thessalian: (Default)
Apparently, all the luck I haven't had lately? Has returned to me. With interest.

First of all ... okay, I've been temping for a good while now, and it's not good - not in this job market. I have been trying for permanent jobs in a desperate bid for job security. I didn't really expect the effort to pay off, but I had to try because all I was getting was temp jobs. But now, finally, the job hunt paid off and I start a shiny new permanent job on the 20th! It's still medical typing, but not in a hospital - basically the organisation was set up so that hospitals could outsource heavy radiology reporting backlogs and stuff that urgently needed doing despite no radiologists being on call in the hospital. There's also room for advancement in the role, from typist to quality assurance personnel. And, best of all, the job runs from 4pm to 11pm; sure, it sounds weird that I'm thrilled by this but the fact is that despite nearly 20 years in this country, my body h as never been happy on anything but Eastern Standard Time. Sometimes it even defaults to Pacific Standard Time. In this job, I'm working at the hours that suit me best and I get to avoid rush hour. I mean, seriously, DAMN. I couldn't have asked for a better job. And boom, it just kind of fell into my lap.

And then there's the shout-out I got on a Tumblr fandom appreciation blog. I mean, there are no words for the warm fuzzies that I got when I saw this turn up on my tagged posts. It's so nice to be appreciated. Even nicer that my fanfic got a mention in and amongst all the perfumery stuff. Dorky, I know, but hey.

On the whole, things are going pretty well, I think. How's everyone else?
thessalian: (Default)
So ... okay. You know how awhile ago, I was talking about that 'Scent of a Warden' thing - my little side project of perfumes themed on Dragon Age characters? And ... also Mass Effect characters? And a couple of WoD characters now? (I expanded operations 'cos someone wanted a perfume themed on their Corax and I couldn't say no, 'cos ... y'know, Corax and now I've done someone's Son of Ether...)

ANYWAY. Point is that this is still going on. And San Diego Comic Con was just this weekend gone (I think; recently, anyway). There were Mass Effect people there. There were also people I talk to regularly on Tumblr. Some of them were wearing SOAW perfumes. One of them happened to get to talking to Courtenay Taylor, one of the voice actresses from two of the Mass Effect games - does a character named Jack of whom I'm particularly fond - who also does Ada Wong from the Resident Evil games, among others. Apparently, someone who bought the Jack scent showed said scent to Courtenay Taylor and according to Taylor's Twitter feed, she was 'huffing' it. Next thing I heard about it was a couple of days ago, when a friend of mine was one of many to mention who I was to Taylor via Twitter - just she was the only one who knew I was on Twitter to mention me in the post. Because apparently, Taylor had dropped a few Tweets asking how she could get in touch with me for a bottle of this perfume.

So to clarify ... voice actress for character I love in game series I adore likes my perfume. And wants a bottle.

The reason I am still awake and bouncing up and down now is because apparently I am not as good at setting my Twitter text alerts up so they don't wake me up at 1am. This one was from Courtenay Taylor (I Tweeted her myself when I knew she was looking for me). So now I have a Tweet from voice actress about whom I fangirl-squee, telling me that something I did is awesome and that she will be in touch about a bottle of this stuff.

I just ... can't sleep. Too much SQUEE!

*peek*

Jul. 5th, 2012 01:40 pm
thessalian: (writing)
Man, I almost forgot this was here. You can blame the Mass Effect Big Bang for my return. *sheepish* Seriously, the last little while has been not-so-fun bordering on hellish and then my internet went a little bit (okay, a lot) screwy and I didn't really have the energy for anything but semi-microblogging, Tumblr style. But my life is getting back on track so ... here I am, noting that I am here, I do live, I will try to post more often ... and I hope you don't mind that at least some of the posting will probably be the bits of fic I wrote while I was ill and had nothing else to do.

Hope I didn't miss too much excitement! How's everyone?
thessalian: (Default)
I have been excessively busy. Admittedly, largely with Tumblr. But with other stuff too! Honest!

First is the new job. I'm back to temping, but once again, the agency I'm with is more or less keeping me in the same hospital and has been for over a month now. Big difference? It's a private hospital. The pay's way better, there are fewer people yelling at me and they don't expect one person to do the work of three! (Often.) All in all, it's better, and the only thing that really sucks about it is having to go through Victoria station every morning. I thought King's Cross was bad...

Also, Mass Effect. I preordered the Mass Effect 3 collector's edition but I have been playing it veeeeeeeery slowly because I don't want to play through the ending. Not because I never want it to end, but because ... well, from the massive spoilers I've had about the end, I just don't want that. I'll play it through until the end eventually, but I'm approaching it like a chore, not a thrilling thing. Which is sad because the rest of the game is awesome. Just ... put it this way. When I was presented with a choice of playing through the last half-hour or so of Mass Effect 3 and starting a right-from-ME1 playthrough of my Engineer Shepard ... I chose the latter option. I chose the Mako, the somewhat clumsy combat mechanics and the godsawful approach to mineral surveying over playing the ending of ME3. This ... should tell you something, if you remember me bitching about the Mako the last time. But it really is only that last ten minutes! And I don't know what's happening with that because people seriously got up in arms about it and there's going to be 'clarification' of that mess, according to Bioware. Protip: if you need to sit down and explain the ending to what looks like a pretty hefty majority of your fanbase, you screwed up your ending.

Yes, I know I'm a collosal geek. Still, geekdom can be fun and even a bit profitable. About a month ago, I started a little project I originally referred to as Scent of a Warden, which involved people sending me descriptions of their favourite headcanon Wardens from Dragon Age: Origins (or Hawkes from Dragon Age 2) and I made a themed perfume based on said description. Kind of like BPAL. But on the very first run someone asked if I would consider doing NPCs and then I thought it would be nice to add Shepard blends and then the Mass Effect NPC requests came in and long story short? It's going well. People love the idea, it has been incredibly fun and I'm thinking of trying out bath gels. And maybe learning to make solid soaps, or scented candles. Hey, I found a useful way to channel my geekery and my aromatherapy hobby! I can't really complain.

So in short, all's more or less well in the wide world of Thess. I will try to be a better LJer, I promise.
thessalian: (Missing the Point)
I have been quiet. I am fully aware of this. There has not been much to say or I just haven't really wanted to get into it. That and I didn't really want to dump a whooooooooole bunch of "I played Mass Effect 2 and flailed immensely" on my LJ/DW.

...I saved that for Tumblr.

And in fact, most of the flailing I am likely to do concerning ME3 will also be found on Tumblr. I have played it. I do like it. I am a little worried that my graphics card is not handling it overly well. There are moments that made me really happy. There has been only one minor problem: spoilers.

It happened before the game even came out. This is more or less to be expected, but I had safeguards against that! Look, it was really simple; I kept it to Tumblr, wherein a little Greasemonkey app called Tumblr Saviour actually blocked any posts marked with appropriate tags. And most people were actually really good about tagging posts. Text posts, anyway. Screencap posts that gave away recurring characters who would have been a really nice surprise had they actually been a surprise? Reblogs of other people's posts? Their replies to replies they got to their posts? Not everyone checked those. Eventually I had to unfollow those people for a few days until I got the game.

And then there's the other one. I have been liveblogging ME3 (under all appropriate tags, and being very careful that everything I post on the subject - reply, reblog, whatever - has those tags) and I expressed an opinion. This individual did not agree with my opinion. She said so. I conceded the point and expressed my intent to keep an open mind but that I stuck by my opinion. This apparently was the prompt she needed to explain to me the basics of a conversation I might (emphasis might) strike up later on in game, because knowing about the conversation I won't be having until later would surely get me to drop this clearly erroneous opinion. I asked her to please drop it because knowing about the conversation and the kinds of things things that the other character would say therein counted as a spoiler, however vague. The response: "It wasn't a spoiler! I just wanted to let you know what was coming up!"

...Does that strike anyone else as the textbook definition of a spoiler?

I am debating whether to unfollow, block or just confront this person. She seems nice but she is one of those people who goes on the offensive when someone disagrees with her opinions on matters fandom-related. I am side-eyeing her with extreme prejudice right now. But that's not a decision I am going to make right now because I have been up all night. Yes, I took the day off to play ME3. I know myself too well. I wasn't tired until 20 minutes ago.

Cut for spoilers. )

I need coffee or a nap or something. Actually, I need food in the house.
thessalian: (Default)
I have some off time, huzzah! The fact that I'm awake at this hour is testament to my body clock being a dick and I will rectify that as soon as I've rectified lack of LJ posting. I've gone really dark on big-scale blogging, at least in part due to the fact that Tumblr ate my life awhile ago and hasn't given it back yet. I think a major difference is that I don't feel as bad about fan-rambling on Tumblr, because everyone else does it too, and I have been a little too depressed/aggravated/enraged about the final weeks of job to really discuss it much.

And then there was the migraine, which I am still getting over. Don't even ask.

But! I have new work starting soon, and all is well. And between job-raging and general distress over the ways of the world, I finished both Mass Effect games. It was in fits and starts, particularly the first one (I think my last post maaaaaaaaay have had some complaining about the fucking Mako and how I didn't so much ragequit as ragepause for a few days at a time) but [personal profile] steveb_uk was right about one thing; it's definitely worth playing both games through at least once. The Genesis DLC will serve anytime thereafter but if you're playing Mass Effect for the very first time, I've found out just how fun it is to play one of these things with minimal walkthroughs and no real spoilers.

Cut for inevitable spoilers )

Actually, I'm pretty sure that the entirety of the USA must have heard me whooping for glee when I finished the game, wandered my Shepard back to the captain's cabin and checked my Achievements:

Achievement: No One Left Behind

This is the best you can do, y'see. There are multiple endings: your character dies in heroic sacrifice, your character survives but squad members die, and everybody lives! Clearly everybody lives! is superior but not everyone manages it, especially on their first go. It was pretty awesome.

So ... yeah, I had fun with that. Looking forward to ME3. A LOT.

And now I am going to go back to bed. I have that privilege. I will try to be better at actual journalling, now that I've got the ME fan-squee mostly out of my system. I'll save most of the fic for Tumblr. *g*
thessalian: (Default)
There are a few reasons why I'm not finished Mass Effect yet.

1) Multiple False Starts
I am NOT GOOD at this game. I admit it freely. It is not like Dragon Age, which I am good at if I play on Casual. I am not good at this. I will never be good at this. Not even on casual. Not without cheats. It took me awhile to find said cheats but I found them and started over from point zero with the Super Armour and a Super Gun. So now that I am playing a bog-standard gunbunny with armour that'll withstand anything and a gun that more or less one-hits anything smaller than the Mako, I will at least be able to play the damn game through. But I only got that after a couple of previously created little buggers and a lot of dicking around with the character creation screen. So ... y'know, the Citadel bullshit takes awhile.

2) The Mako
I am good at the Mako. Comparatively, anyway. But that 'comparatively' is more to do with being able to get from point A to point B without ending up upside down. Still, it's a little drawn-out, all this having to speed around on that hunk of crap, which takes turns like a giant tortoise and has a bad habit of drifting one way or the other. Why anyone thought this fucker was fun is beyond me. (Oh, and its targetting system is total crap. CRAAAAAAAAAP.)

3) Surveying
At least with decrypting stuff, you can say, "Fuck it I am using Omnigel". You can't do that with minerals. So after you've finally managed to charge the Mako up whatever fucking mountain you need to climb to find a mineral (or a salarian mummy, or whatever the hell), you have to do this ... I can't even call it a 'puzzle', exactly, though that's the best term. Fifteen seconds to try to get your cursor to the centre of a circle with moving and static barriers, with the directional keys being your only method of moving the f'ing thing. It's a bitch and it generally takes me about four tries to actually get the damn mineral. Why anyone thought that was fun is equally beyond me. It's slow and pointless beyond apparently badly needed XP. Gyeh.

4) Random Assignments
Spectres answer to no one and work the mission for the good of the galaxy. So why the fuck do I have the Alliance fleet sending me to do random shit all the time? Don't even get me started on "Rear Admiral Up-Himself Shitting All Over The Normandy And Her Crew From A Great Height" and "Randomly Getting Accosted By Journalists". Though I guess it's at least realistic...

Not that I'm not having fun, but ... I get the impression that a lot of these quests are going to end up just ... not being completed because I honest-to-gods cannot be arsed with them. I hope ME2 moves a little faster.

And on that note, bed.
thessalian: (writing)
So in my last rantlicious post, I made mention of a fan-made Mass Effect trailer featuring a female Shepard.

Here it is:



TELL me that's not awesome.
thessalian: (Rant)
Yes, I am still whittering about Mass Effect. Sorry. At least there's some actual social commentary involved.

So last night I manned up and did the one thing that anyone who's played Mass Effect knows to dread: I drove the Mako. For those of you who don't play, picture this: you have a six-wheeled ATV whose suspension has to survive getting dropped from a moving spaceship, at least according to the cutscene. (Why the hell didn't they just actually land?) Anyway, end result is a monstrosity that handles like a bumper car and has pogo sticks for suspension. Guess how much fun this generally is to drive.

As it turns out, I'm not horrible at it. It takes a delicate touch on the A and D keys and I'm still not entirely sanguine about going backwards, but aside from an unfortunate 'I ran over a space monkey' incident on Hercules (I think it was Hercules, anyway), I actually did pretty well, considering how terrified I was.

The rest of it? Noooooot so hot. I'm finding that playing an Adept is complicated beyond reason and I'm not entirely sure how to use any of the special bits and bobs you get for the techies or the biotics beyond Barrier. I'm pondering starting over again, this time with Soldier (plain old gun-bunny) or Infiltrator (gun-bunny with tech). The problem is that even on Casual, the fights happen too fast in areas that are too poorly-lit and I end up flailing. A lot. This decision was made during a particularly unpleasant set of firefights with renegade biotics on a cargo vessel and geth in an abandoned mine respectively. I'm better at shooting things. I should really stick with shooting things. I could be a sniper. That'd be fun.

(Also, [livejournal.com profile] madzilla has flagged up the Super Armour and Super Gun mods. Yeeeeeees, I'll be having those...)

On a related note, ME3 spoilers are going up and while I don't entirely understand them, I am getting ideas about them from stuff I've read while looking for ways to not die horribly every time I enter combat. There is one thing that I do understand, though, and this is not so much a spoiler as a thing that should have been fairly obvious from how EA/Bioware has been dealing with the whole 'FemShep marketing' thing to date: ME3 is apparently suffering from a near-terminal case of Dudebro Syndrome.

Dudebro Syndrome: Where a piece of entertainment media conforms so strongly to the sexist tropes on offer, up to and including, "We can't be sexist! Our girls kick ass! Fine, in ludicrous poses and unrealistic outfits so that they can conform to our fantasies, but we gave you girls who fight, what more do you want?" that it honestly feels unwelcoming for women. It's basically the "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on the treehouse that is modern entertainment media.

They haven't made any secret of it, either. In the bits and pieces I've seen, the blurbs about character redesign have emphasised an increase strength and experience for the men ... and an increase in sexiness for the women. And let's face it; it didn't start with Ashley; it started with FemShep. When they made the decision to market ME1 and ME2 exclusively with a male Shepard, they didn't bother anyone about what he looked like - he looked rugged and manly because some demographic said that's what they wanted. They based him on the default male Shepard you get in game. Then, after three games (I am counting DA2 in this because of the Bioware connection), they finally decided to say, "We're going to do some trailers and marketing with a female Shepard!" Which got us all celebrating ... except instead of just giving us the default female Shepard, they made a beauty contest on Facebook to let us decide what FemShep would look like.

Devs, please.

And of course, we still haven't seen so much as a single bit of promo material featuring the female Shepard whose looks were so important that it merited such goings-on on Facebook. They keep saying it's coming 'soon'. Um ... yeah, but ... so's the f'ing game! I know it feels like forever away for those who are waiting for preorders etc, but March is not that far away, guys! The demo's coming out in a couple of weeks and we still haven't seen a single shred of promotional material featuring a female Shepard at all! There is a fan-made trailer featuring a female Shepard and it is the most brilliant thing ever; I'll link to it when I'm not at an outdated work computer.

So ... everything to do with the male characters is "100% more rugged and gritty and strong and experienced!" Everything to do with women is "100% sexier!" I'm not sure why they're going to such great lengths to alienate the female fans by ... well, there's no other way to put it but 'pandering to the Stereotypical Straight White Male Gamer', but I have a theory: The response they got to Dragon Age 2, which was more inclusive than most games of its type in terms of sexuality and gender roles, was relatively underwhelming and, since that underwhelming response couldn't possibly be because they rushed out the game in a year and thus put out an unbalanced, handwavey rush job instead of the brilliant game we know they can make, they decided that it was because they were being too inclusive. ME3 is to Bioware/EA what a Ferarri is to a middle-aged man: OVERCOMPENSATION. Or it's to make up for giving those poor souls, male or female, who aren't all that good at gaming the 'story' and 'RPG' modes on top of the 'action' modes, lest people think they've somehow unmanned themselves by not making it universally impossible to complete unless you're a frag god or you cheat like hell.

Look, y'all know I love Bioware's ability to tell a decent story. I yell at the screen when I play these things that I don't do for very much else, and that's a good thing. However, this whole thing where Mass Effect is Bioware's "hardcore gamer" game (where "hardcore gamer" seems to universally mean "the Stereotypical Straight White Male") whereas Dragon Age is their 'fluffy fantasy property' that can afford to feel inclusive to people who aren't the Stereotypical Straight White Male. It's like someone out there thinks we're still in primary school and has made the typical gender divides of "Fearless Space Marines are for boys, castles and magic are also for boys but girls can have those too, I guess". And I'm tired of it.

Also, I swear the first person who explains to me in comments about how "I get where you're coming from, but they are protecting their demographic..." is not going to be on my happy list for awhile. I've heard that argument before and I hate it too. The idea that appealing to one demographic has to involve belittling and alienating another is repugnant. If you're honestly telling me that the 'core demographic' would refuse to buy the game if the females therein weren't shaped and dressed like the wet dream of a thirteen-year-old Star Trek fan with a low-key D/s fetish, then it is my feeling that the 'core demographic' is too shallow and narrow-minded to appreciate what they're being given in the first place. They have produced great games with great stories, have Bioware, and they should be let to stand on their own merits without having to so blatantly pander to a target demographic that's only the majority because of crap like this in the first place.

Okay, rant over. Sorry. Well, actually, no I'm not, but...

The Future

Jan. 26th, 2012 09:07 am
thessalian: (Brosca)
There is not enough coffee in the wooooooorld.

Still playing Mass Effect, obviously - the problem I'm having at the moment is that playing in the evenings, combined with my general being-bad-at-this, is sort of giving me a choppy game experience. I'm pretty sure I will get into it, and want to very much, but that starts getting hard when you have to break every few minutes to do something with dinner and do all the other things you want to do while still getting to bed at a halfway decent hour. (Not that I actually got to sleep at a halfway decent hour, as for some reason I ended up tossing and turning until about half-two, but never mind; at least I tried.) Particularly when you're as bad at this as I am. It'll be different come the weekend, I'm pretty sure.

It really does amaze me how video games have changed, though. There wasn't a lot of story to get invested in when I was younger. We played games to say we beat them, and that was more or less it. Now the story's why a lot of us play. Sure, there are the people who only live to play X game on Nightmare mode, but ... well, then there's the rest of us, who appreciate a good, character-driven story and look at the mob-killing as a secondary bit of fun. Put it this way: I wouldn't use a 'KillAllHostiles' cheat but when I heard that ME3 would feature husks that were faster, nastier and harder to kill, I got kind of annoyed. Harder != better, y'know.

Technology just in general has changed so much in my lifetime. I've seen music go from vinyl albums to mp3 players. I was around to see Betamax and VHS fight it out for dominance of the video cassette market. I remember when the Commodore 64 was a big deal, and now I have more processor power in my cellphone. Hell, I just about remember a time before cellphones, even taking into account those bricks they had in the early 90s. I saw the rise of the home video games console and the home computer - when I was growing up, not a lot of people had a computer, and now you practically can't live without one. And, of course, I remember a time before the internet.

I wonder if some of the younger people I know actually understand how ... well, science-fictiony the world is, even from when I was a kid. Okay, we don't have flying cars (and I'm actually quite glad, considering the drivers I've encountered over the years), but seriously, think about it - not so long ago, you needed computers that filled rooms to store the kind of data that you can now store in something that fits in the palm of your hand. That's a little before my time, but I do remember when a laptop (hell, most desktops) couldn't store what you'd fit on a flash drive today, when portable music involved carrying around a briefcase-sized monstrosity, when researching anything involved trips to the library and the home set of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, when you'd need a payphone and a quarter to make a phone call while shopping in town. We can carry around a thousand books on little devices we can fit in handbags and briefcases now; we can store thousands of songs on devices that fit in the palms of our hands. For someone who remembers the boom box, that's pretty impressive.

Well, that wasn't entirely where I was going with that, but it'll do. Certainly food for thought.
thessalian: (writing)
Oh, it occurs to me. I never actually spun out the Cookie Saga, did I?

So ... you remember awhile back there was that whole deal where I posted my geektastic recipe for "Sten Approves" cookies? I first posted this on Tumblr, and the recipe ... it got around. The first person who actually made those cookies apart from me, as part as I'm aware, was Reg, otherwise known as skiesovergideon, who started following me because of some alternadialogue I posted to a reblog of her Reg Liveblogs Dragon Age routine. Anyway, she baked the cookies and she loved them. Lots and lots.

Enter Reg's Mom. Who had, by this point, already seen her daughter playing Dragon Age and asked at least once "Why isn't Sten your boyfriend?" (Reg's Mom has a very interesting view of the IC/OOC divide.) So Reg's Mom asks what Reg is baking and Reg tells her. Reg's Mom likes them.

This is where it starts to get complicated.

I think Reg's Mom had at some point watched Reg play Warcrack and got the general idea about crafting food items, and it all got a little mixed up because of the name I gave the cookies, and to sum it up, Reg's Mom thought (maybe still thinks, for all I know) that this particular cookie is something that your Warden can craft in-game and give to Sten to make him like you better. And that a dev gave the fans an actual recipe so that they could make these crafting items IRL. Also, apparently, that I am a dev. (At least she gets the hang of the fact that I'm female now...)

It ... doesn't stop there. For varying reasons, my cookies being the icing on the proverbial cake, Reg's Mom decides to play Dragon Age. In part to be looking for that crafting recipe. Which doesn't exist. Which did not stop her looking. From this was born Dragon Age According to Reg's Mom. Which has kind of exploded to the point where it's damn near a Tumblr-fan-community meme. Gaider has actually been made aware of this and replied to tweets about it at least once. (This involved a potential Chris Evans look-alike as a party member, as Reg's Mom suggested - with the addition of the comment, "We're sending him cookies; he'd better". Yes, apparently Reg's Mom wanted to send the Bioware crew what were responsible for Dragon Age some Sten Approves cookies as a thank-you, or something. She has since started playing the city elf origin and has rescinded this bit of nice out of protest on the subject of Vaughan.)

...All I did was suggest that this was an awesome alternative to the bog-standard choc-chip cookie recipe... I mean, I clearly can't take a whole terrible lot in the way of credit, since it's Reg and her mother who have all the funny here, but I feel like I may have catalysed this. Just a tiny bit. Iiiiittybittybit.
thessalian: (facepalm)
So somehow - and I'm not sure how I managed this, considering the timeline involved - I mastered the keyboard controls for Mass Effect. Seriously; I came home, thought that I would give the keyboard another shot rather than try to change the settings on my Xpadder profile for the 360 controller again, and I started right from the beginning of the Eden Prime mission as sort of a warm-up act. Surprisingly, I did really well, and got through it with a minimum of fuss, beyond the problem with Eden Prime blowing up with me on it. Yeah, Saren's a dick. And I eventually had to Google the location of the explosive charges because I couldn't find the last one. Now I'm in the Citadel, poking at things in a typical 'doing random shit for money' sort of way and trying to track down Garrus.

I also have a pre-game story in my head for my Earthborn street-rat-made-good war hero Shep. Because I'm like that.

I will probably at some point have a bit of a rant about how shit the wonderful world of the internet seems to be going at the moment - for instance, Google tracking its users universally across all its services and sharing data on user activity on all of them, which really is just turning the damn thing into Facebook and reducing the whole right to privacy thing given the hurdles they put on using a pseudonym on Google services. (Incidentally, I am now looking for another RSS feed reader, as that and searches are the only thing I use Google for now anyway.) But right now I am not in the mood. Partly this is because the coffee has not kicked in yet, I am fed up with the typing and on the whole, I want the weekend to be now, please.
thessalian: (Talking Too Much)
I decided yesterday that I was going to treat myself, godsdamnit. I figured I more or less deserved it. And I also needed to feel accomplished about something. Just a tiny something. So I thought to myself, why not combine both? I have both Mass Effect games and Assassin's Creed that I haven't been able to play owing to serious keyboard-play issues. I thought a controller might help. But the cheap-arsed one I bought didn't work very well so I decided to pick up a decent one when I finally headed home last night and try to play Mass Effect. I don't know how I've managed to avoid spoilers (oh, yes I do - most people talk more about how much they love the LIs than they do about the actual plot, at least in any way that makes sense to me), but I have, so I honestly, honestly am approaching this blind. I'm even bad with names so while I know that the names Kaiden and Ashley and Miranda and Garrus and Thane mean things, I don't really know when they're going to turn up or how. Well. Ashley and Kaiden, I know, but ... that's another story.

First I came home to find that my shiny new controller was not working. A short while of Googling later, and I discovered that this game, which I understood as being coded more for console gaming than PC gaming, didn't have controller support coded into its PC version. So ... no, my shiny new controller wasn't going to be any more effective than my cheap-as-shit controller, and I had wasted my money yet again. Woe.

But! All was not lost! My Google-fu is strong! I found a rather charming little bit of software called Xpadder, which circumvents all those nasty support issues! It's actually really interesting because it generates a layout of your controller and then lets you create different set-ups depending on what game you're playing. So creating the ideal Xpadder set-up for Mass Effect is ... well, let's call it a work in progress.

Moving swiftly on ... well, to embarrass myself completely, the first time I tried playing it, I was so shit at the controls that I couldn't even manage to get into the comms room, never mind to any part that might involve my Shepard seeing combat. I seriously just couldn't deal with keyboard-only at the time. I was used to clicking to where I wanted to go and having my character run there! Since then, I have at least got the hang of the "Use the W key and change direction with the mouse" style of moving from point A to point B in video games, but I will admit that the controller makes it easier, particularly since I set up one of the joysticks to change camera angle. I just need to practice with it because sometimes I try to move and I must prod something the wrong way because I end up facing behind me getting shot at.

I also need to figure out which buttons I need to have right at my fingertips (no pun intended) and which I can leave on the keyboard. Possibly J for 'Journal' is not as important as R for 'FLING A GRENADE NOW', as I discovered to my great shame when I got myself killed the first time. Though I didn't actually do too badly, for all my targeting sucks rocks. I think I just need practice. Lots and lots of practice. And a few tweaks to the Xpadder settings.

So ... yeah, I have walked into this game almost entirely blind. I have no idea what's going on or what's going to happen. The closest thing I have to a 'spoiler' is what happens at the start of ME2, but I don't know what leads to that point. There are a lot of things I am experiencing for the first time in this game. For instance, it took liveblogging my first attempt at the whole mess on Tumblr to find out that the 'glowy colonist zombie-kabobs' left around by the Geth were called 'husks'. And that they are bad. And very fast. And like to chew on people. I also didn't know that if Shepard dies, it's Game Over. I'm used to Dragon Age, where you have to have a full party wipe to get that kind of result.

In short, I am bad at this but I am learning and quite curious to see what happens next. Thus I will probably reload the game from more or less the start point and keep practicing on Geth perimeter drones until I get the hang of the controller. I am allowed to suck. Sucking is the point from which one improves. I will just have to remind myself of how f'ing badly I flailed when I first started playing games on the PC at all. Like ... oh gods, FFXI, where I actually could not access my menu options to do things like, I dunno, equip a damn weapon. It probably sounds a little bit stupid to work so hard and get so frustrated over something that's supposed to be fun, but I really do think it's going to be worth it. And getting the hang of this will be way, way more satisfying than anything my job can offer. It's a challenge!

In other news, I am still up to my eyes in fic projects, I still don't entirely feel well (stupid headache), and I am rambling about this kind of crap predominantly so that I don't have to think about being at my job. Which, yes, I am also doing. Just if I don't have something else to think about, I will get depressed again and I really don't want that.

ARGH.

Jan. 23rd, 2012 09:49 am
thessalian: (facepalm)
Another week, another new department. I swear, it's like they think that if they shift me around enough, I'm going to forget about wanting to get shot of this place.

The latest is that ... well, having moved to the new department, I had to go in and pick up some of my bits and bobs from the last department. Who in turn told me that there were some 'loose ends' to tie up. Said 'loose ends', by the way, involve printing out, photocopying, posting and filing every letter I've typed in that department. But I can't actually do it in that office, oooooooh no. No, that would be sensible. Instead, I am forced to use OtherDepartment resources to print and post all those letters, and then stay late when the office is empty to sit down and do the filing. So I don't get in anybody's way.

If I'm going to be in people's way, wouldn't it be easier for them to do it? Or at least the person for whom I have been covering for the past week and a half? Or something? Instead I'm being saddled with the work of two departments because ... I don't honestly know why. AND WOMAN FROM OTHERDEPARTMENT HAS JUST CALLED TO CHECK ON ME WTF. After an hour and a half goes by, you kind of get to thinking that maybe I'd have called them if I was having problems logging on to the system and signing things off, wouldn't you?

Also, I hate the departments where the secretaries work right next to actual clinic space. It's noisy, it reeks of disinfectant and it drives me bugnuts.

I need to get gone before I pull an Anders or something.

In other news, I am finally over the flu bug from hell, I hit level 85 on Warcrack and am now faced with a moderate case of the 'NOW whats?' - only 'moderate' because I am in the middle of three quest chains, I am determined to be able to afford my Expert Riding achievement, I have professions to level and I want to jack up my Rep with the various factions - and I need more weekend.

That is all, thank you.
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... I don't really like linkspam posts; I always figure that the point of a blog is to actually say shit. But I have to start with linkspam because honestly, I don't even know where to begin anymore.

So let's start with ACTA. This is a 'trade agreement' that has already been formally signed by European governments. It goes before the European Parliament soon - very, very soon. Apparently, being transparent about exactly what is going on and the process by which this thing is going to hit would 'severely interfere with the complex ratification process' ... by which I assume they mean that if people actually understood this, they would not want it and would ask that it not actually be ratified. But at its essence, we've heard it before - this is the one that makes ISPs and access providers legally responsible for policing the traffic of their users, and shut down those who infringe. Considering that this would punish the innocent as well as the guilty, and is a gross invasion of privacy besides, it's actually terrifying that it's being pushed through as a trade agreement despite imposing legal sanctions, and is essentially bypassing the democratic process entirely.

The words 'WHAT THE FUCK?!?' come to mind.

Also, the US shouldn't celebrate the end of SOPA and PIPA yet. Not only are these still more or less being discussed (Obama just doesn't like the language; he didn't like the language of NPAA either at first, and he hasn't vetoed it yet), there's the Protecting Children from Internet Pornography Act. This would oblige ISPs to monitor everything done on the internet by its customers and keep records of everything - internet activity, addresses, bank details, IP addresses you've been assigned, everything - for eighteen months. Who gets to look at this information? The government, on request. Note the word 'warrant' is not mentioned at any point. This ... there are no words for this.

Then there's Chris Dodd of the MPAA, calling out those politicians that pretty much screams at those politicians to whom he's thrown financial support to 'stay bought'. Now, campaign donations are one thing, but out and out saying that the politicians can expect an end to those donations if they don't do exactly what he says strikes me as Dodd shooting himself in the foot. He says this like he expects no legal repercussions from a near-direct admission that his 'campaign donations' are just plain bribes. And the worst part? He probably isn't going to see any legal repercussions.

And coming back to the UK, where undercover police infiltrate and sabotage protest groups, to the point where they establish long-term relationships with activists, have children with said activists under their aliases and then vanish, to only receive word of their children by police reports. And ... this is okay, somehow? The kids thing is one thing - despicable and wrong, but one thing. But to openly admit that undercover police are infiltrating legitimate protest groups to sabotage them? When our last protest march looked like something out of V for Vendetta?

Voting has failed. Political protest is being crippled at every opportunity. The people who are running the show are now openly admitting to the measures they'll take to get what they want, and 'what they want' is clearly not synonymous with 'the will of the people who elected them'. What exactly do we have to do to take the power back?

A friend of mine on Tumblr was saying that she was sick to the back teeth of reading about SOPA and PIPA, about how it wouldn't be the end of the world even if these things did pass. But with the shit we're already finding out about - the stuff that gets outed in the news and goes entirely unpunished - are we really expected to believe in 'if you've nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear'? So-called democratic governments, much like honey badger, do not give a shit about the people who elected them. They have no shits to give. And now we're pretty clear on the fact that whoever we elect is bought, and expected to stay bought ... not to mention that every avenue of protest against this state of affairs is going to be spied on, sabotaged and shut down at any opportunity, and by any means necessary. Now, I know that it's always been that way, but it's getting more corrupt and more obvious and this is not what it's supposed to be like! Do we really want to live like this?

What is it going to take to make government 'by the people and for the people' again?

Perfection

Jan. 13th, 2012 01:20 pm
thessalian: (Yay)
I've always dreamed of seeing a unicorn. Or a winged horse, or a griffin, or some wondrous mythical creature from the dreams of mankind.

And today, my dream came true. For I have seen the sort of thing that cryptozoologists will never acknowledge but that I know is the rarest thing on this earth.

There is this registrar.

When she dictates, she speaks clearly and concisely, with wonderful grammar. She also speaks at good volume and reasonable speed, never putting her mouth too close to the microphone. She dictates letters in a quiet room so there's no ambient sound distraction. She never forgets to say where she wants her paragraph breaks.

HER HANDWRITING IS LEGIBLE.

I just want to ... I dunno, bronze her or something. I want her to stay this perfect forever! When she becomes a consultant, she's going to make some secretary very happy. I have almost never had such an easy time with typing dictation! FINALLY, this job has thrown me something good!

(I'm still running like my feet are on fire and my legs are catching, but damnit, at least this two-day stint in Other Random Department isn't all horror show.)

Also, I should mention that I am so very very nearly to level 85 with my Belf Pally. Partially due to the fact that I went to do a bit more questing in Hyjal yesterday. Well. Actually, it was supposed to be mining in Hyjal yesterday because I needed a chunk of jasper for a jewelcrafting daily, but I wanted to clear my quest log a bit anyway, so ... anyway, long story short, I ended up...

...okay, this game is ridiculous...

I ended up climbing trees. Not to snipe people from a height, or anything cool like that. No, I had to scoop up baby bears, climb to the very top of the tree, and hurl the bears at a trampoline some centaur-looking thing had set up in a nearby clearing. Because they were hiding from the forest being on fire. Seriously, it went:

*climb climb climb*
*grab bear; bear goes 'GRONK!'*
*climb to top of tree*
*hurl bear; bear goes 'GROOOOoooonk...' -boing-*
*lather, rinse repeat*

Well ... it was marginally less annoying than the bunnies. Look, I was in burning forest, killing shit, and then went back to complete the quests and a new quest popped up. "SAVE THE BUNNIES!", it went.

I have done a lot of daring things in this game. I have triumphed over dragons and demons and pirate kings and so, so very many undead. And now I'm chasing bunnies around a burning forest. Bunnies who haven't got the good sense to run away from the flames.

BEHOLD, MISSANDEI, CHAMPION OF AZEROTH AND ALL BUNNIES, EVERYWHERE! (Also Grandmaster Bear-Hurler.)

This game is warped.
thessalian: (Rant)
[livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna recently posted a blog-link from Charles Stoss (which I can't link to right now because the computer I'm using at work is shit, but I'll fix that when I get home) about what the future's going to look like in 20 years, and in 80 years. Given these are speculative fiction writers doing the telling, a lot of it is probably pretty trustworthy, and it's enough to give people a pretty serious case of the depressions as we realise that a lot of jobs are going to be replaced by technology.

But nowhere near as many as this article seems to think.

Consider my profession - I am a secretary. People have been trying to automate this job until I am obsolete for decades! Computers found their way into the office predominantly because a computer meant that boss-types could feasibly handle things on their own - their own correspondence via email, for a start - and thus negate the need for a secretary. I have never met a doctor who answers their own email. I know several who won't even look at it until it's been printed out and handed to them. Word processing programme? They'll use it at home all the time but in the office, it's gathering dust. They don't have the time. They're too busy running around seeing patients. And gods forbid they ever pick up the phone.

Now, maybe one day a computer will be able to do all those things, but it's already fallen at the first hurdle - namely, voice transcription software. It works wonderfully from text to voice, but the other way around? It really doesn't do very well with accents. The software advertising blurb says that it's supposed to get to grips with a specific user's accent and specific terminology, but it doesn't generally speaking work very well. It actually takes longer to dictate something and then have a secretary go back and fix all the mistakes the software made than it does to just have a human being type it in the first place. And let's not talk about the fact that most of the doctors of my acquaintance need their entire sentence structure rearranged to make their letters make the remotest bit of sense - and I'm not just talking about the non-native English speakers here.

Look, there's a lot of stuff that computers can do that humans can't, but most of that is to do with speed rather than ability. Give us world enough and time, and we can calculate large numbers - we know the principles, at least. Thus we programme a computer to use those principles, and it can do it faster than we can. The problem with speech recognition is that it doesn't really have principles in that sense. We don't pronounce words or phrases the exact same way every time. Most humans have a hard time deciphering someone who's mumbling into a microphone, and computers can only work with what we give them. If what humans give them is unworkable ... well. Computers don't work all that well at guessing through context. Xref: Word for Windows Spelling and Grammar Checker.

As for the rest ... well, the first time something with an automated driver crashed, the lawsuits would be epic. Epic enough to make no other company want to take the risk ever again. Computers fail. They get infected with viruses. They short-circuit. They inexplicably die. They do weird shit that no one thought was possible! And people are still making them, and since they'll be commercial commodities, the manufacturers will cheap out. Yes, even on life-saving equipment. Humans may be fallible, but so are computers, and when a human fucks up, a company can place the blame on that person. If a manufacturer's product screws up, the manufacturer takes the blame. No one wants that in this age of cronyism. Humans make better scapegoats.

My real depression comes when you combine the climate issues (because let's face it; that ship has sailed and all we can do is try like hell not to make it any worse, which of course we're not doing) with the iron fist rule governments in supposedly democratic countries are trying to impose while talking about "democracy for all!" I figure that by 2032, I'm going to be living in an underground bunker somewhere, organising the supplies for the resistance and telling stories to the kids so they have some distraction from the fear. I will come bearing printouts of fan fiction and an iPod that I can charge once a week and play for a couple of hours a day, through my iPod dock, for morale purposes. 'Cos gods know I'm not a combatant.

No. Seriously.
thessalian: (facepalm)
That's it. Stick a fork in me; I'm done. MARINES, WE ARE LEAVING.

So today I was working away at my makeshift desk, minding my own business, when office manager walks up to me with the hangdog expression of an individual who is going to ask for something really, reeeeeeeeeeally inconvenient. And then tells me that there is a 'crisis' in another department and they need me there for the rest of the day. Maybe tomorrow too, but probably not next week. When they're still not sure they'll be able to find me a desk.

I am sending my CV to agencies now. Even if all they can find me are temp jobs, IT IS BETTER THAN HERE. I can't take this anymore.

So today, or at least this afternoon, I am at a computer that is running an outdated version of IE (so not even gimped Tumblr, woe) and getting condescended to by people who don't understand that I have been doing this shit for at least as long as they have and they don't have to talk to me like a newbie. I hate it here.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm using a transcription machine from the early 90s?

*headdesk* I want ooooooout.

*peek*

Jan. 6th, 2012 09:37 am
thessalian: (Talking Too Much)
Dear Friendslist:

I know that I have been intensely reclusive the last week or so. This is due to reasons, and also non-reasons. Sort of a combination of the job, the weather, a few personal issues and, if that weren't bad enough, RID. (Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the lexicon of my pachinko-machine brain, stands for Random Inexplicable Depression ... although technically I guess it isn't so much Inexplicable as it is "fuck, clinical depression really does not ever go away at all, ever, does it; it just goes into remission for awhile".) This has resulted in my, among other things, hiding behind Invisible on AIM and not really participating much in anything but the occasional rant and random stuff on Tumblr.

Really, I have not been what I'd consider good company for anyone, beyond the occasional aforementioned 'random stuff' - read: fannish comedy stylings - on Tumblr. However, I don't imagine that my mood is going to improve by not communicating with anybody, and I miss you guys on AIM. So I'll be around more, honest. Sorry for the radio silence.

...Although I might need to barge my way through Dragon Age: Legacy first to vent some of the rage of today because fuck's sake, I just had some clinic clerk wander up to me and insist that I must have a set of notes for a clinic I've never laid eyes on. When I remind her that two other typists work up here and might have the clinic notes, she says, "Well, they're not here today". So I advise her to look on their desks to see if those notes are there and while she manages the one who sits next to me well enough, she can't find the other lady's. So I show her ... and the other lady is sitting at her desk. When I make mention of this, clinic clerk goes, "Oh, I didn't check". She may say 'I came straight to bother you' jokingly and everything, but the fact is that she marched up to me, insisted that neither of my colleagues up here were in without checking and more or less made me personally responsible for sorting out her problem, which she could have managed just fine if she'd used a bit of initiative.

...Yeah, I'm going to have to pick up my Rogue playthrough because there is a need to stab things until they explode.

I've been back on Warcrack a bit lately, too - needed something relatively mindless to do while trying to claw my way out of my current funk. Level 83 now - a level and a half to go until I hit level cap - and ... well, because I couldn't take the Nespirah quests anymore, was more or less done with Hyjal and needed a break from Deepholm, I went to Uldum. Now I am trying to struggle my way out of a city full of cat-people in the middle of a desert and really, I wish I'd waited awhile. I'm hoping you can go back to Uldum and pick up the quests again whenever you want the way you can with some other 'we're trapped' circumstances because I'd like to get back to Dalaran to do my jewelcrafting dailies, thanks.

...Well, at least I'm not totally obsessive about it. I generally get through an hour or so before I get bored/tired during the week, a few hours on weekends.

I need a new job or a lottery win. But I suppose I'll settle for a weekend. It'll have to do.
thessalian: (Rant)
I am not in a great mood. There are multiple reasons for this. One of the main ones, however, is EA, who have once again gone out of their way to prove that they are more than willing to annoy the living shit out of their customers.

So this weekend, I thought that Sims 3 might be feeling a little neglected, so I switched it on as something to do in between bouts of WRITE ALL THE THINGS (which didn't happen as much as I'd have liked due to lingering bad mood). There was a patch. I installed the patch, then played. It loaded slow, as always, but eventually I got to the Create-a-Sim screen and set to work. All was going fine - I'd fixed the face so that it didn't look quite so ... um ... malformed - and then I went to pick a hairstyle.

At the very top, where you couldn't miss it, were the Sims Store's top three buys of the week or month or whatever. Outlined in gold so that they'd catch the eye. Buttons were gold too, and basically screaming, "CLICK HERE TO SPEND MONEY! LOOK! WE MADE IT EASIER FOR YOU TO BUY OUR STUFF AND THIS ANNOYING GOLD EYE-CATCHING STUFF-YOU-DON'T-HAVE IS JUST GOING TO SIT HERE AND PISS YOU OFF EVERY TIME YOU SWITCH ON THE GAME UNLESS YOU BUY IT!"

I ... was not impressed.

It wasn't just the hair, either. Every. Single. Category of clothing, with the exception of accessories, had three big gold "BUY ME!" button-items at the top of the screen. I was more or less livid. I have spent enough money on this game - on the base game and the expansions and the stuff packs and the occasional splurge on Sims points - that I expect to be allowed to play the damn game in peace without being asked to spend money while I'm playing.

But I got through it with a relative minimum of teeth-grinding and made my Sim and her pet cats. Then I moved them into a house and proceeded to redecorate.

...This "SPEND REAL MONEY!" shit? It's in the Buy Mode too. So now you can spend real money on the fake furniture while you're playing, too. And are, in fact, strongly encouraged (nay, even badgered) to do so while just trying to play the game you've already spent a fair wodge of real cash to enjoy in the first place. I didn't even have the heart to see if that held true for wallpapers and things. I just ragequit.

I also notice that the patch notes don't say a damn thing about them saddling us with this shit. I AM DISPLEASED. At least be up-front about your utterly arrogant intrusive cash-grab, you toffee-nosed, shit-eating babbons' backsides!

The worst part about all this is that I cannot actually get away with not ever supporting EA ever again. Look, they own Bioware. I want to support Bioware. Bioware has provided me with endless entertainment and gave me a fandom again, if indirectly. But if I support Bioware, I am supporting EA too. This displeases me. I don't want EA to have my money. I want Bioware to have my money. But I can't give my money to Bioware without benefitting EA and it sucks.

It's like EA cannot bear anyone else having any money ever in the entire world; they must have ALL THE MONEY ... at the expense of the people giving them ALL THE MONEY. I mean, the game's not there to be played by the people who actually bought it already - oh no. The game is there to make money. So why not dig into the source code and, under the guise of making the game less buggy, add in a little bonus intrusive marketing bullshit? Because you know people are going to click those buttons by accident. Maybe they can't spend money unwittingly, but it'll annoy them enough that they might just buy the crappy custom content to make it go away ... which it will until the next patch, if not sooner.

I love Sims, but the one thing I play it for - the creation of custom characters and living spaces - has become more irritating than I like. So I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I wish they'd just knock it the hell off already.

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