Archive for the ‘Beyond WoW’ category

The Kingdoms of Amalur Wrap-Up

July 30, 2018

The last screenshot!

After six or eight or whatever (I can’t remember when I started) months and apparently 304 hours including AFK time, I decided that I’d gotten my full of Kingdoms of Amalur and clicked Exit Game for the last time. As the screenshot betrays, it was actually about a month ago, but some recent, happy changes in my life have me locked in one of two states: 1) at work 2) unconscious (I know it doesn’t sound happy, but I swear it is!), neither very conducive to game write ups.

I played through the whole storyline, did all the non-bugged quests I could find and completed both DLCs. I did Legend of Dead Kel before finishing the story and Teeth of Naros after. Apparently, I accomplished 82% of the achievements – I think most of the ones I didn’t do were the lawbreaking ones…I’m way too goodie-goodie for games with a crime system. According to the global stats page, 11.9% of players beat the game. Which is actually pretty good given that only 87.4% finish the intro and the game is LONG.

About the DLCs

If you’re reading this and are considering playing, I recommend not spoiling the DLCs for yourself. I had a blast playing through them but most of the fun came from having no idea what to expect and being constantly surprised, asking myself “what will they think of next?”. I bet the devs had a grand time designing the add-on content. The tone in both of them is definitely more…out there… than the regular game.

I’ll spoil this: Naros, where the best views are from the sewers.

Storywise the DLCs take place before the ending but tonewise, they feel better after the SRS BZNS of the war is taken care.

I was sad at the end

The main story kind of takes a backseat to you kind of, um, walking around and looking at stuff. Since I was adamant to do ALL THE QUESTS, toward the end (or more accurately, toward 2/3s in), I was itching for something to happen. I mean, there’s only so many ways to keep “help this village” fresh.

The story does climax and resolve nicely. I wasn’t overly invested since 98% of my time was spent killing spiders and breaking curses for villagers (you know how it is) so it would have taken something seriously awful to disappoint, but still. The game fed me line by the line the information I’d been digging for over the last 250 hours and while it doesn’t give up everything (I think at this point, the writers were still hopeful for a sequel), there was enough to quench my thirst. And as the ending bit played, I was surprised at the pang of sadness kicking me in the chest.

Was very impressed by the voice acting of Abby Craden as Alyn Shir, and really, the character of Alyn Shir as a whole. No fashion or practical sense whatsoever, but otherwise a character that I got quite attached too. Would have probably been way less sad if the game didn’t make her go foreshadow the Sequel That Will Never Be. (Was that a spoiler? Sorry if that was a spoiler.)

What’s up with all these gear sets?

Yes, that’s my ending thought on the game. Probably remnants from when the game was supposed to be an MMO, there are SO many gear sets. But by the time you get around to collecting enough pieces to wear, the gear is completely useless. (In fact, most of the pre-made gear is so inferior to what you make via blacksmithing that even early on, almost all the loot you find does nothing but take up room in your very limited storage box.)

Amalur gear – pretty but useless. Good for making collages that take way, like waaaay too long.

Overall, Amalur was a fun time. I don’t think I’ll be revisiting it soon (replayability is ehhhhh but YMMV!) but I’m glad to have explored all the zones, talked to all the farmers and kicked out evil invaders for a good 300 hours. It’s a shame the journey ends here. The game’s weaknesses mainly come from how we get a single player RPG in an MMO-intended infrastructure. A sequel with the right aim: to be a single player RPG in a single player RPG environment- would have the potential of creating that elusive exquisite gaming experience that I’m always looking for. It seems, however, that I need to keep looking.

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Into the Steam Backlog: Kingdoms of Amalur

February 3, 2018

I’m working reeeeallly hard to tear myself away from Kingdoms of Amalur long enough to stretch my out-of-shape writing muscles.

(Technically Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning but the “:” is highly unnecessary given the franchise’s tragic standalone game fate. Then again, abbreviating to KOA:R prevents all sorts of confusion with campground chains.)

As if I wasn’t already struggling to write about games these days – I have no regrets walking away from social gaming but single player adventures are way less exciting to share – KOA (:R) is huge, has just the right amount of grinding (sweet spot juuuust between “not enough” and “what’s the point?” and is so ridiculously and unexpectedly fun that I find myself thinking “I could dust off the blog… OR! I could do ONE MORE QUEST!”

Kingdoms of Amalur: It’s not cutting edge, but it’s pretty.

For background info, it’s the usual story of I bought the game during a Steam sale. Black Friday I think. I can’t remember what I paid, but it was a good deal. Especially since, unlike most Steam purchases, I’m actually playing the game and staying focussed requires no effort on my part.

I had heard of it before. It made headlines a few years back, though it was less for its contribution to the industry and more for the unfortunate bankruptcy it inflicted on its creators. Flashback to the era of gaming companies racing to birth the “WoW killer” (which I always thought was stupid, but then again, for all my decade of serious WoW playing, I despise other people in my games and don’t care for MMOs so I’m kinda biased. I suppose it’s better than today’s trend of thinly veiled micro-transaction storefronts masquerading as games.) 38 Studios jumped into the race, ran out of money, wrapped up their MMO as a single player game, defaulted on their loan payment and crashed out of existence. The game got decent reviews but didn’t sell well, and when you play it you completely understand.

My memory circa 2012, the year it was released, is a little foggy but I feel like this is a game that plays better now as nostalgia fodder than it did as a new release.

It was came out early that year, a few months after giants Skyrim and SW:TOR and a few months before equally giant Mass Effect 3. There were other big games around the time, but those are the three I’ve played and they target a pretty similar demographic to KOA. And, poor KOA, didn’t perfect exploration and open world the way Skyrim had, the writing wasn’t as solid as SW:TOR and, well, you can’t really compete with the final installment of a beloved series in any circumstance, but compared to Mass Effect 3, the story is shallow and the graphics are shit.

So KOA is hardly the only game to do this, but it drives me absolutely bonkers. Dark to be edgy? Trashy but forgivable. So dark you can’t see anything? WHYYYYYYYY! And this is with brightness turned all the way up.

But played as an “old game” nowadays, it scratches the classic RPG itch I didn’t know I had. I’m constantly reminded of my first love (or at least one of my first loves) Might and Magic VI, but with smoother combat, better inventory management (not perfect by any means, I NEVER SAID PERFECT, but better), good voice acting (I hear Cullen’s voice everywhere, I can’t complain!), decent writing, less weird story. You can forgive the shitty graphics because old game! You can live with the bugs because, hey, unlike my other vintages games, it doesn’t crash every 15 minutes. The game-play is brilliantly flexible, one of my favorites ever. Possibly my favorite ever. I started off thinking I’d play a mage, then I ended up in warrior style and eventually settled as an uncommitted stabby, creepy rogue. I swap my weapons around by rolling my mouse wheel and I use all 12 of my thumb buttons. I don’t know if I’d want this in a modern game but in an “old game” the freedom is the best! And all the skills, talents trees, stats, collectibles! I feel like the game was designed by people who genuinely love old style RPGs yet totally respect modern gamers’ attention spans.

Oh, and there’s none of that dated D&D style rolling based combat. I know there’s still a market for that (they come out of the shadows when they overhear me complaining about I never finished SWOTOR 2 because I hated the combat so much – also Redbeard at Parallel Context even wrote a guide to it a few days ago in the Baldur’s Gate context – worth checking out if, like me, that style of play doesn’t come naturally) but, me, I sing high praise at whatever gives me that old RPG feel without that detested randomness.

Unlike some recent releases which may or may not have been flops for their creators (*cough* MEA *cough* Destiny 2 *cough*) you can totally tell where the money went. The scale of the game is HUGE. I don’t know if it’s Skyrim huge (it’s been awhile since I’ve played Skyrim) but I think the size is comparable. Yet each of the hundreds of NPCs has a story, a personality and a quality voice actor. The Amalur lore is interesting, Dragon Age Thedas interesting (clarification: the lore, not the story itself!). I hadn’t even made it out of the first zone and my mind was blown by how much TLC was poored into sweet Kingdoms of Amalur. The investment was probably misplaced: I think depth over sprawl could have secured Kingdoms of Amalur legendary game status and thinking about it makes me sad.

There you have it though, Kingdoms of Amalur (:Reckoning): a sad casualty of the WoW killer race, but still worth a few 100 hours of playtime. Would recommend. Am going back to playing.

Isn’t my character just adorable in her tribute to Mass Effect armour?

Finally, Project “Dylan” is a Little Bit Revealed

June 13, 2017

I think I read somewhere that Bioware’s new game was originally codenamed Dylan because it aims to be the Bob Dylan of video games. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but no matter how you look at it, it’s quite ambitious.

Bioware is more of a trend follower (or adapter?) than a trendsetter these past years. I suppose that’s the downside of getting big: you can only react to current popularity, pro-activity is too risky. But maybe Bob Dylan wasn’t a trendsetter either. I don’t know, his peak was before my time. Maybe it just means the game will be poetic, have cryptic lines and produce a lot of content. Or more likely they hope it’ll still be making waves 50 years from now.

Anyway, Dylan was revealed to be called Anthem and somewhat confirmed speculations that the game would be similar to Destiny.

I’ve never really watched a video game trailer ever (except for ones at gaming conventions where I’m confused, have no idea what I’m looking at and totally embarrass myself if eager devs ask what I think), but I watched both of Anthem’s trailers. Then I watched about 2 hours of trailers for other games. Then I watched Destiny trailers a few times to see what all the comparisons are about.

Post-apocalyptic

I was expecting this. After all, post-apocalyptic is what all the cool kids are doing these days. That or zombies. But I feel like zombies are going out of style. (Much to my happiness. I hate zombies.)

The trailer doesn’t actually say the story takes place after a massive destruction, but you have a walled middle eastern/south asian-style medieval city with random sci-fi elements and overgrown ruins outside so post-apocalypse would be a pretty safe assumption.

I haven’t played Destiny so it’s hard for me to compare, but I understand that the main premise is about the same: a walled surviving city surrounded by a savage outside world. Destiny looks more space sci-fi, though, with aliens and travel to other planets, while Anthem promises lots about robot suits.

Robot Suits

Never been a fan of robot suits. But I was never a fan of saving the galaxy from ancient alien robots as a military character in a shooter game either. Then I met Mass Effect and fell in love. I think I enjoy a good narrative enough that with the right story, told the right way, I could fall head over heels for just about anything. (Except maybe zombies. Need to be convinced on that one. No, wait! Don’t.)

Am impressed about the flying and swimming. Especially the flying. Love flying.

Co-op and solo play

According to the trailers and interviews/tweets from devs, the game will be playable solo and as co-op with friends. Unclear whether there is the option to make new friends either through the hubs or via matchmaking, though I would expect there to be. I’m an associal asshole who complains whenever there are strangers in my game, but generally people stick around in a game more when they can make friends. Even I, in all my reluctance, got hooked to WoW for a decade that way.

PvP is not confirmed yet. Jonathan Warner (game director) made that very clear in his interview. I would be very surprised if there isn’t PvP, the PvP market is too big to ignore, but I do think they’ll take into consideration that their fanbase tends to be more solo and co-op oriented. I can see fun side-PvP like battlegrounds or arena multiplayer.

I’ve said for years (though not on this blog so if I’ve never ranted to you IRL about this, you’ll just have to take my word for it) that what SWTOR should have been is a primarily solo game where you could invite your friends into your game (I called it Diablo 3 style because Diablo 3 was the only game I knew of at the time that worked that way), and interactions with strangers take place in hub cities, not in the wild where they break your immersion, gank you, taunt you and/or steal your quest objectives. So if this is the direction Anthem ends up taking, I’m excited to see what comes of it.

Since Andromeda was relatively weak story wise, I am craving a game that can recreate the emotional experience I got with the original Mass Effect trilogy. I don’t think Anthem, as co-op and exploration heavy game will be able to do that (the co-op aspect alone would kill it for me, I need privacy to feel), but it’s ok. I’m sure Dragon Age 4 will (one day in the distant, distant future) deliver, and in the meanwhile, Anthem will be something fun Ed and I (along with maybe old gaming friends we’ve lost touch with?) can do together.

Still A Long Wait

It’s actually fun to be anticipating a game. I know it sounds weird, but it hasn’t happened to me very often. In past years, as a WoW blogger, I rarely ventured outside the realm of “things I did with my guild” and “this is how I did this thing with my guild”. I didn’t pay attention to other games unless someone put them in my face. Then I was living out of backpack for two years and technology was reserved for researching guesthouses and bus schedules.

I feel like I’m expanding my horizons, even if my horizons are, for the time being, just reinforcing how much of a Bioware fangirl I am.

But anyway, what’s the estimated wait time? Fall 2018 or something?

*sigh* That’s forever.

10 Things I’ve Been Doing While Not Blogging

March 9, 2014

That’s right, it’s time for a quarterly blog update!

Since all my posts for, like, the past three years or something have basically been “why I’m not writing”, I figured this time I’d give it a fun twist and share my exciting adventures Cosmo-style!

1- Visiting Nelson, BC

I had booked my January vacation time a looooooong time ago with plans to bike around Samoa. Sometime after then, I met the boy and we decided to go to Taiwan instead. After some thought, though, we decided that we should save for our Epic Journey next year and keep it simple. So he flew out out here, we hopped in my car and drove across the provincial border to visit my middle brother who lives in a settlement called Nelson.

Given Nelson‘s reputation as a hippy town, I was kind of expecting a collection of tents. To my surprise, Nelson is a full sized city with a busy downtown, lots to do and a ton of personality. We were there for about three days. In that time we visited some parks, toured a museum, ate delicious, delicious food (the best thing about BC, I think, is that it’s one of the few places in Canada where you can eat veggies that taste like something, EVEN IN WINTER!!!), skiied at Whitewater, learned to cross country ski at the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and relaxed at the Ainsworth Hot Springs.

We extended our stay a little bit when we found out Fred Penner was booked to play (a “grown ups” concert) that Saturday. Sadly, his flight got delayed and we couldn’t stay long enough for him to get to town. (My brother got to see him, though, said it was fantastic. I’m so jealous!)

What I took home from my trip to Nelson, though, was the cheerfulness and the passion of the people who live there. My brother always says to me: “In Nelson, everyone is happy all the time. We’re just all so happy to be here.” It’s true. No matter where we went – restaurant, resort, rental place, museum, info center – we were always greeted with an energy that just radiated love. It was a refreshing change from Alberta’s typical disgruntled, fast paced, cold customer service. To where I seriously considered looking to moving there after I get back from Asia. A tad too crowded for me though, and too far south.

2- Celebrated Burns night. Twice.

The whole point of rushing to Edmonton from BC was to attend Fannon‘s annual (and very fun) Burn’s night. While I have very little exposure to either poetry, scottish litterature or Robbie Burns, Fannon’s parties are always a good time and it’s kinda nice to discover my scottish heritage. I didn’t pick out a poem until the night itself (it’s hard to know what I’ll want to express ahead of time – I can’t prechoose poems for readings anymore than I can plan a meal before I’m hungry) but I did do my homework by reading all about Burn’s life (of which I remember little except for that he was really into women and had a lot of kids) and studying proper Burn’s night protocol (do any informal Burn’s suppers ever follow the whole protocol?).

I ended up reciting Winter: A Dirge. Didn’t fit the mood too much (parties, when executed properly, are happy while the poem is not happy at all), but it was quite enjoyable to read out loud. More enjoyable than I expected, actually. I should read poems out loud more often.

We ended up forgetting to sing Barret’s Privateers (not protocol or even scottish, I think, but an annual house tradition nonetheless), which means that my ENTIRE YEAR of practicing in my car (that’s right, my trips to Edmonton have been three hours each way of me singing myself hoarse with The Irish Descendents blasting on the stereo) was for naught. Next year. I’ll attend the party from Vietnam via Skype and I WILL SING BARRETS PRIVATEERS.

Yes, yes, I know this bullet says I celebrated Burns night twice. Which is true. The other party was even less formal, but still, on our drive from BC to Edmonton, we stopped at the Kicking Horse Hostel in Golden (fantastic hostel, by the way – if you’re looking for a small yet friendly town to ski and party in, check out Golden and stay at the Kicking Horse Hostel) on January 25. January 25, which is the official Burns night. The hostel owner happened to be originally from Scotland, so we gathered around the bonfire with some Glayva and some Innis and Gunn to recite some verses. Our performances were more of the train karaoke variety (that’s right! Train karaoke! When you play PS2 Karaoke using a train car as your screen – the joys of having a projector and being right by the train tracks!) than classic Scottish litterature, but it was a good night as well. And what matters, really, is that the night was good.

3- Meeting David Gaider

While in Edmonton, I figured I’d get ahold of my friend Ben (@ElBne on Twitter) since it had been almost FOREVER since we’d gotten together AND because he always says he has horses. Like most girls, I like horses.

Anyway, he ended up being in town that weekend (instead of at home), which meant no horses but still much oppertunity to hang out (and introduce the boy!). We made plans for supper at New Asian Village and I didn’t think any more of it. To my surprise, he brought a friend. To my bigger surprise, his friend was David Gaider. I knew they were friends but I was NOT prepared!

I had to work really hard to avoid squealing and jumping up and down like the crazy fangirl that I am. I had just finished reading Asunder which I devoured in a total of two intense reading sessions (it was a good book) too so self-restraint was a challenge.

It was a fun supper – David Gaider is just as interesting and insightful in person as he is when he writes and Ben always livens up the party. The hours went by waaaaay too fast!

4- Discovered the hazardous world of phone games

I got hooked on Puzzle and Dragons while in New Orleans last November. Which, I think, is what happens to most people who give Puzzle and Dragons a try. Then I drowned my phone. Because my priorities are clearly in the right place, my first thought was “oh no, my game!”.

I rushed to The Source to buy a new phone, but sadly, my game was gone. So I figured I’d give another game a try. I had downloaded something called Pet Shop Story awhile back but never played it. Now was a good time.

Ugg.

Before I knew, I had 4 “story” and one “match 3” games on the go. Like some kind of sick phone junkie, I’ve been stuck on my phone, swapping from game to game, queueing up my food, pets and clothing orders.

At least now my coworkers don’t complain anymore that I never check my phone.

5- Worked a ton

For the entire month of February, my collegue was on vacation. Because of a misfortune, she ended up stranded in New Zealand and ended up being away until into March. And because I mentionned needing some extra hours, head office relocated my relief pharmacist, leaving me alone to work the first 15 (11 hour + 3-4 unpaid hours to finish paperwork/tidy up) shifts of February. I was frustrated, hungry (most companies, including the one I work for, don’t allow pharmacists to take breaks) and sore. But at least I made a lot of money!

Even beyond that, I worked a lot. Most days, I would arrive before 9 am, then not leave until almost midnight. I missed the boy, I missed gaming, I missed writing, I missed being outside. And most of all, I really missed me. I ended up getting pretty obsessive too. Even on the few days off I had, I ended up going in to do write-ups because I couldn’t stop thinking about work.

Now that my collegue is back, I have a few days off. I was careful to make a lot of plans (am currently sitting in a hostel in Banff!) so I wouldn’t be tempted to go in. Today was a little hard to tear away, but I expect it to get better.

6- Got sick

So funny story! Within my first few shifts of February, my legs starting feeling cold. Then numb and tingly. Then my muscles got weird and tense and my ankles and knees wouldn’t bend right.

I suppose it is for the best that my MS attack happened while I didn’t have any days off. It’s hard to be on your feet for 11-16 hours without a break when your lower body is rebelling, but had I worked a lot and been healthy, I would be bitter that I wasn’t out skiing. And if I’d been sick with a lot of free time, I’d be freaking out over the waste of perfectly good days off.

While the symptoms were similar to this attack, I didn’t end up howling in the hospital, which is an improvement. I don’t know if the spasticity around my ribcage just wasn’t as intense or if I’ve become better at avoiding aggravating factors, but I was more incomfortable than in pain.

It’s been getting better too. I’m not 100% quite yet, but I will try skiing again tomorrow. Should be good times.

7- Found a New Challenge Mode Group

Ben (yes, the same Ben) comes up with the best ideas. This time, he decided to get a challenge mode group together (yes, for WoW. I still play that.) and asked me if I was interested. My last group stopped running them after our tank left us for another game and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t given it second thoughts. Of course, I was super excited.

Sunnier and Arielle, two people who I’ve kinda always wanted to get to know but never had an oppertunity to, were also on board (Ben has a lot of friends in high places, it seems). Ed (the boy) grabbed his hunter and we had a group!

We’ve been doing pretty good too: 4 golds in 3 nights (at the rate of one night per week), greatly thanks to Arielle who knows every challenge mode like the back of his hand. I’m kinda getting carried but at this point, as long as no one else minds, neither do I. They’re all very patient with my srew ups and I’m getting good practice for raids. Because my raid knows I’m desperetely in need of practice.

8- Celebrated my One Year with Cadenza

Speaking of my raid, the other day I realized that I have managed to not get kicked from Cadenza for over a year!

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been more than a year since I died a bigillion times on that Heart of Fear sonic disk boss during my trial. From what they told me, it seems like it’s hard to believe for them too.

My relationship with Cadenza has been really different from my relationships with other guilds. Not sure if it’s because I’ve learned my lesson, or because I don’t have the flexible schedule of a student anymore or because the structure of Cadenza just doesn’t allow that sort of thing or a combination of all of the above, but I’ve been way, like waaaay less emotionally involved than ever before. I show up, do what I’m told, get kills, then log off. And I’m okay with that.

I do miss my old days of experimenting with holy pally stuff, of knowing everyone, of knowing all the fights and of telling everyone else they’re wrong, but at the same time, the lack of emotional rollercoasters is very enjoyable. I don’t know most of my guildies and I kinda feel like the stupid tag-along kid sibbling in healer chat, but I have made a few friends and I’ve had a blast at all the guild meetups I’ve been to. I even met my boyfriend through the guild, the first time I’ve ever met someone through WoW, which has got to mean something.

In case anyone was wondering, we’re working on Heroic Paragons now. A kill seems to be coming along soon, but, you know, stupid mistakes and stuff getting in the way. (EDIT: As I hit the publish button, I got a message that they killed Paragons – I’m not raiding due to shitty hostel internet. So it sounds like we’re working on Heroic Garrosh now.)

9- Bought a Juicer

I was at work the other day (because that’s always where I am – at work) complaining about how I can’t eat vegetables because they’re expensive, they taste nasty (remember I live in rural Alberta where veggies come in two sorts: frozen or rotten) and I can’t prepare them before they become unedible. Then a coworker talked about juicing.

I thought to myself: “I like juice”.

Shortly thereafter, I became the proud owner of a 70$ juicer.

Here’s the verdict: the culture surrounded juicing is targetted at people who believe anything they read on the internet (obviously, anyone who knows more than three biochemistry terms is a health expert), it’s really expensive (1 litre of store bought juice is 5$, 1 litre of juiced juice is about 15$ if you’re using anything but apples), it goes bad really fast (apparently preservatives are in food for a reason) and cleaning up takes longer than actually drinking the juice. However, the juice DOES taste a lot better than store bought juice and it is an effective way of sneaking veggies into my diet. I expect to be way less constipated now.

10- Decided to get eye surgery

Ed and I were talking about all the eye equipment I’ll need for our epic journey. Spare glasses, contacts, contact gear, prescription sunglasses… For that price I could just get lazik!

Two days later, I was at the Lazik clinic for a consult. Shortly after, I was booked for surgery on May 22 (I would have gotten in sooner but my insurance is on cooldown until then).

I’d been holding off because my eyesight isn’t stable yet, which it turns out, is not a valid reason to hold off. So yeah, I expect to be not-blind in a few months. I’m very excited!

* * *

And that concludes 10 things I was doing while not blogging!

I hope the three of you who have not given up on me are also doing well and I hope to write again within the year. Cheers!

Blizzcon and the longer way home

November 22, 2013

Now that everyone has forgotten about Blizzcon, I’m finally home with some time to write about it.

When I booked my vacation 6 months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to put Blizzcon in the middle, so I could participate in anything happening before or after. I didn’t expect to be flying East to New Jersey, then West to Anaheim, then East to New Orleans, then West home again. But it was worth it! And I did get to read a lot while in planes. I haven’t had time to read in so long, I was surprised I still remembered how.

Blizzcon was both a blast and a blur. I ran from panel to panel, from party to party, in hopes of seeing everyone and everything. During my past Blizzcons, I was all “COMMUNITY COMMUNITY COMMUNITY!”. This year, I barely socialized and spent most of my time enjoying the company of my guildies (of past and present).

I also stressed out a lot about the hotel. Like a lot! For the 4 months leading up to Blizzcon, my stomach was a knot and anyone who spent more than 5 minutes with me got an earful about how I was afraid the hotel would rip me off and about how I might disappoint my roommates and and and! To all of you, I am sorry! And I am pleased to say that everything worked out and no one got ripped off and my roommates were lovely and seemed happy.

It’s probably a surprise to those who know me only a little bit because my reputation as a carefree traveler precedes me, but the truth is, I stress just as much as the next person. Perhaps more. It takes me forever to make bookings, if I slip and make a mistake, it’s a tragedy, I spent a lot of time at night awake thinking about the things that could go wrong. And I don’t travel well at all. Flying makes my IQ plummet, screws up my sleep-wake cycle and makes me weepy and confused. But I do it anyway. Traveling is hard, it’s really really hard, but the payoff is worth it.

Anyway, I flew home Friday, in hopes of having a day off between then and going back to work on Sunday, but sadly, Alberta has been plagued with snowstorms and, consequently, sheer ice roads. I stayed with Fannon overnight, and spent all day Saturday driving home. Quite the harrowing experience, but I did make it back safely!

Blizzcon

There were, um, a lot of panels. I watched most of the WoW ones, which were interesting. I was happy to see how seriously they were taking the movie. I have hope that we’ll finally see a decent movie come from a video game. The new expansion is a little…well, we’ll see how it plays out. I don’t feel strongly about it because I don’t feel strong about WoW news until it hits me in the face and because it’s highly unlikely I’ll be playing with any seriousness in the next expansion.

I tried the demo. It was kinda fun. I was pleased until someone asked me what I thought of the new paladin abilities. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t even do the demo with a paladin. I just picked whatever happened to be highlighted on my screen, which ended up being a warlock. I’m such a bad blogger. (I also accidentally turned off the computer after I finished the demo, causing a lot of annoyance to the staff on site. I’m such a bad tester. I’m a bad warlock too. I spent more time running to my corpse then actually playing.)

Speaking of not playing the next expansion, my little heart broke a bit every time I’d excitedly start a sentence with “Next year/expansion/Blizzcon” only to remember that I have bigger plans in motion. I’m super excited about spending a year overseas, discovering a different world, but it’s harder than I expected to not see myself playing this game. It’s been so central in my life for the past 8 years. But it is time to move on. There’s a big world out there, and after that, I would like a family. There are also lots of lessons I’d like to take, other hobbies I’d like to experiment with and other work opportunities I’d like to explore, but that I haven’t been able to because the rare evenings I’m off work are tied up with raiding. Plus, I feel like my health is wavering. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t start moaning about how sleepy I was 2 hours into raid. And I raid super early. Until now, I wrote it off to spending up to 16 hours a day at work without so much as a pee break, but even on vacation, even after I was rested, I couldn’t do anything for more than a few hours at a time without sleep attacks. As my life becomes more and more of a struggle to stay awake, it seems like raiding probably isn’t the ideal after-work activity for me.

On the Blizzcon people side of things, despite my apprehensions, I absolutely loved my roommates (Anafielle, Kalesti and Ellumina). They were all so different and it was a pleasure to get to know each of them and hear their unique perspectives on WoW, on WoW players and on the convention. I also came across Elfie, Vidyala and Vosskah (I kept running into them everywhere…there’s a force that brings Alberta gamers together, I think!), Hestiah (who is so nice! She waited with me when I forgot to print my ticket confirmation and helped me find my friends when I got lost!), Jasyla, Rhidach and others that I don’t remember because OMG SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE IN SO LITTLE TIME!

One of the highlights of the convention was the pally meetup (I think it was planned/promoted by Theck and Anafielle, thanks guys! You rock!). I wasn’t sure if holy pallies were invited, but I showed up anyway because I do that. I ended up running into Megacode and some of his guildies and a few other holy pallies. Here’s a picture of me and Megacode (all good Blizzcon posts should contain pictures).

holypallies2

And, of course, the guildies, with whom I spent most of my time. Both the Conquest crew and the Cadenza crew were fantastic. To the point where I wonder what I must have done in past lives to deserve having such awesome people in my current life. These people are what make Blizzcon so much fun. I don’t have to worry if I say stupid stuff (worse case scenario, they’ll get a good laugh at my expense), I don’t have to worry about being awkward or too nerdy, and well, I just don’t have to worry. It’s a welcome break from the pressures of the non-WoW people world. And the jokes are funny, and the beer flows, and the hours get so so so short. Oh, and this year especially, the food was good. With Conquest, the official guild meetup was held at a fun brewery, and Cadenza’s meetup was at a japanese barbeque. Both times I ate until I was about to burst! The choice of restaurant for each guild was pretty appropriate because the two different styles really reflected each guild’s very different (but equally delicious) cultures.

Pre/Post Blizzcon

I find it funny that people seem surprised that things went really well between the boy and I. I don’t know if it’s the internet thing, or the distance things, or my fierce independence, but every time I say “It was awesome!”, I get a reaction of “Really?”. You’d think they’d know me by now. I never do things the way I’m supposed to, and that includes dating.

Anyway, I got to meet his parents (he gets to meet mine over Christmas). They’re quite traditional and from a different culture, and even though I was preemptively briefed on proper protocol and stuff, I still panicked a little during the initial gift exchange. (“OMG WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I SAY, I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME!!!”) They seemed ok with me, though, and they were very nice, despite the fact that I was absolutely terrified. (Perhaps, even, it may have been the first time in my life where my ridiculous and disproportionate shyness came in handy.)

We went to New York city for two days and I got to see my first musical on Broadway! (I have seen Rent in the past, with the Broadway cast, but it was in Toronto so it doesn’t count.) Rock of Ages was most excellent, and OMG THEIR VOICES! Even though I went in expecting the best of the best singers in the genre, I was still blown away by how beautiful and breathtaking their voices are. I have so much trouble believing that this music was coming out of real human beings.

Our hotel in New York, The Paramount on Times Square, was pretty cool too. I’d been warned that hotel rooms are tiny in New York, and yeah, it was pretty small. The little bed barely fit in the room and I barely fit in the bathtub. But the location was awesome (RIGHT ON TIMES SQUARE!), the smart use to storage space gave me ideas (I have picture of how the towels were stored behind the bathroom mirror. Brilliant! I want that in my house.) and the design fit the Broadway ambiance. Got a good deal on it too. Barely 100$ for a 4 star hotel on Times Square? YES PLEASE! (Just to give you an idea, even the 2 star hotels at worse locations we looked at were above 300$/night.)

And we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. I feel like all I did that trip was eat and sleep! We ate ramen (and I got an authentic New York experience of waiting an hour to get a table), Japanese buffet, Philly cheese steaks (we went all the way to Philly to get cheese steaks!), Italian pasta, Korean barbeque (where I met my guild/raid leader for the first time! He’s much less scary in person than online.), some Chinese homecooking (after all that restaurant food, it SO nice to eat some yummy homemade food!), Dim Sum and a few meals of Pho. I’m probably even forgetting something. After that leg of the trip, I think it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t sick and still didn’t feel like eating anymore.

After Blizzcon, we met up in New Orleans. Again, we ate a lot! I really enjoy cajun cooking so I led us from restaurant to restaurant until we were both worried about bursting. I made it to some live music at the Spotted Cat this time and we did the swamp tour, both things I regretted not doing last time I was in NOLA. We were really unlucky with the weather, though. It was so cold. Even for someone coming from Canada, it was freaking cold. As a result, we didn’t see much wildlife during the tour and I didn’t want to spend much time outside. We drank disappointingly very little alcohol because, seriously, who wants cold drinks when you’re freezing?

And that concludes the summery of my vacation

I got a lot of stuff done before I left on holidays and things have calmed down at work (most of my free time over the past three months was dedicated to writing this application for my work, hence the lack of WoW and pally-ing), so I finally have some time to myself. I actually sat on the couch this morning for, like, an hour. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I can seriously get used to this time to breath thing. So yeah, I’m hoping that this break from all the stress will help me write some more.

As for the next trip? Christmas at my parents house in Cape Breton. I can’t wait!

Still Running

October 4, 2013

When I was a student, stressed and exhausted and constantly panicking at hectic paces and deadlines, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to be out of school and have a normal life.”

Then I got my first permanent job. After tired morning upon tired morning of looking at my dark sunken eyes in the mirror, and after night upon night of breathing exercises to regain control after a hard day, it dawned on me that the problem was me. Between being awfully slow (everything takes me hours and hours more than everyone else), being a perfectionist (not an efficient combination) and an insatiable need to TAKE ON ALL THE THINGS, it would seem I’m condemned to a life time of running. Running and never catching up.

I used to envy the unemployed, but the more I get to know myself, the more I think my life would be just as hectic, no matter what elements I took out of it.

All that to say that a few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Leetsauced Podcast to celebrate their 3rd podcasting anniversary. It took me this long to get back to the blog, but these are the codes you may be looking for:

Logan’s code: ZD-2LTBF

My code: QZXE-S5A6

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s normal. It seems the hosts were critted by real life even harder than I was and I believe they haven’t been able to upload the episode yet.

But, you know, keep an eye on their site and you might win something fun! (On top of the awesome privilege of hearing my naughty noodle talk.)

As usual, I super happy to get to hang out and goof off. We’ve all gone our separate ways since our Conquest shenanigans and it’s been too long. Too too long. While I think Vik and Evan (Hi-ya) are mostly retired from WoW, Logan and I still raid together in Cadenza, but it’s not the same.

Other things that happened while I was running

As I just hinted at, I’ve been raiding with Cadenza for about 8 months now and still haven’t gotten kicked out (and actually, while I seem to get in trouble far more than most everyone else, I do feel like I’m playing somewhat decently!). The raiding is fantastic. We raid 2 nights a week, the attitude is more casual than most of the casual guilds I’ve been in (Guild forums? What are guild forums? Reading strats? You can read strats?), but we kill stuff faster than the most progressives guilds I’ve been in. Which is unbelievable given the amount of time we waste.

I’ve been raiding Kurn’s Kick-Ass GM guide (since I have no plans of becoming a GM, I’ve been treating it like “Memoirs of a GM” – it reads very well like an autobiography) and the entire time I wonder what our GM would say about it given that Cadenza, on many points (though in fairness, not every point), is pretty much the opposite of Apotheosis.

I do struggle with our Fri-Sat schedule. I wish I had found this guild as a student in Newfoundland. Raiding 10:30pm-2:30am when I don’t have to get up the next morning would have been amazing. I would have done so much better in pharmacy school if I’d raided with Cadenza at the time (though I would have missed out on some really good Conquest friendships). As community worker in Alberta, though, it’s not as obvious. Nobody wants to work the Friday night shift, so I often have to miss raid to cover it. And real life stuff is always happening on Saturday nights. No matter how much I try to avoid the Evil Real Life, it just keeps chasing me around.

But anyway, I’ve been in the guild for 8 months and I have a cute story to share.

I was reading Theck’s post about world PvP on the Timeless Isle.

He’s right. He puts it so eloquently and describes a big picture complete with relevant data and images, but essentially there are two words: Tichondrius sucks. World PvP in itself isn’t the problem. I played plenty on Nerzhul and Eredar and had excellent experiences, better even than on PvE servers. But the faction imbalance (along with the Horde PvP celebrities who attract masses of gank-happy fans) sets Tichondrius apart. I don’t even do new content because there’s no point. No matter how much PvP gear you put on or how many friends you bring with you, you’ll do nothing but sit in the graveyard as a ghost all night.

Anyways. Sensing my frustration, my fellow holy paladin guildy, who has a lot of alts on a PvE server, added me to real ID and invited me to group whenever he saw me on. Normally I don’t group outside of raids. I play by myself, at my own pace, for my own fun, thank you very much. But Tichondrius (and low-level Nerzhul since it shares Tich’s CRZ) is so awful that I couldn’t turn him down. So night after night, he’d invite me to group and we’d chat. After a few weeks of this, I finally gave him the time of day.

He came to visit me last week and I’m going to visit him the week before Blizzcon. I guess you could kinda say we’ve dating or something for the past two months or so. Not sure where it will lead, but things seem to be going well. A little good to come out of Tichondrius’ awfulness.

In other news, work’s been rough as usual. With half of my staff away, the remainder of my staff injured and inventory coming up on Saturday, I did about 8 consecutive days of being on my feet from 8:30 am to 11:30pm (most pharmacists aren’t allowed to take breaks, so a 15 hour shift means 15 hours of having sore feet and of being super hungry, sleepy and dizzy – and the shittiest part is that I’m only allowed to be paid between 9 am and 9pm, meaning the rest is basically just volunteering at work). So I’ve been pretty cranky and I swear I’m fighting off some kinda of sinus infection (likely from being exposed to the mold in our building for so many hours).

I had my first day off yesterday and I ran off to Jasper for some therapeutic thin mountain air. I didn’t bring my camera, which I regretted – the snow covered mountains with mist hanging around them were beautiful when contrasted with the yellow late-fall tree. But here’s a photo of Jasper I took earlier this year for your own mountain-therapy needs.

Cal Expo Cape Breton Pyramid Outlook 036

Oh, and yes, I fully intend to write about playing a Holy Paladin in 5.4, though by the time I get around to it, we’ll probably be in 6.0.