Archive for January, 2013

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Read Lately: SWTOR: Annihilation

January 4, 2013

SWTOR AnnihilationI have to say Annihilation is probably one of the better Star Wars books by Drew Karpyshyn, which is quite a relief after the train wreck that I thought was Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan. It’s amazing what a good writer he can be when he’s not being rushed. Now that he is no longer at BioWare, I’m glad he left us with this before moving on to his future endeavors.

For a while we’ve known that Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order during this time in the Old Republic, has a “secret son.” We met Theron Shan when he first appeared in The Lost Suns comic. Now he stars in his own novel, which further explores his activities as an undercover agent and operative for the Republic, but the book also reveals a lot more about his parents’ history and his own mysterious past.

I could tell Karpyshyn had a lot of fun writing Theron’s story. It is my experience that characters in books based on movies/TV shows/video games, etc. very often read like caricatures and hardly ever feel like real people. However, I thought Theron had a clear personality right away, and even found myself taken in by his confidence and dry wit. I also enjoyed acquainting myself the supporting characters like Teff’ith the Twi’lek, whose weak grasp of Galactic Basic was a nice humorous touch, as well as finding out more about Master Gnost-Dural, whom fans of SWTOR will no doubt recognize as the keeper of the Jedi archives.

The story is pretty much your run-of-the-mill fare, but very entertaining nonetheless. There were of course the obligatory space combat and lightsaber battle scenes, but I was surprised at how well done they were. Drew Karpyshyn is extremely adept at writing good action, but I was even more surprised to see how skillfully he tackled some of the emotional issues in this book without making them sound overly contrived or sappy. Like I said, he can be very good when given enough time to develop his characters.

One last thing I should note: I listened to the audiobook of this, courtesy of my library’s digital collection. Though I’m confident to claim Annihilation as a solid entry to the world of Star Wars novels, in the interest of full disclosure I must also mention the possibility that the quality of the audio version may have influenced my opinion. For one thing, it was my first experience with a Star Wars audiobook, so I’ve only just discovered the talent of Marc Thompson, who is probably one of the best audiobook narrators I’ve ever come across. His voices are simply phenomenal, and together with the sound effects and music I was just blown away.

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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!