Posts Tagged ‘Random’

h1

Screenshots Of The Day: TSW Extreme Make-Over

September 19, 2012

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being on Vent at the same time as me while I’m playing The Secret World, then you’ll no doubt be familiar with my oft-recurring stupid rant about hair.

I know some gamers like to model their characters after their real-life look. Myself, I’ve rarely been able to do this because in real life I have long hair which goes way down almost to the small of my back. Ironically, the only character that I can think of right now which has allowed me to do this is my World of Warcraft night elf druid! Clearly, long hair options are rare to begin with, probably due to issues with graphical glitches and clipping, so people like me are already SOL. But then to add insult to injury, why in the name of all that is good and holy do most “long hair” options in MMOs stick you that “ZOMG I’ve just had the wildest night of sex in my life!” look?

TSW I’m looking at you! Since nearly the beginning, I’ve regretted that saucy, wind-tousled JBF look my character has sported, and had no idea how much I would grow to loathe having half my face constantly obscured. For this reason, I eagerly anticipated the Digging Deeper update which finally went live yesterday. I couldn’t stand it anymore, I had to hit the salon.

Time to insert mandatory unflattering, wild-eyed, deer-caught-in-the-headlights “Before” picture here:

And now, insert new-and-improved and glamor-shot worthy “After” picture here:

Laeyn didn’t exactly get the long, long hair she wished for, but the important thing is now you can view her entire face, which was what I really wanted. Many hairstyles and makeup options/facial decorations have been added to TSW, giving the game’s character creator a much needed boost. My trip to Ockham’s Razor left me very impressed.

My options at the plastic surgeon’s, however, not so much. Unfortunately, though the update advertised new heads and facial features, I don’t think I noticed any when I went to visit the Modern Prometheus. Due to recent rough times over at Funcom and multiple delays, I’m guessing certain plans didn’t pan out like they were supposed to. Budget cuts, restructuring, and losing a bulk of your workforce tend to do that. But really, I sympathize. As far as I’m concerned, Funcom could have taken as much time as they needed with this update as long as it launched with everything in working order.

Gotta love that panicky, holy-crap-what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into look on my face.

Speaking of which, the overall quality of the update was fantastic. For instance, everything else about the Modern Prometheus was simply amazing. There’s Peter Stormare’s excellent voice performance as Dr. Anton Aldini, or the fact that he’s set up shop inside a filthy old abattoir located in an alleyway behind a dumpster. Then there’s the atmosphere, which sort of reminded me of Saw. As one of my guildies observed, the whole setting makes you kind of scared to even step in through the door.

Not that I really needed to go under the knife; other than the pesky ‘do, I was actually quite happy with my character’s look to begin with. Though, since it was free…I tweaked a few of my features, applied some extra mascara and treated myself to a healthier looking tan. Laeyn the Vain strikes again.

Oh, how convenient! You can pick up a slab of fly-ridden meat AND get a nose job at the same time!

I spent the rest of the night in TSW with some friends and was reminded of why I love this game, and I have to say yesterday’s return made me realize just how much I missed it. The Digging Deeper patch also added a whole bunch of new quests as well as a new auxiliary weapon in the form of a rocket launcher, which I hope to be checking out gradually in the coming weeks. Funcom will probably need some time to get back on track, but as long as they maintain their regular update schedule, I still plan on jumping in every month for the new content.

A guild that gets plastic surgery together, stays together.

h1

Played Lately: Some Thoughts From The GW2 Headstart Weekend

August 27, 2012

In a word, my experience during the Guild Wars 2 headstart weekend was awesome!

One of the things I love about GW2 is the fact each race has its own starting area. Maybe you make multiple characters of the same race, but you don’t want to do the same starting area over and over again. Maybe you love a particular race but hate their starting area or vice versa. It wouldn’t matter one whit, since you can move to any of the other starting zones pretty much right off the bat. It’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about World of Warcraft, and really missed about some of the recent MMOs like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Secret World where all of us are funneled into pretty much the same zone or limited areas on start up.

This weekend, I only did Caledon Forest because I was a Sylvari and their starting area was the only one I’d never seen, as I had purposely saved it for live. In the future, I’ll likely start in Queensdale all the time, because while I dislike the look of the human models in GW2 and will likely never roll one, I love their lands with their fat cows and little pink hearts.

Ultimately, I achieved 100% completion in the zone, collecting all the Waypoints, Vistas, Skills Points, Points of Interest, and Hearts in Caledon Forest as well as in The Grove. Since GW2 doesn’t have a real quest log, exploring entire maps will do nicely to satisfy my “checklist syndrome”. The was rewarded some nice loot, including a nice chunk of experience as well as a Black Lion key, allowing me to open my locked Black Lion Chests, which led to more loot and more keys. The result was a pile of gear, tonics, and a whole bunch of boosters like the ones you can buy from the store. Better be careful, Arenanet, I want to spend money on your game, but I see you’re not going to make it easy.

The weekend was not without its hiccups. Though I was mainly unaffected, a chunk of downtime occurred on Saturday morning and server errors abounded. Methinks that a few years ago, the quality of this launch would have been hailed as amazing, but the near-flawless launches of some of the aforementioned MMOs in recent years have no doubt raised the bar. The GW2 launch was no where near the best I’ve experienced, but then I have been through worse, much worse.

My weekend was only marred by a few negatives — there were the little ones, things like a non-functioning trading post, and then there was the HUGE one — the wonky overflow system. An otherwise great concept, ironically it sure made it hard to let you play with your friends. As longtime readers know, my husband and I place a lot of importance into playing together, especially during an MMO launch. Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.

We experienced the worst luck of never being placed in the same overflow instance. Sometimes one of us would also log in first, but enter the main world last. We tried every trick, logging out and logging in together, entering cities and exiting together, partying up and not partying up, but we never did manage to find a consistent way to work around it; there just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or rhythm. What we ended up doing was tackling our personal story quests, entering and leaving those solo instances until we randomly happened to end up together. When that happened, we took care not to zone again, which explains why I’m finished with Caledon Forest but still way behind on my main quest line there.

I expect many of these issues would be ironed out by Arenanet, or even disappear altogether once launch hype winds down and the zone populations start to spread and even out. In any case, I still had a great time playing this weekend and hanging out in guild vent parties. Being part of the greater gaming community while everyone is playing is my favorite part of a new game launch; the company and the fun I had made up for any and all obstacles I encountered.

h1

Creatures Of Darkness, Prepare Thyselves For a Merciless Thrashing

July 31, 2012

Me in my long-coveted outfit from the Witch Hunter deck, which I finally completed last night in The Secret World. The hubby is in his Exorcist outfit which he says makes him look a little like Father Guido Sarducci. Wait, who? Oh, old SNL references.

Of course, the irony is that while I’ll be sporting the Witch Hunter get-up, I don’t actually know how much I’ll use the deck itself. The abilities seem tailored to a high-DPS play style which shines when dealing with single targets, but doesn’t have much in the way of survival. It also appears built around quite a lot of impair effects. This has implications for its usefulness.

As you know, there are a ton of options in the ability system in TSW. The idea is that given time, any player can gain access to all of them. What I find interesting is how the game is also always encouraging you to tinker with your deck, throwing tough fights and other obstacles your way to make you think about your current build and how you can tweak it to increase your potential. Effectively, you have to constantly adapt to the environment in order to survive.

As to why I probably won’t be using my Witch Hunter deck (much), I’m finding a lot of mobs in Egypt to be impervious to impair effects. Most bosses also are. Thus I’m still currently running around in a Blades/Chaos burst damage self-build that relies heavily on penetration, but this weapons combo also has a lot of synergy in the defense and survival department which means I also have a set-up for tanking on the fly.

I really should be branching out into firearms for some ranged damage (as I discovered being melee only has landed me in a few precarious situations) but the next deck I’ll chase is probably the one with Hammers and Chaos (Templar Warlock). Heck, with where my current points are right now, I’m already halfway there.

Speaking of which, when it comes to point allocation I’ll admit I’m sometimes driven more by the clothing items they reward. However, I’m sure the Witch Hunter deck will get some use as it’ll most likely be my go-to PvP build when I do Fusang.

In other news, “Unleashed” patch 1.1 was released today, adding more missions (seven in all, five of which are investigation quests) and new fashions — not to mention that completing all the new missions unlocks “a new achievement and unique clothing rewards.” Looking forward to the brain work out and the hats and glasses and handwraps, oh my.

h1

Sims 3: “Family Man” Challenge

July 28, 2012

Note: One thing you have to know about me is, it is impossible for me to play Sims games “properly” like a normal person.

Time for a non-MMO post. This usually happens whenever my husband goes out of town, barring me from playing online games without him due to the clauses in our Spousal Leveling Contract, leading me to seek other gaming avenues for my entertainment. Coincidentally, I’ve also been looking for an interesting yet easy single-player game to amuse me for all those times I can’t sleep after a middle-of-the-night baby feeding.

Apparently Sims 3 was the answer, thanks to some recent chatter on Twitter taunting me, teasing me, tempting me ARRRGGGH! reminding me what a great game it is. Besides, every few months or so I tend to get into control freak mode and the irresistible urge to dig up my Sims and play them rises. It was time.

Anyway, the last time I went full throttle on Sims 3 was probably a few years ago, when it occurred to me what an excellent idea it would be to take my single male Sim and see how many children I can father on all the women in the neighborhood. At the time, I was patting myself on the back for being oh so naughty! Little did I know, there actually exists entire Sims 3 challenges built around this very concept. Only recently did I stumble upon the rules and guidelines for the ironically named “Family Man” challenge.

And indeed, a challenge it was. It’s all coming back to me now: the never-ending cycle of trying to meet new Sims, juggling multiple relationships, always waiting for that elusive “WooHoo!” option to show up — all the while having to remind myself to eat, sleep, take showers and go to the bathroom. As I recall, though, it did lead to some rather comical results. After a couple generations, none of my Sims could find girlfriends or boyfriends and get married because all of them were related to each other in some way or another. My family tree was a hilarious mess.

Last time I did this, I think I ended up with around 37 children.

I plan on doing better this time.

To be continued?

h1

Pic Of The Day

July 26, 2012

I’ve been continuing to make my way through The Secret World and am currently now in Egypt, where I’m getting some major Indiana Jones vibes. Funcom, all I have to say is…I approve.

For the last couple of days questing in the Scorched Desert, I found that the main story missions have suddenly taken a turn for the more puzzle-ly. These are just a fraction of my lulz-inducing notes from a string of mind-benders last night:

By the way, you know how we’re always poo-pooing over “kill ten rats” quests? They’re not always so bad. It just made me smile to myself a little, because you have NO IDEA how nice and refreshing it was to finally give my brain a rest and let loose during a “kill X ghouls” mission after all of that.

h1

Not My Style

July 11, 2012

Note: This post has actually been sitting in my drafts for a while, but then thanks to The Secret World I’ve been waylaid by fighting zombies and solving mysteries for the past couple weeks.

When it comes to MMO characters, I think we can all agree that your avatar’s appearance matters; pretty much every discussion anyone has ever had about games and character customization is a testament to that. But there are also important things that go beyond things like face type, hairdos, and make up — what my character wears. Like, I don’t even want to talk about how much in-game pax I’ve spent on new outfits in TSW.

In a completely different way, another game that really underscored that for me was TERA Online. By the way, this was a game I held off on getting for a long time, but finally caved when it went on sale for 50% off last month. You’d be amazed at how quickly my willpower crumbles when faced with a new game at half-price.

Well, I must say the game itself is very fun. I discovered my affinity for the combat mechanics and controls, which surprised me. Getting used to them was what I initially thought would be the biggest obstacle preventing me from getting into TERA. Alas, it was not.

What really distracted me at the beginning, and continues to do so even now, are the character and costume designs. Don’t get me wrong, I mean I think they’re gorgeous, and just about everything in the game is too. But every time I look at my character, I just think UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

UGGHHHHWEJJSAGAG.

This discussion isn’t just about the hyper-sexualized clothing in the game (though it certainly doesn’t help) as plenty of people have already voiced their complaints about it (and they’d all be right). If only it were just that. No, when it comes down to it, this is about me not wanting to run around the world looking like a fashion crime and not having enough choices.

I’m talking about the general style of the models and gear, which obviously has a huge cultural component. Ironically, I spent most of my life growing up in Asia being bombarded with this highly caricatural art style often featuring a pastel palette, elaborate hairdos and ostentatious outfits on animated characters, but I must say it’s never really rubbed off on me.

Anyway, leaving aside the fact they’re completely impractical for adventuring and monster slaying, the clothes in TERA look ludicrous! I can’t even look at my character or some of the NPCs both male and female and think this is someone I can take seriously, rather than that they belong in some early 80’s glam rock band. By the time I got around to looking like a fool in my third pair of “half-pants”, I’d just about had it; I didn’t think I could look at one more person running in five-inch stiletto heels (a personal pet peeve of mine) or yet another exposed shiny male-elf navel while keeping a straight face.

This is the sort of stuff that falls into the same category as my dislike for the over-large and cumbersome shoulder pieces in World of Warcraft, or the fact I like to hide my helm on my SWTOR Jedi Consular so I don’t look like a BDSM enthusiast or a milkmaid. You might think, “Geez GeeCee, they’re just clothes in a game, as long as you’re wearing some, what’s the problem?”

Well, the problem isn’t as trivial to me as I thought. Maybe, there’s just too much of the old RP’er in me? I tend to like to do things like name my characters in accordance to the game world’s conventions, and likewise customize their appearance to fit the personalities I give them.

I’m sure you can argue that clothing items like half-pants and weird abs-revealing-armored-jackets are considered “normal” in the world of TERA, but still, is it too much to ask for the things I wear to look good but also make sense, i.e. like I actually dressed myself this morning without being under the influence of LSD? Not that other MMOs don’t have their fair share of incongruities like armored thongs or ridiculously over-sized weaponry, but out of all the games I’ve played recently, I think TERA takes the cake. I mean, freakin’ half-pants.

In the case of TERA, I understand the art style is culturally influenced and may come down to a simple matter of taste. And I’m just sorry to say it’s not for me. To a lesser extent, I think I also felt the same way when I played Aion, which could be another explanation as to why that game never stuck.

It’s a shame, because the dynamic, kinetic combat in TERA is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO in ages. I also find the creature designs unique and amazingly detailed, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is not to be beating down on yet another wolf or common bandit in a fantasy game. Like I said, the graphics are incredible too, and I am awed each time I log in to survey my surroundings.

I never thought something as superficial as art style or the clothes my character is made to don would affect my enjoyment, and in a way that galls me about myself. But then again, people have left MMOs for much less.

I can’t deny that I’m torn. I like the gameplay of TERA very much, am glad I gave it a chance and want to keep playing, but at the same time the art style frequently becomes too distracting. At times, my brain also cannot handle the dissonance created when one moment I’m looking at my boobs practically popping out of my chestpiece and the next I’m staring at something so sickly sweet and cuddly like a Popori or Elin. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve never truly understood the appeal of kawaii.

h1

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.