Archive | October 2014

NaNoWriMo Plot Outline

So earlier this month I suddenly remembered that NaNoWriMo was coming up and that I wanted to have a go at taking part. Even though I’m not an experienced writer I decided at the start of the year that it was a challenge that I’d like to say I’d attempted. Anyway, I forgot for a while, lost track and I guess I didn’t leave myself much time to prepare for it. I’d had this vague idea for a few months anyway, I just hadn’t fleshed it out. I liked the idea of telling a story set in a pet shop that sells familiars to wizards and witches. I thought it would be cool to give it a ‘Spirited Away’ vibe where there’s all sorts of colourful and interesting things going on. Then I started to consider it as being something that exists within its own plain and connected to many others from where all sorts of mythological creatures can be collected. Of course, doing a fantasy story means that I have to make up lots of rules for how the world will work and its taken a bit of time to make those decisions. I probably haven’t planned as much as I should have, but I have a good idea of the general gist of things and should should be fun to see where this leads.

Rylon had always dreamt of walking in his fathers footsteps as a scholar – the leading minds in the study of magic and how to put it to best use. It was the scholars that had discovered the existence of other worlds known as shards; supposedly once whole but shattered during the great fracture. Journeys are made to other shards in search of new resources, but it requires a lot of energy and done so at great risk; The further the distance the more expensive it is to jump between them. During Rylon’s childhood his father had attempted a jump only to never return. Since then, Rylon has dedicated his life to the idea of one day discovering his father’s fate. The problem is that to become a scholar you have to be capable of producing a high quantity of mana, something that not all humans are capable of, Rylon included. He had failed the magical potential test that he had been awaiting for so long.

Rylon was deeply affected by his loss of purpose, like a boat with no rudder to direct it. He pondered what he was now to do with his life. His mother – despaired to see him so down spirited – insisted that he go to work at his aunts pet shop. Rylon had only met his Aunt Anneka a few times and had always thought her a little odd and reclusive. Her shop sells an assortment of creatures discovered across different shards. It is currently popular to own such unusual pets; Some also have magical potential and can be trained to perform simple tasks for their masters. Rylon was neither thrilled nor dreading it, and decided to acquiesce to appease his mother. It would only be a few weeks after all, and perhaps keeping busy with a change of scenery would distract him from his current melancholy. If only he knew that working at the shop wouldn’t be as simple as it sounded; grooming unicorns and handling wyverns would be the least of his worries.

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Levelling Up Faster In SWTOR

I’ve decided to put Star Wars The Old Republic on to update for it finally feels like a good time to return. I absolutely loved the game when I got it on launch, but I think a large part of that was thanks to the strong attachment that I developed for my character Sebastian. He was an inquisitor and I personally find it more fun to play on the dark side. I remember even as a kid watching the Star Wars films, it was characters like Darth Vader and Darth Maul that use to fascinate me the most. I enjoyed witnessing that corruption and the struggle to resist the temptation of power. This to me is much more interesting than the finer ways of the Jedi.

For all its flaws I loved SWTOR because it was the first time an MMORPG gripped me fully for the story and not just for experience and levels. I adored Sebastian’s voice actor and the plot incorporated a lot of the aspects that interest me about the sith. I played for a few months up to the release of Mass Effect 3, which caused my interest to dwindle and move away. Unfortunately I never did finish that story or any other, which really bugs me. It just takes such a long time to complete one character. The later parts of the game can feel like a bit of a grind having to move through large maps filled with enemies. Still, I would like to experience those stories, but every time I tried to return since it has never felt the same as that initial excitement that I had for it.

The reason that I’m going to try and return now is that new content will be released for the game in December. For starters this content is related to Revan, one of my favourite characters in the Star Wars universe. Secondly, pre-ordering with a subscription will allow players to level up 12x faster leading up to the launch. This means that I can focus solely on the main story and get through it much more quickly. My partner already started last week on a new character and has managed to get through several planets already. It will feel a bit strange ignoring all of those other quest markers, but it seems like a good opportunity to see what those other stories are about.

Thoughts On The Evil Within

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So I managed to survive all the way to the end of The Evil Within and I’m now a self-proclaimed fan. The game is created by Shinji Mikami who also developed Resident Evil. I admit that I haven’t played much Resident Evil. I’ve heard that The Evil Within is most like Resident Evil 4, but I wasn’t coming to this as a Mikami fan so my expectations might have been a little different. The themes in The Evil Within definitely appeal to me more than Resident Evil.

I was drawn to The Evil Within after watching the trailers which painted it to be a pretty gruesome, but also surreal experience. I tend to really like horror that has a surreal quality to it and plays with the perspective of the player; we don’t really know if what we’re seeing is actually real. I wasn’t disappointed in that regard as the game seamlessly morphs from one location to another leading to much confusion as to where I actually was and what was going on. Sometimes doors would vanish behind me or corridors would extend infinitely onwards. The vibe that I got from the game seemed to change as I progressed from feeling like Outlast, to The Last Of us, Saw, The Shining, Inception, Amnesia… etc… (I’ve seen numerous other comparisons made.) Overall, it seems to pack almost every type of horror I’ve ever experienced into one package.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 24 October

  • f5f01-vik-smallthings2So I caved and treated myself to The Evil Within last Friday, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing it this week so no regrets. I always get in the mood for a good horror game this time of year and I’m feeling pretty satisfied. Made it to chapter 11 so far.
  • I haven’t had the chance to see my boyfriend much this week (he’s working over time) so I can’t wait for him to finish up today so we can finally hang out – and probably play lots of video games together while eating pizza. πŸ˜›
  • I wanted to implement an online scoreboard into the game I’m building – something that I’ve never attempted before – and seemed to have had some successes with it.

Do You Re-experience?

I was reading ‘More Fool Me’ by Stephen Fry and I seem to remember there was this one sentence where he suggested that it was a shame that people didn’t tend to re-read books because we will in time forget much of what they were about. This got me thinking about the difference between my partner and I. He will re-read books, re-play games or re-watch films on a regular basis. I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s completed Mass Effect for instance. I, on the other hand, tend to get through new experiences much more quickly than he does but can only boast having completed them one or two times.

Having to constantly find new experiences can be quite costly so It’s great to be able to find more worth in what we already own. There can also be so many little details that we’d miss if we only ever experienced something once. Some people also find new ways to improve the longevity of an experience (such as speed running or adding new challenges to a game) and seem to take great pleasure in knowing something inside out. My partner is the type of person who will read wikis or find additional material about a franchise to develop a deeper understanding. I wish I could do this too, but I have a tendency to grow bored and flit from one experience to another.

The way I see it is that there are so many things to enjoy in this world that I’d much rather spend my limited time finding new experiences rather than repeating the old ones over and over. Some experiences have left a large enough impact on me to return, but I also have many books, games and films that I’ve only gotten through once and then tossed aside. Sometimes I prefer to leave them as fond memories because on returning they may not live up to expectations; people can grow and change. I have vague recollections of experiences enjoyed during my childhood that I know wouldn’t be the same if I re-discovered them now. I also find that the first time I experience something is often the best time because I’m still open to the surprises on offer. As a result of this I often hesitate to complete books or games that I’m really enjoying because I want to savour them and will not be able to have that first experience again. I think my partner finds comfort in enjoying something that he already knows is going to be good, whereas I love that feeling of not knowing what is to come. I can get hooked on wanting to know what is going to happen next.

I do find the idea of experiences laying by the wayside a saddening thought though, especially when considering the amount of creative energy that goes into them. Even if we will continue to cherish the great pieces, there are many more that will eventually be forgotten to be replaced by new ones.

Fewer Quests, Higher Quality

I’ve come to notice in recent years that I have a slight disdain for quest logs, commonly found in RPGs. I wouldn’t mind if the quests were interesting and fun to play, but many can feel like they are just there to pad the content out. One such game that I found to be particularly bad for this was ‘Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.’ It’s a good game that I recommend regardless, but I found the sheer number of quests to be a little overwhelming. I often aim to complete the quests as efficiently as I can by going through all of the ones in the same area at once and then handing them all in at once (which is admittedly an incredibly satisfying feeling.) The problem is that by the time I have returned I’ve usually forgotten the reasons behind why I was doing them in the first place. I don’t feel like I can avoid doing these quests because I probably really need the experience/rewards from them, as well as OCD rearing its ugly head.

If I’m playing because I’m interested in developing my character then it doesn’t matter so much, but when I’m invested in a story I do find it slightly frustrating to find myself falling by the wayside as a result of a surge of minor quests from minor characters. Originally It was the plot that made me want to play more of ‘Kingdoms of Amalur’ and yet my enjoyment of the gameplay was already starting to dwindle before I even got around to unravelling much of it. In fact I’m not quite sure what happened because I ended up following one quest line into another quest line into another until one day I found myself on the other side of the map and none the wiser – hoping to return back to this game one day to clear that up. I did rather like my character with her glowing daggers and magical chakrams.

When I was younger I had more spare time so I didn’t mind these types of fillers, but now that I’m older I’m finding such large games to be a little daunting (I haven’t started Skyrim yet despite having finished and enjoyed Oblivion.) In the limited time that I have I would much rather play a game that allows me to be fully invested in the main story events or goals without distraction. One such game for me was Dark Souls; the game doesn’t have a quest log nor does it have any really lengthy sections padded out with enemies. In fact, if it weren’t for the difficulty it’d probably be rather short. I can imagine for some that having to die and re-do so much would be considered worse than instead having spent that time clearing out a quest log, but for me this is much more preferable. Another example for me is Mass Effect – if we choose to ignore planet scanning -, which had some quests but I didn’t feel as inundated and I found most to be engaging. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I’d probably prefer slightly fewer quest lines but of a higher quality, or maybe side quests that still link to the main plot in some way. After all, when the fate of the world hangs in the balance I don’t think that helping denizens through the collecting and delivering of random items would be on the top of my to-do list.

Celebrate The Small Things: 17 October

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  • Had a great weekend.
  • Going to the Game shop later to get my hands on a shiny Gengar (Pokemon), and then maybe nipping to the pub for a bite to eat.
  • Met the Hairy Bikers yesterday.
  • Made some progress with my plan for the story I want to write for Nanowrimo.
  • Just so glad it’s the weekend. Been suffering from a terrible cold all week and it’ll be nice just to be able to relax for a bit. Hopefully I’ll feel better next week.

Thoughts On Fantasy Life (3Ds)

On my PC or consoles I prefer to play games that have really good mechanics and story, but on a handheld I prefer games that focus more on strong progression. I suppose it’s the difference in how I play them. I tend to play my handhelds while on the move or while watching something else at the same time. It’s also not uncommon for me to have the volume turned down. As such I would probably fail to fully take in important plot points. I can be a bit of a grinder at times too and handhelds are great for keeping my hands busy while occupying my mind elsewhere.

So far on my 3Ds I’ve tried games like ‘Harvest Moon a New Beginning’ and ‘Hometown Story.’ To be honest, both games disappointed me slightly because the progression felt a little slow. Pokemon has always been one of my favourite games because I can be constantly training in the background. Well, a few weeks back I got myself a new game called Fantasy Life and it’s absolutely everything I’ve been looking for.

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Should The Internet Be Policed?

This is a conversation I’ve had on a number of occasions to which I’ve seen compelling arguments on either side. Unfortunately the internet is ripe with offensive comments and you don’t have to try very hard to find them. I’m seeing way more online abuse stories in the news than I use to; such scaremongering has caused me to become slightly more wary. While some people may be able to bask in the anonymity that the internet provides, I think for some of us we still have a tendency to project our personal selves out there in the way that we communicate. I suppose in that sense, I feel like it is really important to be careful about how you communicate online because you don’t really know who’s on the other side. Some people find it easy just to ignore the odd hateful comment but then I’ve also heard of cases where it has caused great distress. I think that feeling safe and socially validated still plays an important role online. It is also important to note that much of what we write is available for all to see.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 10 October

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  • I’ve started to make some efforts towards promoting Share And Bake. It’s quite a big deal for me because I get a sort of creative anxiety when it comes to getting my work out there.
  • I’ve been waiting for these dragon leggings to become available for a while now and they finally arrived today and fit perfectly. I wasn’t sure if leggings would suit me but as I’m not a fan of jeans I don’t tend to have much choice for legwear. Also, I love dragons :P.
  • It’s finally the weekend and I have a lot planned. I’m going to an Alestorm gig tonight – giving me an excuse to don my pirate gear again -, possibly going to the cinema to watch Dolphin Tale 2 tomorrow and also meeting up with my friends to dine and discuss this app they want to build.