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!
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: (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.

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thessalian

July 2012

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