Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Mass Effect 3 Ending: I Hate It And I Don’t Hate It

June 20, 2012

Three and a half months later, I am finally finished with Mass Effect 3. I know I’m late to the party, but I wrote this post anyway because I was immediately asked left and right about my thoughts on the ending. Obviously, the rest of this entry will contain spoilers, so if you still wish to avoid them, feel free move along; I’ll understand. I myself have been dodging spoilers like a madwoman dodging missiles in a Michael Mann movie since March.

So here goes. After all that I’ve heard, I braced myself for the ending. From the hubbub, you’d have thought BioWare committed the worst travesty of travesties when it comes to the final moments of the game.

Now why do I feel like I’ve been punk’d by the entire internet? As the final scene after the credits played, I found myself staring at the screen and thinking…what the hell, it wasn’t that bad.

I sought to do some post-game research and discovered that those who dislike the ending mostly fall into one of two categories. There are those who hate it because it’s weak in providing different endings (read: there is essentially only one ending.) Okay, point. In this, I am in complete agreement. Especially after seeing that video, changing the colors in the cutscenes to make things feel more different is like rubbing salt in the wound and reeks of laziness.

However, with regards to the second camp, or those who are upset with the game because they wanted a “brighter” ending? What? Why? The hell with that, I say. A not-so-happy ending does not a sucky ending make. Some of the best stories ever told have “crappy” endings. The Fox and the Hound. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Romeo and Juliet. Pretty much almost everything written by Thomas Hardy.

Somewhere in the middle of playing the second game, I think that’s when I realized the Mass Effect series is one of those stories. In fact, I made up my mind right then and there in January of 2010, that this is the only way things could possibly end. The best case scenario could only be bittersweet.

Maybe deep in my heart I’ve always known it, expected it. It’s not just because of the “hero always dies” trope. It’s just that after three installments, I knew that Mass Effect has become so huge that to demand the “perfect” ending is an act of futility (or a programming impossibility). In such cases, perhaps deeply unsatisfactory and confusing story conclusions which lead to speculation, rage, etc. are an inevitability, and if I’m to ask my inner cynic, possibly even intentional. Because hey, they got us all talking about it, didn’t they?! If their goal was a memorable send-off, well then bravo, they’ve done it.

(And while I’m still in Cynical Mode, might I add that I feel Indoctrination Theory is grasping at straws (albeit some very dedicated grasping) and giving BioWare way too much damn credit? The irony is, I’m not entirely sure BioWare didn’t get exactly the result they wanted by having people formulate and discuss IT, under the guise of “Uh, yeah, we’re simply letting the players think and interpret things on their own! That’s it!” Of course, that does lead me to wonder if those who cling to the theory are in a way the indoctrinated themselves, desperately looking for the order from chaos (!) they are missing from the ending. But hey, now I’m just getting all meta.)

So ultimately all the choices I made over the course of all three games didn’t really have a smidgen of impact on the final ending, but I can’t really say it broke my heart. Let’s keep things in perspective; the ME series was never open-world, open-ended, open-anything. There really wasn’t ever that much choice to begin with, even going back to the first game (making Sophie’s choice with Ashley or Kaidan, anyone?) Always, I just made my FemShep do what I felt was best, and I am content with the result — even if that turned out, in the bigger scope of things, to be the only result.

Despite that, I’ve been allowed to make dozens of decisions that changed my journey in myriad ways. The game’s appeal has always boiled down to forcing you to choose between a rock and  hard place and then living with the consequences; for me that means no going back to an earlier save or “do-overs”. I’ve celebrated my smart choices, and likewise suffered intense regret from the not-so-smart ones. But all those choices, both good and bad, were mine, dammit. I lived with them, carried them with me.

In the end, it’s BioWare’s prerogative to write whatever ending they want, but for me it’s the entire experience that matters. I don’t think that would have changed, even if they’d decided to throw dog’s vomit into the last few minutes of the finale.

Still, while I’m not dancing with joy over the ending to ME3, I’ve nevertheless embraced it. And that’s not necessarily to say I didn’t like it, because I think I do, in fact, like it. What can I say, I have a soft spot for downer endings. Perhaps, speaking of Romeo and Juliet, the best way to explain my thoughts on this matter is with the following clip. Out of the entire last act the game, do you know which scene broke me down the most?

It’s this one (since I romanced the crap out of Garrus, obviously):

“Forgive the insubordination, but your boyfriend has an order for you…come back alive.” And of course, that was the one objective the game had to go and make me fail oh so spectacularly. Now I’m in that bar in the sky drinking by myself and Garrus is…well, wherever he is, we’ll still dream of turian-human babies together.

By now, you’re all probably sick and tired of the number of times I’ve extolled the joys of BioWare romances. But I do really enjoy them. I’m a romantic, but my favorite fictional stories always tend to be the ones featuring star-crossed lovers that end in tragedy. I’ll be the first to admit I may be screwed up, but to me it isn’t a great love story unless my heart feels like it was stabbed through with a dagger and torn out of my chest by the end of it. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I did like Titanic. And Nicholas Sparks also has me eating out of his hand, so sue me.

Sigh. It always comes down to love and romance for me. Out of everything that happened in the ending, that scene with Garrus is probably what I’m most torn up about. Even though it has so little to do directly with the final moments, looking back at it after I’ve completed the game still leaves me feeling gutted. Like completely gutted. Lying on a fishmonger’s block, G-U-T-T-E-D. Yeah, I kinda hate it. But then again, that’s also why I like it. Which just about sums up my views of the ME3 ending.

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NBI: 3 Little Things

May 14, 2012

So, you’ve started a blog, and of course now you want people to read it. Blog promotion is certainly important, and those thousands of hits aren’t going to come after just a day. Readership is something that needs to be built from the ground up.

I didn’t plan on this NBI article being the first I write for the blog, but my schedule is so sporadic these days (read: so dependent on the moods of my infant daughter) that I am driven to bang out the words whenever the inspiration strikes. I got the idea for this post talking to my brother, who is studying corporate communications and is playing around with the idea of starting his own blog. The other day he asked me for some advice on getting his blog noticed.

Look around and you’ll see tons of tips for promoting your blog and networking — tips getting onto Twitter/Facebook/Google+, keeping a schedule and posting consistently, being yourself and honest with your readers, etc. etc. etc. — all very good advice, a lot of which I follow myself. But of course, my brother already knows all this; it’s stuff I’m sure he’s studied in his courses on the importance of social media. What he wanted to know was some of my personal experiences, the other things I do on this blog that I feel has helped increase my readership over the last couple of years. The three little things I told him:

1. Ooh, pretty pictures!

Maybe you’ve noticed, but I love me some pictures. With only a handful of exceptions, all my posts are accompanied by one or more images.

As an artist, I understand all too well the way we humans are drawn to visual stimuli. Sometimes, having a picture helps pull in your audience’s attention. Even if the title of the post doesn’t interest the reader right away, the picture might. When adding images, keep things tidy and neat, make sure it’s not too distracting and that it doesn’t make a mess of your formatting. And keep it relevant to your subject! A lot of people do image searches, and when they find your site they might very well read your post as well. Who knows, it might earn you a new regular reader.

And okay fine, it’s also an excuse for me to show off some of my pretty screenies. Screenshot whore that I am.

Tee hee.

2. Keep it clean!

Opinion might be divided on this subject, but I personally opt not to swear on my blog, or at least, I try hard to keep things PG-13. No, I am not a prude; you can ask my husband, who will attest to the way I swear like a sailor when I’m at home in real life. In fact, maybe more than a sailor (something I am striving to change, now with this whole pesky role-model-for-my-children thing and all). I also don’t have a problem with other blogs that let loose; a lot of my favorite blogs that I read do. Swearing is just something I don’t want for my own blog.

Firstly, it’s because it might deter people from sharing your articles. For example, I used to share all sorts of cool things I find on the web with my boss, because she was cool. And yet, probably not cool enough that I would be comfortable sharing with her an article that had a naughty word every other sentence. Like it or not, I also find people are also more willing to heed your opinions when you’re not spouting them off with a potty mouth.

Secondly, I don’t swear on my blog as an exercise in writing. If there’s a better way to express something without dropping an f-bomb, I challenge myself to find it.

3. Reply to comments!

Before I go on, I just want to say that when it comes to replying to comments, I believe in doing it for its own sake. That doing so has had a positive effect on social networking and building readership is just a side effect. A happy side effect. Never mind that if someone took the time to read my writing and leave a comment, I feel I should also take the time to acknowledge and reply. I just love comments, period. And I very much enjoy replying to them, it’s one of my favorite things to do in my day. I’m a little sad that I am not so good with it now, due to time constraints.

Plus, one reason I started blogging was because I wanted to be part of the community. Sharing opinions and having discussions is what it’s all about, and for me that was the whole point of this blog. After all, it’s not as much fun when the interaction is only one way, at least not for me and probably not for the reader as well. I know that personally, I am more likely to revisit a blog again and again when I know the blogger will have a response to any question or comment I might have. I also feel a stronger connection to that blogger.

Believe it or not, I owe many great friendships to those little conversations in comment sections!

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MMOGC Jr.

March 3, 2012

Born Feb 28, 2012.

My joy, my love, my daughter.

And the reason for the recent dip in blog activity :)

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Been A While…

August 5, 2011

Once again, I know things have been quiet on my blog. Life has been busy. Some of you might know that sadly, there has been a death in the family recently. Last week, my father-in-law passed away. He was a great man, the nicest, the most generous and the best father-in-law a girl could ask for, and we were all devastated by the loss.

I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the thoughtful emails, comments, and messages we received during this tough time. From friends, fellow bloggers, and readers just checking in on how our family has been doing. I was surprised but also so very grateful. I know many of you don’t know my husband, but regardless he was very touched by all the kind words of support and offerings of condolences about his dad. I feel fortunate to be part of this wonderful community.

Getting back into a routine is tough, but we’re getting there. This July was a hard, hard month. Isn’t it cruel, how sadness or stress can rob one of the enjoyment from things they love to do? I think it was that way for both of us, but it was especially bad for my husband, and sometimes I’m just at a loss as to what to do in situations like this. But I did see him getting back into MMOs again yesterday, and he was even bribing me with vanity pets to do daily quests with him, so slowly but surely, I think things seem to be getting better!

Me, I’m going to pick this blog up again. I admit there were moments over the last couple weeks where the mere thought of sitting down in front of the computer would give me a headache, and being sick for half the month didn’t help. But while the break was nice, ultimately writing is something I love doing. I’d like to say thank you once again to everyone, and here’s to hoping August wouldn’t be quite so turbulent, eh?

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Feeling Better

July 18, 2011

I know things have been quiet here for the last week, so I’m just popping in to say I’m still around. I got really sick last Tuesday, and since then my regular schedule has taken a good pummeling. It was difficult to stay upright without feeling dizzy, nauseous, and weak as a little kitten, so I haven’t been writing. And quite honestly, there wasn’t really anything to write about, because I haven’t been doing anything relevant of note.

For the last week my days have been filled with sleeping, reading, eating (whenever I felt I could force anything down), rinse and repeat. It was just…BAD. The newest book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series A Dance with Dragons has been my constant companion during those days of bed rest. It’s a monster of a book, but for once I’m glad that it’s long as hell because it was something I could savor and enjoy, and get me through the times I was feeling crappy.

Like the post title says, I’m feeling better, if not 100%. I’m going to dust off this blog, but I do have a backlog of things to do, so bear with me while I gather my wits and thoughts about me. Cheers, all!

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House Hunting Adventures

November 8, 2010

Today I’m going to tackle a topic that departs from my normal blogging repertoire: house hunting. As some of you already know, I’m going to be moving to Maryland soon. Sigh…right when I was just starting to get used to Jersey.

Anyway, buying a house is probably the biggest decision my husband and I’ve faced together since getting married, and while I’m pretty excited about the prospects, I’ve been getting plenty stressed out too. I knew from the start that it was going to have its challenges, but over the weeks we’ve brainstormed, made our lists and differentiated our wants versus needs. We’ve decided to tackle this on our own, at least for now. So armed with Google Maps and a printout of listings, we drove down today and did some recon around the neighborhoods.

We’ve all heard the real estate saying “Location, location, location.” We’ve made it our first priority, but not being familiar with the area was our biggest obstacle, so we did our research ahead of time and marked down places close to shopping centers and other public amenities while still being close to work. We even took a look at the different neighborhood statistics to get a sense of the safety in the area or how densely populated it is, etc. The purpose of today’s scouting was to see these places for ourselves, but it also taught us a lot about our own individual preferences.

Even the smallest factors can make a difference. Our first stop was a more rustic neighborhood, which we reached via a narrow road through the trees. My husband started reminiscing about his childhood and going on about how he grew up in an area much like this, while I put my foot down and said NO WOODS. I have no stomach for the bugs nor driving in the dark under the shadows of the thick canopy and if that makes me sound like a snooty urbanite, then a snooty urbanite be I. I also told my husband that I didn’t want some coyote making off with our dog, the way one had made off with his mother’s.

Another house we checked out was in a neighborhood on top of a nice sloping hill, which we liked. But the houses were built really close together, which was a minus for my husband because in his words, “Who the hell wants a neighbor like two feet away from you?” Then there were the houses where every neighbor down the road had two or three cars parked in the street even though they had two-car garages with a double-wide driveways. To be honest, I didn’t even notice. Unfortunately though, it’s a pet peeve of his that drives him completely bonkers since in his view it makes the whole street feel like one big parking lot.

It was amazing to see how quickly our list of several dozen houses dwindled down to only about a handful. Tomorrow, we’ll be visiting a few. Not sure if we’ll be making any offers this trip, but hey, you never know. If the perfect home presents itself, we’ll definitely be thinking about it. For a big decision like this, my only concern now is keeping my emotions in check, as they do have a pesky tendency to take over.

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Return Of The Pup

August 7, 2010

You may have noticed that I didn’t post as much last week. That’s because I’ve had my hands full since Monday, having virtually no time to game at all while taking care of our new puppy:

We fell in love with him even before we got to meet him, when the breeder showed us pictures of the litter. And when we finally got to look at the puppies last weekend, he turned out to be the sweetest, most playful and affectionate of the bunch (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are already an exceptionally friendly breed, so that’s saying something). We knew right then that he was the one for us.

Funny thing is, afterward the breeder told us she had given all the puppies nicknames to make identifying them easier. The males all had names like Maximus, Titus, and Spartacus…that is, except for our pup. Believe it or not, his nickname had been “Aragorn”, because she thought there was something “kingly” about him. Ah, did I mention we’re both big geeks and that my husband is a huuuuuuge Lord of the Rings fan? It was almost like a sign.

Never underestimate my ability to completely nerd up a post. While we loved the idea of our puppy having a LOTR name, “ARAAAGOOORN!” wasn’t something we wanted to be yelling out loud in a public place like a park or in front of our neighbors, so we decided to go with the Heir of Gondor’s more neutral-sounding alias instead, and named him Strider.

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