Posts Tagged ‘Real Life’

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I Tried My Hand At A New Hobby Over The Long Weekend…

September 4, 2013

Painting miniatures is something I’ve been drawn to for a while, but I’ve always held back, feeling awkward that I don’t actually play tabletop games. I thought I’d be committing some horrid faux pas by doing that.

Well, after having been assured by several kind folks that this is entirely not the case, I decided to go for it. My area of focus in art has run to working with pencils and graphite in recent years (because it’s a much, much, MUCH cheaper medium) so I figured this would also be a great way to maintain my painting skills, because boy, am I rusty. And though I’ve done traditional art painting in the past on canvas, models, sculptures, woodworking and even rocks, I don’t think I’ve ever confined myself to doing so much fine detail work; while the painting techniques will probably come back to me in time, working consistently on such a small scale will likely be the hardest thing to get used to.

mini

To experiment with painting minis (and to make sure I won’t actually end up hating it), I started off with the Games Workshop starter kit which comes with one generic brush, a paltry selection of paint colors (I actually caved in and just had to go out and buy a yellow…I cannot abide not having at least all my primaries) plus five elf soldiers. These are my first attempts (my first mini! I shall name him Kent!) A few more, and after eventually getting some actual decent frickin’ brushes, maybe I can move on to some undead.

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Let’s Revive This Thing A Bit…

March 27, 2013

Okay, so my little break actually turned out to be a pretty long break. You know how it is when things get busy; you say to yourself, “All right, I’m just going to put this blogging thing aside for a next little while just until I get back on track.” Except 2013 has been crazy from the outset, so the obligations just keep piling up and before you know it’s been more than two months gone and your poor blog has gone from “on a little break” to flat-out neglected.

Well, I’m back to change that. Part of the reason for my absence also had to do with the types of games I was playing. In January and February, I used most of my spare gaming time to catch up with the Xbox360 titles, some of which had been gathering dust on my shelf, still enclosed in their original shrink wrap:

  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood (if you ask me, this game is where the AC franchise reached its peak)
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations (I just couldn’t bring myself to do everything, so I breezed through it for the story)
  • Assassin’s Creed III (I had to give up on this for now, the gameplay proved to be grindier than I expected)
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (loved this, loved this, LOVED THIS)
  • Dishonored (I may be too incompetent and inept to ever become truly good at stealth games, but I don’t care what anyone says, I love my dark ending)

Um, yes. That would have been an overabundance of assassins.

In terms of MMOs:

  • Rift (Hey, I finally bought the Storm Legion expansion!)
  • The Secret World (TSW Mondays are still happening every week, and as always I am dressed to kill)
  • World of Warcraft (golden rule: when you’re married to someone who doesn’t have as much time to game as you, play what he wants to play during your mutual game time. WoW will ever be my husband’s MMO of choice, and I’ve been having a lot of fun raiding in Mists of Pandaria too, so I’m not complaining)
  • Neverwinter beta (very excited for this)
  • Defiance beta (with the game’s release right around the corner, you’ll no doubt be seeing me write about it now that the blog’s also been sufficiently revived)

It has been revived, yes? Yes. I shall endeavor to post regularly again. Thank you, and good night.

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Here’s my first post of 2013, whose title I confess should really be “My Top 5 Gaming Highlights of 2012…And Then Some” because while 2012 was indeed a great year for games and gamers, admittedly I found myself struggling to come up with pure gaming-related entries for this list. It’s not that I haven’t been impressed with the industry’s offerings this year so much as I find myself with less gaming experiences to draw from, because the truth is I played less games these past twelve months than I have in recent years. Time has been so tight, there are so many games on my to-play list that I never even got a chance to go out and buy, let alone play. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so behind before.

Then again, so much has also changed in my life in 2012! Let’s take a look back at the memories:

5. Pet Battles and the Return of the Dynamic Duo

Pandaren

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th. I won’t go as far as to say it’s my favorite expansion so far, though I’m aware it is for many. Nevertheless, I’m still playing it more than three months later, which is already more than what I could say for its predecessor Cataclysm.

I will say that the new expansion has provided me more reasons to stick around, even after hitting the new level cap. For one, the companion pet battling and collecting system has me hooked — 431 pets to my name so far, and I’m still hunting, always hunting. Also, the mister and I have both taken a break from the endgame grind to work on a couple of Pandaren Monks. More than anything, I love playing MMOs with my husband. Leveling characters has always been our special way to bond, and nothing brings us closer than facerolling our enemies together with our Spinning Crane Kicks.

4. 122 Books

stats

I’ve always been one to go looking for challenges, which I have to say sometimes leads me to give myself some pretty random dumb goals.

As with most random dumb goals, I didn’t really have a reason for it, but a few years ago I just decided one day that I wanted to read 100 novels in a year.  I attempted several times, coming so close in 2011 at 83 books, and being pathetic I went and retroactively lowered my Goodreads challenge that year to 80 just so I could get the achievement badge. Well, no need to fudge the numbers for 2012; I kicked the challenge’s ass with a total of 122 novels and so you can even say I read enough to make up for last year.

Interestingly, the more I read the lower my average rating for books seem to get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting more critical, or that more books under my belt just simply equals more mediocre ratings.

3. Mercy Gaming

Mercy Gaming

2012 was a rather turbulent year for Star Wars: The Old Republic to say the least, and neither has it really been smooth sailing for a lot of us who kept our subscriptions going until free-to-play. I think the most gut-wrenching part of it all the worrying I did about whether my Republic and Empire guilds will fall apart. After all, I got to meet and play with an amazing group of players, and I’ll always have SWTOR to thank for that.

I needn’t have stressed myself. The Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps may be shadows of what they once were in the game, but many of our members have kept in touch. Rebranded Mercy Gaming, the guild lives on, becoming a multi-gaming community that continues to adventure together in games like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, PlanetSide 2, and many many more. It’s always a party with these folks, who have all become my very good friends.

2. The Secret World

TSW

Never have I ever played an MMO like TSW. The only other game that even came close to capturing my heart and blowing my mind this year was of course Guild Wars 2, but even that gets edged out, albeit just barely. For one thing, while my playtime in GW2 has tapered off until I can find more time in my schedule, I am still playing TSW regularly each week because I just can’t seem to get enough of this game! I suppose it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that made it stand out to me above the rest, and it’s not just the unique genre or playstyle.

For one, I like that it came out of nowhere and surprised me (in a good way). In fact, months after its release it’s still regularly doing that. While it’s far from perfect and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it does sometimes feel like with every issue update and TSW Monday, I fall hopelessly in love with this game all over again.

1. “Baby Mogsy”

MMOGC Jr

Welcoming our first child in February 2012 definitely made me and my husband a lot busier. While taking care of a baby has left me not as free to do a lot of my hobbies anymore, I’m loving motherhood and I cherish every single moment I spend with my little girl, even though she’s probably the biggest reason why my time spent gaming has dropped so dramatically in 2012! But you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I’d gladly give up anything for her.

Our daughter has changed our lives, bringing us such joy and making us feel blessed each and every day. At 10 months old now, every moment with her is like an adventure. She is just full of surprises, and I don’t want to miss a single one!

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NaNoWriMo Completed, And Now For My Slow Recovery From Word Overdose

December 3, 2012

NaNoWinner

My poor blog didn’t see much activity in November, but didn’t I predict that all my writing efforts would be poured into National Novel Writing Month? Ultimately, though, it was worth it! Another year, another win!

Still, I have to say I came this close to karate chopping my keyboard in half towards the end, wondering to myself, “Why the hell am I doing this again?!”  (Of course, I’m pretty sure I said that to myself last November too.) Despite meeting the 50,000 word goal, I had a real rough time this year, whereas last year the words just seemed to roll off my fingertips onto the word processor.

Here are graphs showing my stats from 2011 vs. 2012. Compared to last year, you can see there are so many days this year where I barely made my daily word count, writing only as much as I had to to meet par.

Stats2011

2011

Stats2012

2012

There’s a couple obvious reasons for this, the biggie being a nine-month-old to look after this time, followed by the fact I’d started taking art commissions again and I always get a lot of projects around Christmas. I’m proud that I finished NaNoWriMo and still managed to juggle all my day-to-day obligations, but that pretty much meant my pastimes went out the window — stuff like blogging, gaming, reading, etc. When one uses helpful websites like Raptr and Goodreads to track one’s hobbies, it’s very noticeable when time spent doing those activities takes a giant nosedive.

Basically, I wrote whenever I had free time, and didn’t stop until I hit my daily word count. I told my fellow blogger and NaNo participant Rowan that I think I do a lot better when I’m working under pressure, so giving myself a quota of 1667 words to meet each day got my ass motivated to write, much more so than if I’d told myself I have a whole month to write 50K words. With the latter, I’m sure I’d only be tempted to procrastinate.

Anyway, I can’t deny I’m a little burned out. That’s the negative part about pushing yourself to write almost 1700 words a day; it’s very tiring and mentally draining, and while I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I did this again, boy, am I just glad November’s over. Given the transient nature of my memory, however, I’m sure I’ll just forget all about the pain and pressure again the next time NaNo rolls around, heh. Thing is, just like last year, I managed to “win” but didn’t actually get to finish my novel, a romance/fantasy tentatively titled Mage’s Fire (hush, I know I suck at names). So maybe in 2012, I’ll take a page from Blue Kae’s book and have myself a NaNoFiMo, as there may be a couple dozen K words left in this story yet.

In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it takes me a little while to ease back into blogging, but I’ll most definitely be back here writing again, maybe real soon, too! In part because I just vowed to spend the holiday season playing games until my eyes bleed out.

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It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again

November 1, 2012

I know, I’m nuts. Here I am constantly lamenting the fact there aren’t enough hours in the day to satisfy my gaming addiction, and then I turn around and do something crazy like participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

If you’re participating as well, here’s a link to my profile, and please feel free to add me as a writing buddy. Seeing others’ progress helps motivate me, and trust me, this time I’ll need all the motivation I can get.

To be honest, I know I’m probably in way over my head. The only reason I even have an outline right now is because my electricity was out for two days and during that time I was able to scratch out some notes using good old fashioned pen and spiral bound notebook. But I had so much fun last year, I just had to do it again. I’m no NaNoWriMo veteran like some bloggers, but it felt so good reaching my goal in 2011 that I think it’s a tradition I’d like to continue.

For those on the fence about participating, it’s not too late; just sign up, track your progress, and write! I told myself that the worse that can happen is that I don’t make 50,000 words this year, but if I do reach it again (or get close to it), it’ll mean yet another one of my ideas finally making its way out of my head and onto paper, and I do have quite a few of those sloshing around up there that I’d like to get out. Bottom line: there’s certainly no harm in trying.

Last year I wrote an Urban Fantasy, and this year I think I’ll attempt a Romance, and my plan is to try and pound out at least 1700 words a day. So, if I’m a little quiet on this blog in the next month, you’ll know why!

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How WoW Changed My Life: A Sappy Tale Of Hurt, Recovery, And Love

June 25, 2012

This past weekend was very special to me, as my husband and I celebrated our third anniversary. On Saturday we put the baby in the car, loaded up with blankets, snacks and drinks, then drove down to the local drive-in theater for our first night out on the town together in months. We ate hotdogs and drank strawberry shakes, watched Disney Pixar’s Brave and The Avengers our of the back of the SUV, and as we basked in the warmth of a beautiful June summer night we also reminisced about our last three years as a married couple. Just three short years, but then oh so much has happened since.

This was also the weekend I finally caught up to all my blog posts in my reader. In doing so, I had the pleasure of discovering an awesome blog as well as stumbling upon a mini-phenomenon called “All the ways World of Warcraft changed me.” It was interesting to say the least, reading all the earnest responses from bloggers who have revealed how their lives as gamers have changed since coming in contact with WoW.

It’s because WoW has changed me too, all right. Would you believe it has changed my entire life?

It’s funny, because my husband and I still talk about this very subject sometimes. As some of my readers know, the two of us met in WoW, so the game has remained important to me not only because it has changed the way I think about and look at MMOs, but it also has had an unquestionable impact on my personal life. I would like to share our story here.

It was November of 2007. My studies in occupational therapy and work in the Alzheimer’s ward and palliative care at the local hospital had led me to enter a period of deep depression and anxiety. At the time I was also living with a guy with whom I was involved in an emotionally bankrupt relationship, and I knew it. Add to that the dispiriting dark days of a blustery Canadian winter, and you could say I was in a very bad place.

Back then, one of the few joys I had to look forward to the end of each day was playing WoW. It was the perfect escape, a way I could relax each night. In Azeroth, I could almost forget all my worries and doubts.

I played a feral druid, main tanking and co-leading raids with the best mage in our guild, who also happened to be a very nice man. Amidst the many hours discussing boss fight strategies, figuring out our DKP loot system and wrangling guildies to fill our raid rosters, somewhere along the way we had become good friends. On our nights off, we quested together, doing those dreaded dailies which I hated even then as much as I do now. Still, the mage’s good humor and cheerful company always made them more tolerable.

A couple months later, the life I was living became increasingly more dreary, and I think something in me finally just snapped. One horrible day after a bad experience at the hospital, I suffered a severe nervous breakdown. As a result, I had to quit my work and studies and ended up staying overseas with my parents for a month, in order to recover.

It was not the restful vacation I had in mind, and things only got worse. My mom and dad treated my visit as an intervention; out of love, they tried to help without truly understanding, and in their misguided attempts heaped an unbearable amount of pressure upon me. One day, that dead-end relationship I was in also finally imploded, spectacularly. My ex threw a savage fit, took his destructive anger out on our place that we shared, and wrote me a letter threatening to hurt himself. My parents, concerned for my safety, told me I wasn’t to return to my apartment, not if he was going to be there. And so that’s how I also became jobless, boyfriendless, and homeless, all in the span of a few short weeks.

Meanwhile, I was still halfway around the world, away from familiar comforts, feeling all alone, depressed, and helpless to do anything about it. There were days where I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep and never wake up.

At that point, I’m afraid not even WoW could lift my spirits. But my good friend the mage did. We would log onto WoW but would not play. His character idled on the top of Shattrath with mine while he did nothing but listen to me on Vent as I ranted, whined, and cried, basically unloading all the stresses that had been plaguing me for the last few months. Because of the time difference, sometimes these conversations would last long into the night, but he would always stay up to make sure I was going to be all right.

I think it shocked me afterwards, that despite knowing each other so well after hundreds of hours spent in-game together he was still all but a stranger I’d never met, and yet he was so patient and kind just as a good friend should be. When I got better, I realized that throughout that whole ordeal he was there for me, and supported me emotionally at a time when that was all I ever really wanted and needed.

I don’t exactly remember when I first fell in love with him, but I do know that that was the moment I finally admitted to myself how I felt. It took another while to finally muster up the courage to admit it to him. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, knowing that if I screwed things up I could stand to lose not only our friendship, but also the enjoyment of a game in which I have had so many fond memories and fun times. After all that had happened, playing WoW with him remained a diversion I could count on when everything else had come apart, so what if that was gone too?

Well, not to draw out the suspense, but obviously you know how things turned out. My husband told me later that he himself had felt the same way about me for a long time, but played the gentleman and said nothing, knowing I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and was in a fragile state. Also, a part of him could scarcely dare to hope that his feelings would be requited. If he ever suspected I felt the same way for him, he never let on, wanting to let me be the one to act upon my feelings in my own time, on my own terms. In response, I told him if he could’ve given me just even the tiniest hint of how he felt, he could have saved me a ton of sleepless nights.

The two of us met for the first time in Toronto in February 2008. A year after that, we were engaged. Another year after that, we were married and finalizing my immigration papers to join him in the United States. Yet another year after that, I had packed up everything I owned and moved across the border to settle into the house we bought together. And finally, earlier this year, almost exactly four years to the day since I first met my friend the mage face-to-face, our beautiful daughter was born.

All this, because of a very special MMO. To some it may be just a game, but personally I know things would have been very different for me right now if it weren’t for WoW. I would not have my family. I would probably have gone back to healthcare and had a different job. I would have never left my home country. I probably would not be so happy. I look back now and can’t help but think that the day I opened my WoW account and created my druid and joined that guild must have been a true watershed moment. My life was changed forever and it would never be the same again.

Today, the two of us don’t play WoW anymore, but the game and our characters still hold a special place in our hearts. A mage and druid, now husband and wife. We remain avid gamers, continuing to play MMOs as a couple, all the while honoring our (*sigh*) spousal leveling contract.

Partners in-game, partners in life. When I was at my lowest, he helped me get better, and continues to heal me still — and yes, pun absolutely intended.

Gaming is happiness.

Here’s to many more years of both, babe.

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SWTOR On My Wall

June 4, 2012

Every year, spring cleaning leaves me with a dilemma of what to do with my old graphic tees that don’t fit anymore or that are so threadbare that I’d never wear them again. It’s hard to bring myself to get rid of them, because usually I love the design, or it’s the shirt itself that holds sentimental value.

Last year I played the Star Wars: The Old Republic demo on both days of PAX East, scoring myself some free swag which included a SWTOR shirt on each day. On one of those days, my husband was with me so he received a shirt as well, which he promptly unloaded on me. On another day, a nice fan I met also gave me his tee. The point is, at the end of the weekend I found myself burdened with four SWTOR T-shirts, all of which fit like a tent on me, of course. You never ever find anyone giving out fitted tees or even size S at these things.

That’s the trouble with free shirts. As swag, they’re awesome, but when it comes to being worn, they’re often not very well made, they’re hardly ever the right fit, and — well, let’s face it — very rarely something you’d want to wear out in public anyway. I’ve worn my SWTOR shirts maybe…twice? Both times for cutting grass, I’m sure.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw out my tents — er, shirts — or give them away, so this weekend I laid a couple of them out and stapled the crap out of them over wooden frames made from canvas stretcher bars. The Republic shirt gave me a bit of trouble; the main thing was to get it nice and evenly stretched out so I didn’t end up with a egg-shaped symbol (harder than it sounds when you’re trying to do this all alone and with a too-large staple gun taking up one hand!) I kinda like what I ended up with. I can actually keep the shirts now, and at least they’ll see the light of day rather than lie crumpled and forgotten at the bottom of my dresser drawer.

They’ll be joining the other gaming/geek posters on the walls of our “Gamer Cave” soon. That’s just like a man cave…except that, you know, I use it too.

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