at least I won't have to feel too left out. In fact, others might look at my plate (full of bright pink, meaty slices of tuna) and feel envy.

Just like they're going to look at these gluten-free brownies and feel envy. HA HA HA ALL MINE SUCKERS.

Mariposa Gluten-Free Bakery is awesome. Thank you for existing to soften the blow.
myaru: (Utena - Juri in thought)
Now that I have a PC capable of running something besides Notepad, there are a ton of games I want to play - I mentioned Knights of the Old Republic a while back, and that's something I've wanted to play for years, but Dragon Age is the game I was really pining for. And it's awesome~! In fact, it's hard to make myself do anything else at the moment, because I keep thinking of things I want to do in the game - and of course I'd like to see more of the story.

This is my first PC game, though. I suck at it. I put it on Easy so it wouldn't kill me every battle, but it's taking me a while to get used to how the system works. It's completely different from what I'm used to with console games, of course. Not hard, exactly, just... it's a good thing I can pause any time I want, because I constantly have to juggle attacking with healing my stupid party members, especially Leliana. Changing her tactics doesn't work wonders, unfortunately. :P I guess I could try positioning her myself, but I kind of have my hands full with other things like murder.

I chose the Magi path - naturally - and an elven character (also natural). Funny how that gives you zero background options, isn't it? Not that I care, because the Circle-Chantry politics are really interesting to me, and as soon as I'm in the mood I'll waste some time reading all of the codex entries about that. There's no way I can keep up with those damned things at the rate the game is giving them to me.

So. Given the strategist's resemblance to a certain Lord of the Rings character, I was completely unsurprised by what happened at Ostagar. Just saying. Suspicious characters are very, VERY suspicious in this game. HELLO JOWAN. And the demon in the Harrowing - let's not forget him.

Anyway, huh. The female characters are pretty kickass all around; Leliana pulling knives out of her habit was pretty cool, and Morrigan and her mother are AWESOME and I love them; the little spats between Morrigan and Alistair are hilarious, both for their frequency and the way they drip sarcasm - and the way he tends to lose every single one of them. Alistair is really adorable, actually. I think I can live with him as a love interest for the female main. It's disappointing you can't be anything but straight in this game, though, because I've heard that's not the case in Dragon Age 2, and there's a lesbian option in Mass Effect, which... is predictable considering the (usually) testosterone-driven nature of game design teams. (EDIT: apparently I've heard the wrong things, and this isn't true. Good to hear, though my options aren't what I'd prefer.) However, while I do love Morrigan, I'm not willing to be evil enough for her in this run-through of the game anyway, since it's my first. I'll have to be a jerk in my second run, if I do one at all.

It's amazing how many assholish conversational options you get. XD

I... suppose I don't have anything useful to say about the game, actually. I don't think I've made it very far - I'm at Redcliffe now, not long after Ostagar and whatever the town is that comes afterward. But [livejournal.com profile] shadrad was like, PLAY THIS GAME NOW NOW NOWWWW, and I wanted to start it anyway, soooo there you go. :D I feel a little odd not being able to turn from the game screen to reply to AIM messages or check email, but let's face it - not being able to check my email every five minutes probably isn't going to hurt me.
myaru: (Tales of Legendia - Lost)
Aw, man. That was kind of a sad ending. ;_; A good ending, but a tear-jerker. And this is me not being all that attached to Grune. The script played on the chords that have maximum effect on anyone who has ever had to say good-bye to a loved one or a friend.

These days almost anything will make me sob like a baby, though, so I mean.

Color me completely unsurprised by the secret behind Grune and Schwartz, but only because the order-vs-chaos and existence-vs-non-existence tropes are so very, very common in JRPGs. Also, they didn't try that hard to hide it. XD Schwartz's end was a little sad as well - before you realize what the ramifications are, I mean, and I'm not quite sure why. Her whole argument is that annihilation has a human face - that humanity will destroy itself with its own desires. Yet, when her mask cracks and she becomes the literal embodiment of that idea, for some reason it made me feel sorry for her as a character. This is so strange to me because I wouldn't say I thought she was showing emotion. It isn't like she appeared to feel bad for what she did. I'm not even sure I'd say she sounded resigned.

That's a good word for it, though. She resigned the game, but she'll be back for the next one.

I suppose the answer, also, is that she's so empty because the part of humanity she embodies is the negativity and desire for nothingness. That's the JRPG answer: she's been eaten by the void and is herself in despair-- only not?

Even though Nerifes participated in this whole thing, I still kind of wonder what this means it is. Is it like Grune, an embodiment of one side of humanity? Did it come with the Ferines when they first colonized the planet, or was it already there and simply decided to take possession of them? This sure was a turnaround for it, either way.

Now that I think about it, this game is kinda sorta structured in a way that makes it all character quests. The storyline at the beginning isn't a "main story" - it's Senel's character quest (and Shirley's, but... not as much). It worked just like the other character quests, by focusing on only that one character's growth and then side-stepping into the next character's storyline when it introduced a character, or ended with an event that implied the journey wasn't quite over, that sort of thing. I think that's cool. I like that they did it that way.

My final verdict: Legendia is a good story experience, but I'll forever have a love-hate relationship with it. Whatever positive things it does with story, character, or setting, it offsets with extremely irritating gameplay - and by that I don't mean just the encounter rate. The timing of some story scenes - like the montage during the last battle against Schwartz - are badly timed or something, because they always, always pissed me off; here I am, fighting the last fight, making good progress-- and then it cuts me off in the middle for a repeat of Schwartz's refrain of turning everything to nothingness, and then there are two montages touching on characters all over the Legacy-- and then more story, and then finally the real "last battle." Could we not have timed that better? Doesn't a series of scenes like that belong before the battle? That's how every other game works! This was not different in a good way. It was BAD PACING.

The battle AI could be extremely dumb; the character-specific strategy options were lacking, so that limitation couldn't be overcome. Some of their design choices for the dungeons (see: chaotic fields - which were never quite optional - and unnecessarily long pathways between save points and boss battles, for example) seem like they were chosen for their dramatic effect rather than the practical - so yes, that really long bridge between your recovery point and the last battles in the Wings of Light is kind of awesome-looking and dramatic with that amazing music playing in the background, but it's also really fucking annoying for reasons I've already outlined, and the Waterway, with its twisty maze, causes a similar rage reaction.

I don't want or need more save points, recovery points, or easier mazes. What I want is a logical construction. I wouldn't mind a more reasonable encounter rate. I want to run through a dungeon and not feel like flipping the system off after the twentieth screen or the hundredth battle in the same dungeon.

So... here I am, spending half of my wrap-up ranting. I feel a bit guilty about that, but annoyance with the game design was a huge part of this experience. For every time I turned Legendia on and thought something was awesome, there were one or two times when I spent most of my game session seething. It was never bad enough to make me put the game down permanently, but I will never pick it up again now that I've finished it.

.

Oh, and I've mentioned the music was amazing, right? It's epic and orchestral and-- and recorded by the New Tokyo Philharmonic. NO WONDER. I have to buy this soundtrack.

The credits also told me Studio Gibli had people working on this? W-what? Zach said they sometimes do backgrounds for games and anime (?) when not working on a major project, so maybe that's it? Wikipedia failed me.

... but hey, I could check their Gibli entry, now couldn't I? >_>
myaru: (VP - Shiho)
1. Unlikely flavor combination?
Today was supposed to be reading and writing - mostly writing, since reading screws me over with backaches at every opportunity - and instead it was... Bake a Cake Day. Olive oil cake with rosemary and chocolate chunks, to be precise. My grandmother bought Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours for my birthday, and it just got here, so of course I wanted to make use of it! And the recipe I just happened to have all of the ingredients for was olive oil cake. Don't judge me, it was an accident. Someone put the recipe online here if you're curious; this one uses spelt flour, which I have sitting around in a ziplock in the cupboard, so it's about time I use it.

Note that, for a cake, it's not that sweet. The rosemary adds a savory note to balance the big chunks of chocolate, and the cake itself tastes golden and crisp, because of the olive oil. It's probably terrible for me you - but wait, olive oil is good fat, riiiight? Ha... ha. *guilt*

The book itself is as amazing as I'd hoped. There are several recipes I want to try, but since the majority of them are sweet, I'll have to wait a while, as I've instituted a rule that I'm only allowed to bake once a month - partly for health, and mostly because it's really freaking hot in the kitchen, otherwise. I might make sometimg to take to D&D meetings, but other than that...

Speaking of hot kitchens, I'm going to spend most of Friday in that misery while I make chile verde. Meh. At least the payoff is really awesome.

This makes me want to try those cornmeal thyme cookies again, but now I have to wait a month. The urge will probably pass.


2. Books and writing, books on writing.
The other birthday present was The 3 A.M. Epiphany, which was actually supposed to be the next book in the series. I've got a gift receipt in case I want to exchange them, but since I have The 4 A.M. Breakthrough in from the library, I'm going to use both of them and see if I'll benefit from owning both, or if one is better than the other. The names have nothing to do with the content, so far as I can tell, except maybe in concept; if the author came up with these exercises for his creative writing classes, no doubt many of his students were hacking away at them at all hours, including - maybe even especially - at three and four in the morning. I didn't know very many morning people in the CW program, though... to be fair I didn't talk to that many people, because I hate talking in general.

As you can see, I'm looking for new and interesting writing exercises. I'm not thrilled with the ones in my textbook, and when I flipped through these books, they looked interesting. I feel like I'm slipping in the craft department, but focusing on tweaking skills while writing the novel will just mean really slow progress. It's easier to just write something aimed at dialogue, for example, or rhythm, etc. I do pay attention to sentence and paragraph structure when I write, but I kind of do it by ear and who the hell knows if it's actually effective.

This adventure where I actually read all of my backlogged books is uh, interesting. I'm still in the middle of Name of the Rose - that's the book that made my back regret all of my reading time - and I can't help but resent all the latin just a little. I know I could plug some of these phrases into Google, but Google is evil, first of all, and secondly, I am way too lazy for that. I'm in the middle of day three, and Adso is really adorable. I like him. The library was an interesting concept, and I hope they'll revisit it and pick its secrets apart. I'm not that familiar with the historical setting, so you won't see much from me on the accuracy of it, though I'm really interested in their theology discussions, and will probably flip back to look at them again. I also... cough, have no familiarity with Aristotle. Shameful, yeah yeah. I'll just be over here enjoying this book like a mundane human being. Eco can write books steeped in Catholic theology, and sadly, my so-called expertise is elsewhere, sooooo there won't be any intelligent picking-apart from me.

I also got notebooks: small pocket ones, and bigger ones for actual writing. Notebooks are very important. Pens-- those are also very important. I'm picky. If I did a post on my writing tools, it'd make you laugh because I insist on the silliest things.


3. What happened to ToS?
Yeah... Alice. Alice and Decus happened to my playthrough of Dawn of the New World. I can only get my ass kicked so many times before I toss the game across the room and say fuck it, so at the moment I'm not doing anything in the gaming department. I have the ToP rom, but haven't done anything with it yet. I'm being lazy, as it requires me to install and tweak a new emulator, and then patch and tweak something else, and... bah.

Three RPGs in a row is pretty intense for me, though. Maybe I just need to recharge my gaming battery. Besides, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect are waiting for me. Also, only somewhat on-topic, I'm almost done with the Trinity Blood anime.

And then, haha, there are all those games I haven't finished yet. My FFT replay, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant, Crisis Core...
myaru: (Tales of Symphonia - Raine)
Now you get a break for a few days while I wait for the sequel to show up. (Fourth of July? What? I slept through the fireworks.)

Vinheim looked so intimidating that I honestly expected it to be much harder and came out kind of disappointed. (That big dragon, for one. I was anticipating a sub-boss of some kind, and it turned out to be a faster win than most of the random encounters.) Ah well. Mithos was easy too, but that's fine by me - he was a pain in the ass earlier in the game. I do like that he's unrepentant in the end, too; one of the things that bothers me about characters like this in other games (*coughLehrancough*) is the sudden turnaround after he'd spent like, thirty years hating everyone and hoping the world would die in a fire. I'm glad to see Mithos stick to his ideals, even if he's in the wrong.

Speaking of his ideals, I wonder what "lifeless beings" was in the original Japanese script, because when you put it like that, of course it doesn't sound like a good idea. I mean that even if the original term is exactly the same; there has to be a better way to say you want to save the world, even if it's literally true. :P

Yuan, you were ABSOLUTELY NO HELP AT ALL WTF. At least you're alive so I can write dumb Yuan/Raine fic. I have something particular in mind, and after that, ehhh, inspiration is running low.

Now I really wish I'd been able to play Tales of Phantasia back in the day. I REALLY WANTED TO and never got the chance, but now that I've heard it's supposed to be connected to Symphonia, the desire is back, somewhat. I don't remember there being a translation (fan or official) when I originally wanted to play it, and while I can trip through a Japanese game now if I really want to put the effort in, I sure as hell couldn't have done it back then. Maybe I can find a rom and do something about that.

Sooooo. It seems I'm in full-on gaming mode. May as well continue my Tales marathon and start Legendia once I'm done with Dawn of the New World. Maybe the series will float me all the way to FE12's release in the states. :D That would be nice! Of course, I don't know when that will be... maybe they'll be slow enough I'll be able to play Odin Sphere and Okami and Persona 3 and First Departure--

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