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Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Several years ago I was addicted to online gaming, in particular Ragnarok Online, PristonTale, and FlyFF. But then one came along that would blow my socks off. No, it wasn’t the all consuming and powerful World of Warcraft, it was a beast of a completely different nature. By tugging on my childhood heartstrings, by going back to my best loved film trilogy, Lord of the Rings Online exploded onto my screen. Like a bad romance, I knew it would be doomed from the start. The only problem is I didn’t want to ever believe it would get as bad as it did.

The honeymoon period was incredible. My favourite go-to race, Elves, were present, but with more customisation than I thought would be possible. Elf? From Rivendell or Lorien? Oh back up there, pointy ears, you can choose from four origins. No two characters would ever be the exact same, and I relished in this. My most beloved character was Kisa, a lore-master, human. With short hair, freckles, little flicked up nose, and a huge bear at her side, she was the absolute bee’s knees in my eyes. Kisa trained to be a Scholar; a crafting vocation where you find broken pots, pitchers, urns, and collect ancient texts, tablets, then transform the knowledge into battle scrolls, or other useful buffs, dyes and paints. I was addicted. I remember shouting to my boyfriend at the time, ‘I can’t do that right now, I’m hunting for pot!’ I dread to think what the neighbours thought.

But years went by and I lost my touch with LotRO. I forgot about Kisa, the bear, the pot. My addiction had subsided and I had moved on to a different game. It wasn’t until six months ago I returned to the land of the free. And that is exactly why I didn’t want to go back; it had become free-to-play. If you have played online games, you’ll understand why I didn’t want to go to a dumbed down version of a once beloved game. My memories of the game, if I go back would it be as good? I was to find out.

I missed migration. I completely missed the opportunity to save my account. I tried signing in, but nothing happened. Once I got in to contact with Turbine, I realised it wasn’t there any more. Kisa, the bear, gone. My gold, my items, everything, lost forever. Well, there was only one thing left to do! Start again! I don’t mind doing that since I was so in love with the game. But I underestimated just how much it had changed from vanilla to free-to-play. I’m sure it’s just a few tweaks. I was oh so wrong.

It was like stepping out of a bubble onto an alien planet you once belonged to in a past life. There was something familiar about the place but everything was wrong. Very wrong. I convinced myself to pay for one month, this month, to see if I can rekindle my love for the game. Creating my character, another lore-master, took mere minutes. I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted her to go, and how to play. And yes, I wanted her to be a Scholar. It started out fine, I remembered what the keys did like it was only yesterday I had stopped. I played for two days straight. It wasn’t until the second day I stumbled back upon the housing market. Yes, in the game you can own your very own house. I decided to scope out a little village to see what the houses were like. Sure I couldn’t afford any, but it’s window shopping. I have never been so depressed while window shopping.

The houses were empty, cold shells of their former glory. Banners of battles won waved in the gardens of homes of other players. But you couldn’t gain access. The most common reason? Players didn’t pay upkeep on their homes any more. How do you pay upkeep? By playing. House after house, none of them let me look around. I walked around this ghost town, thinking it was the only village to be like this. I was wrong. Village after village, house after house, it dawned on me; I’m the only one here. I began to panic, what about my crafting?

I only craft to make insane amounts of money to fund my expeditions to farm for extremely rare loot (I’m the biggest treasure hunter ever). I checked my mail box and sure enough; full. Not full of money, full of the ingredients I had put up for sale. None of it sold. I was truly alone.

I remember the early days when a great number of people played, when the Shire was full of dwarves, men, elves, all helping each other, going off on adventures, banding together in fellowships. There was a soul to Bree, where people with flutes, lutes, clarinets and drums would come together and play their music, turning modern classics into acoustic gems. None of it remained. As I walk the roads of Middle Earth, I feel alone. Not even killing goblins lifts my spirits. One month is all I’ll need. One month is all I can take, before the four walls close in on me and I start talking to my shadow for lack of online contact.

Whatever happened to LotRO? Whatever happened to the merry players? Is it just my server? Or have the black gates finally closed on this once loved mmorpg?

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It’s no huge surprise that I am a massive fan of the Mass Effect series. I think I’ve mentioned it enough times in previous posts! But as a fan girl of the series, winning the competition for N7 swag was the icing on the cake. I have been eyeing up an N7 hoody for at least a year. I keep going back to the store and stare at them all then decide ‘Maybe next payday.’ By that  time I’ve forgotten and thus it loops. November 7th came along and it was N7Day; a celebration of 5 years of Mass Effect. I was all over it on Twitter and entered at least three competitions. Mass Effect fans came together and shared stories, memories and favourite moments like we were all gathered for a reunion and, in a way, we all were.

I should note of course BioWare wasn’t always my favourite studio. At first it was Lionhead Studios, creators of the ever popular and timeless Black & White games. When I was 12 years old I wrote to the studio asking for advice. I am not good at programming, I’m rubbish at art, but I love your studio and I write a lot, how would I break in to the industry? I never got a response. Even to this day it mildly annoys me that they never responded. Of course I realise they are all super busy and who has the time to respond to every e-mail they ever receive? But then BioWare came along and completely blew everything else out of the water.

I was introduced to Mass Effect 1 by my best friend Joe. I only played the first game in second year of University which was three years ago. I played it on the Xbox and found the controls easy to use. The story was so exciting, the characters had such depth to them I didn’t much care if I was talking to a Turian or Quarian, I just wanted to pummel Saren’s face off. Sovereign’s speech and the realisation that Saren had been indoctrinated, well it was heartbreaking. Wanting more, I demanded to play the next instalment. Mass Effect 2 upped the game. Suddenly Garrus was up for grabs (pun wholly intended), but was pushed back by a dying assassin who called me siha. I still can’t play through ME2 without romancing Thane! To finish this rollercoaster ride was the suicide mission… I have never been so tense about a game before in my life. I kept threatening Joe, ‘If anyone dies, I will kill you!’ He gave me tiny bits of advice as to who should do what and be in which team, and everyone came out of it alive. Even Miranda and Jacob. What? I’m allowed to have least favourites…

Of course I played Mass Effect 3 and loved it, and yes I was upset about the ending, let’s get that out of the way, but I have never cried so much at a video game or even a movie as I did at Mass Effect 3. As soon as I saw the hospital as a place you could visit I knew I’d be seeing deaths of loved ones; in particular my loved one, Thane. If we just forget the ending for a second here, the Mass Effect series had me by the heartstrings the entire way through. It was all thanks to the incredible teams at BioWare. Suddenly my respect for the company skyrocketed. How they were able to collect so many amazing writers, artists, programmers, and more, was just mind boggling to me. Of course I have no idea what goes in to making such ground breaking games, but it lit a spark of interest in me that now is burning brightly.

BioWare also benefits from an amazing community. I’m not talking about just the fans, by the way, I mean the community managers, and all other employees who regularly give talks, who engage with the fans on Twitter and other social media sites, etc. Suddenly I was able to ask the questions so readily ignored by Lionhead Studios. I was able to talk directly to actual employees of the company, and share my enthusiasm for their Mass Effect series. Not only did they listen but they responded. Having won an N7Day competition was like being rewarded for my devotion and appreciation. I know it may sound far fetched and a tad dramatic, but that’s truly how much I adore the company.

I know Mass Effect 4 is slowly emerging from the shadows, teasing fans to no end, but I can’t imagine BioWare would wreck their own series. I have a lot of faith in them and I believe, despite their ME3 ending mistake, they will learn from the little glitch and continue to deliver the games they are so famous for. I would love for a First Contact War film, fully CGI, taking a page from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. I would also love a Mass Effect mmorpg, much like BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, set between the First Contact War and Shepard’s story, focussing on exploration and discovery in the  rich universe they have created. Let’s be able to play as a sassy Quarian or kick-ass Turian. Let’s explore space whilst being engaged in an enthralling storyline that can change depending on your choices. I always secretly hoped SW:TOR was a dry run for a Mass Effect mmo. Maybe it was, who knows?

Let’s wrap this huge post up. I have a couple of dream jobs and one would be working at BioWare. Heck, I don’t know what I could bring them that they don’t already have, but that’s why it’s called a dream job. Maybe I could be their small, quirky, loveable Dutch community assistant, or a marketing assistant. Everyone needs a cutesy Dutchy in their lives, BioWare could do with me… Okay, seriously now, I respect them as a company and I thoroughly enjoy their games (Dragon Age, you’re next on my list). They have given me a favourite game series that will stand the test of time no problem, and in return all I can give back is my thanks and appreciation for such a ground-breaking company.

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On November 7th the gamer world went a little mad for BioWare‘s Mass Effect as they celebrated 5 years of the sci-fi action game series. The whole day I was glued to Twitter and Facebook entering as many competitions as possible hoping that maybe I could win an N7 mug. But I was able to win something oh so much better.

I say better, I still got the mug. But I got all of that too! And all for a simple tweet. Tweet why you love Mass Effect. Well, as you may know from a previous post, the ME3 song Mordin will always make me cry, and so I tweeted just that little tidbit. And I won. I actually won. This is as big for me as winning the lottery. I know that may be quite sad but to a gamer, getting the merchandise you’ve wanted since completing the second game three years ago; it’s a big accomplishment.

My karma has been absolutely incredible so far this year, especially the past few months. I got to meet two YouTubers who I don’t just admire but respect. In a chance moment I was able to snag about three minutes worth of time with them, took photos, a quick chat before they had to rush off. Yes, I wish I could have taken them both out for coffee as they seem the loveliest guys on the planet, but I am still pinching myself it actually happened. So you can understand my utter surprise that I won this competition! A huge thank you to all those at FrostMediaUK who ran the competition. I am literally in your eternal debt!

Karma, thank you so bloomin’ much! I am expecting nothing for the rest of the year heh!

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In literature, tv and film, we are introduced to characters who steal our hearts. It might be the way they wink at the screen, the rugged adventurer, the fair haired princess, the badass sea captain, the dangerous rogue. Whatever the character, whatever the setting, they give  themselves up for offer and we lap it up. Here’s an example…

This hottie is Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, well, it’s Viggo Mortensen playing the character of Aragorn. My mother in particular is rather fond of this character and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind being swept off her feet, rescued by the super rugged heir to the throne. Was it his mysterious nature, his skill with a sword, the romantic love affair with the Elven maiden? Who knows. But let’s think of this for a second. Would my mum really want to live in Middle Earth? If she were to be the love interest of Aragorn, surely most of the time she has to stay at home, worry sick as to when her lover will return, or wonder if he returns at all. Will be lose a limb battling goblins? He wouldn’t be working your typical 9-5 job so the over time hours and trips away from home would put a strain on their relationship. Will she eventually just say, ‘I know you’re a career man but for God’s sake Aragorn, let’s just settle down.’ And what if he did? He’s lost his skill with the sword, mum will feed him lots of yummy food and he might get fat because of his lack of adventuring. Yikes. Obese and boring Aragorn? No thank you! So surely it’s best to just leave it to fantasy?

I wish others would just see it as such. Celebrities, film stars, characters in novels, there’s something about them all that puts them in the same group of the ‘untouchables’. Here’s another example, one that’s more personal so I can describe it better. Lord Baelish of Game of Thrones, my my my. I have only read a part of the first novel but it wasn’t the novel that had me hooked. It was Aidan Gillen portraying the character on the tv series that was utterly yummy to watch. The subtle glances, the knowing smirk, the scheming, the stalking in the shadows; there’s something about Baelish. Intelligence is hot, but when it’s in the form of Irish actor Aidan Gillen, it gets hotter.

Now, as hot as that all is to me, it is strictly fantasy. He doesn’t actually exist, and even if I could be magically teleported into the world of Game of Thrones, I don’t think I’d do well there. Too much back stabbing. Plus I’m no princess or heir to the throne, I’d be of no interest to him. But let’s just imagine I am of great interest to him and he wasn’t so hooked up on Cat, then what? He wouldn’t have his reasons for doing the wonderfully cunning things he does. Then, like the fat Aragorn, he’d be a home bound man. Though you couldn’t make an honest man of Baelish even if you tried to beat it in to him, he does have his own, erm, business after all. So then what, I’m married to man I can never trust whose business is to profit off, uh, open women? That’s not the fantasy I’m buying in to. I’m buying in to the secret meetings at night, the forbidden romance, the super hot se- okay. Anyway, that is what I would call a good fantasy.

So now that we’ve explored the fantasy side (in too much detail, I know, I’m sorry), let’s look at it in a different way. We’re all attracted to qualities in people, characters, whatever, and it’s those attractions that are very interesting to dissect. My mum, like many women, was probably attracted to the badassery and ruggedness of Aragorn. I was attracted to the scheming intellect in Baelish. So many characters exist with many different qualities. It is perfectly healthy to have a crush on fantasy characters, celebrities, etc, so before you think ‘Oh God, I am so weird!’ odds are, you’re not.

The one thing we must keep in mind is, whilst some fans would love to live the fantasy, the fantasy should stay as it is. The reality is never what we think it is. We get these huge expectations in our minds but the thing is, it won’t be what you expect. It never could be. Mum can’t teleport to Middle Earth and go off with Aragorn and keep his character completely the same, just like I can’t be having a mysterious love affair with Lord Baelish. They don’t exist, their worlds don’t exist, none of it is real.

But my, my, it sure is fun to fantasise.

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Life takes you to odd and wonderful places, most of the time we’re just passengers in the journey. Sometimes life will throw you a curve-ball and in my case, its name is London.

Having recently graduated from University, almost a year has gone by where I’ve umm-ed and ah-ed to try to find out what it is I’m good at. I mean really good at. One thing I’m really good at is believing that life is too short to be miserable. I have to love what I’m doing 100% of the time. Now couple that with zero suitable jobs for said graduate in the location I’m in, London came knocking. I have many friends in London who always ask ‘When are you coming to stay over?’ but something always came up. Almost a year has gone by and I realise the longer I stay here, the longer I’ll be going against what I believe in. Don’t get me wrong, I live with the best people in the universe, people who are second family to me and I love and appreciate with all my heart. The only down side is there is nobody in the surrounding towns who I can mingle with. No job meant no colleagues and the one job I did get, well, I always suggested things to do but nobody was ever interested in socialising.

Being a social butterfly all my life, I felt like I was going backwards; somehow spinning my own cocoon of anti-social behaviour. I was happy to stay inside and just spend time with the people immediately around me. That would bring my friend count up to four, if you include the cat. Things had to change for me.

So I set out to get a job in London, which I recently landed! I’m extremely excited about starting (this weekend) in one of the company’s busiest branches. Only one slight hitch. I now need a place to stay. And getting a room in London is horrendously difficult when you’re on a super tight budget. Job and location I love, teenie tiny room with little money spare. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it would sure help getting me a good flat.

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There are times when reading a book, playing a video game or watching TV will reduce you to a blubbering ball of tears. We become so emotionally attached to these characters that, when something bad happens, it feels like it’s happening to a friend. The worst thing is all we can do is watch or read on. We have no control. The helplessness is one of life’s cruel jokes. But there is a particular game that takes your heart, wrenches it out of your chest, then stamps on it, puts a few bullets in there and, to completely finish you off, sets fire to it.

For two whole games we have been on a journey with our custom Commander Shepard, meeting a variety of different space travelling races, exploring worlds all over the darned place, and being introduced to character after character. Then the last instalment hits our consoles and boom; Heart broken. I won’t call spoiler alert, it’s been months since Mass Effect 3 was released. This game is one of my favourite games of all time. Why? Because whilst ME1 and ME2 set the whole thing up, you develop proper relationships with the characters, you are immersed in the story, ME3 takes it all and ends it in the most spectacular way.

In Mass Effect 2, there was a particular character that, to me, just seemed like a bit annoying. Okay, very annoying. Like a space hamster on speed; Mordin Solus. I didn’t much like him at first, he talked too fast, spoke in the weird Salarian way, and generally just grated on me. We didn’t click. Not like Thane Krios and I. Oh how we clicked… Ahem. Mordin’s moral compass is as unpredictable as Britain’s weather. But after playing ME2 over and over, making different choices here, romancing different choices there, Mordin slowly came forward in to my care zone. And soon I found myself liking him enough to care for his story.

Mass Effect 3 stole my Mordin away. Through times of war, circumstances change. In peace things present themselves differently, and in ME3, it changes even more. Mordin makes the change and he knows what he must do. Yes there is a way to save Mordin from his death, but long story short I will never choose it. It’s not that I decided last minute ‘Eh, screw you Mordin and your grey morality’. His story arc is the most rewarding and emotionally powerful that it blasts all else out of the water. Yes we’re technically invested in all the story arcs, but Mordin sacrifices himself after an almighty ‘I made a mistake!’; a line that still gives me shivers. And this song will always make me sad.

*sniffs* I’m still not over it.

This isn’t a real person, Mordin does not exist, never has, and yet seeing his death will always move me to tears. The first time I saw it happen, I cried like it was my brother who died. I cried so hard, I couldn’t play. I was literally an emotional wreck, sobbing into tissue after tissue, acting like a big baby. But it’s kind of nice; to be able to care so much for a character, you know the writers have done a great, no, perfect job of it. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have felt so emotionally attached to a character, so let me know if you have a character who, after something awful happened to them, made you cry.

In the meantime… *loops the song, sips tea, sighs forlornly*

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There are days that are the best you will ever have, days that seem just normal and then the dreaded bad day rears its ugly head. Today I am having a bad day. The postman failed to understand the concept of knocking on a door and, despite me in and waiting for the parcel to be delivered, he posted the little red slip to say ‘I’m sorry, you were out.’ No, no I was not. For the first time in a long time, my team on a video game wiped. For a gamer, that’s annoying. And the library is demanding fees after they failed to set up the e-mail notification alerts. So how do we battle these bad days?

I do nothing. That’s right. Nothing. Ever heard the expression ‘fight fire with fire’? Ever hear that go well? ‘Cause I reckon both parties will get burned and nobody ends up happy. But when a bad day comes along, we feel angry, sad, any number of negative emotions. So do we fight fire with fire, try to dispel the negativity with more negativity? This will undoubtedly result in lashing out, verbally or otherwise, to people who don’t deserve it; family, friends, complete strangers. We feel the need to vent somehow, and more often than not the people around us feel the brunt of it. Well, at least for me. It’s something I’m working on, mind.

Bad day comes along and I just stop. Whatever it was I was doing, wherever I heard the bad news from, whatever it might be, I stop. I stop playing the game I’ve invested so much time in only to be slapped in the face a few times by lack of good team work. I stop reading the book that, no matter how much I’d like to read it, just doesn’t seem to be going in. And I stop being in the company of those who are dragging me down. Why should I continue doing something that is having such a negative effect on me? Let’s do something fun, something nice, or just absolutely nothing. Watch tv, do something mindless, don’t even think. Just do something you know won’t make you more annoyed.

Someone once told me that if you’re having a bad day, just be mellow and above all be positive. If negativity is all there is then counter it with being nice.

And if all else fails, well, there’s always a refreshing cup of tea.

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