September 30, 2010

I now know what I'm wasting my money on next.

I have clearly not given BioWare enough money, so they gave me a reason to give them more.

I haven't bought everything yet, but goddammit I obviously need to have it all, especially if $114 of stuff is going to be $50!

I better hope this is on steam.

Okay, enough free advertising and fan-gasming for the day.

September 29, 2010

Story Inspired by Random Comic Panel

I am a big fan of Something Positive, a web comic by R.K. Milholland.  The comic is hilarous, and the couple of times I've met him in person (and played a Bunnies and Burrows game he ran) he's a cool guy with a dark sense of humor.  I follow him on twitter, and occasionally he'll put up a random picture, including this one:

Artwork by (duh) R.K. Milholland

He puts up the picture with the caption "I doubt sincerely anything will be done with this panel."  And me, being the writer that I am, take that up as a challenge.

So below is the short piece I thought up in my head just from the picture above.  Enjoy.

Oh, and for the story below:
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

At age 26 DeWitt was still a duckling.  He wasn't ugly.  He wasn't dumb.  He had "bloomed", whatever that term meant.  He was actually, to be honest, a success story.
He had two great parents.  His father had succeeded in being a prominent figure of Public Health policy, raising the bar on extra-planetary imports.  His mother was a a fantastic salesperson who ran a branch of a successful real estate company.  He was the oldest of three sons, all of which went to the best private schools that money could buy.  He'd had decent enough grades, but his soccer career is what made him shine before he went off to college.  He ended up falling in love with economics, and excelled due to his dedication to his studies.  He had finally finished his Masters, getting into an elite program despite all the obstacles.  In between the studies he had settled down with a beautiful older woman, a biologist who was up and coming in academic circles.  He was a success in every way a man could be.
But his papers did not add up.  The Director of Human Resources at the Department of Labor had let DeWitt sit down in his office during the interview, but the pile of reports on the desk was unsettling.  DeWitt had quickly recognized some of them as his own.  He took a seat in the wood chair, something that stood out in a building mostly composed of metal and concrete.  The hum of the florescents put him on edge.  Across from him, the Director picked up a thin piece of official cello-paper, with the seal of the colony.  It was DeWitt's birth certificate.
"Mr. DeWitt, I scheduled this interview before I had taken a close work at all of the paperwork the state has allowed me access to, understand?  And this piece of paper has me concerned.  I don't see why you even applied here."
"Excuse me, Sir?"
"We have standards that I have to uphold, understand?  I have to make sure you can keep up with what we do here, and to be frank, Mr. DeWitt, you can't.  And I just hate it when people waste my time, understand?"
"Sir, I don't what you're refer--"
The Director laid the birth certificate in front of him.  "Read the CP line."
DeWitt picked it up and read the Conception Procedure line.  "Basic."
"Sir, if you're problem is that I was conceived naturally--"
"Precisely the issue.  I'm glad you see it.  If you had been genetically calibrated before you had latched yourself into your mother's womb, this wouldn't be a problem, understand?"
"Sir, with all due respect can we keep my mother's organs out of this discussion?"
"Don't bother with the respect.  You can see I can't hire you."
DeWitt cleared his throat.  "Actually I can't."
"It should be crystal clear!  If you have been modified at conception, when most Titanian's are, you'd be fine.  They would've automatically made sure that your neural networks, or whatever they call them, would be fast enough to process at a regular Titanian speed.  But you're basic conception, so I can't admit you here with you slowing down the teams calculations."
"I'm applying for a job that involves policy making, Sir."
"You still have to calculate formulas to predict the labor situation, understand?"
DeWitt picked up one of the old essays.  "You obviously printed out all my work, you can see I can calculate a simulation like the back of my hand, even make new ones modified to unique situations!"
"Mr. DeWitt, none of your work is exemplary.  None of it.  I can assure you half the people who applied for this job have done work at least at your level, if not better."
"So you're telling me you didn't even read it then.  I've been published in industry journals!"
"Mr. DeWitt, I am sorry you have wasted my time here, but there's nothing I can do for you, understand?"

DeWitt walked from the interview in the dark.  The colony was always dark outside, but the indoor lights had been calibrated to imitate the solar cycle back at Earth.  He followed the neon street signs to his wife's office.  Her building was a grey monolith, next to many other grey monoliths.  There was barely any indication that the building housed test subjects, or viles of microorganisms.  It did hint that there was something sterile inside.
DeWitt was let in by the receptionist to his wife's office.  He looked at the degrees on her wall, the pictures of her graduation, of their wedding and their families.  It was a good life she had.  So was his, in spite of his origins.
She walked in, her goggles and gloves still on.  "I came in as soon as I could.  I want to know how it went."
He responded as softly as he could, but he he couldn't hide all his anger.  "No you don't."
She sank right next to him, on the arm of his chair.  "Oh no, my starlight."  She never liked the words honey, or babe, or darling, so she used starlight.  It was still corny.
"He immediately went to the CP line on my birth certificate.  Explained it like I thought he would.  Kept on saying 'Understand?', as if I spoke some other language."
"You should've responded 'Que?' or something like that."
"Doesn't matter.  If the government won't hire me, I doubt any company will. "
"Don't say that, starlight."  She embraced him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "It's only been a couple months.  Not time to give up yet."
"You and I both know that in this boom phase I should have a job.  I mean, I studied this stuff.  I know I should have a job now.  Titania is just not going to let me, with this genetic caste system."
"It's not like that."
"It is that!"
She let go of him, and slowly took her seat at the desk.  DeWitt knew he shouldn't have said that.  She was always guilty that she had been calibrated and he hadn't.
"I'm sorry.  Look, earlier today, I figured I wouldn't get the job.  I'll... start looking somewhere else."
She smiled.  "That's the spirit.  I'm sure there are plenty of other jobs for someone with your skills.  Or you could just got straight to a Ph.D."
"I can't, remember?  CP basic."
"Oh.  Well, there has to be another job, even if it's not something you studied the last eight years."
DeWitt started to laugh.  "So you're telling me I wasted eight years?"
She frowned.  "You know I'm trying to encourage you."
"Hey, I was thinking.  I'm wondering if... well, Titania is the only planet that has the genetic qualifications.  If we thought about moving to somewhere else, another colony is bound to hire me.  Maybe Walter's Gate or Man's Progress."
Her face was sad.  "Starlight, my research is only happening here.  This is the only place that's looking at microbiotics at this level, not to add with the right tools.  I can't be anywhere else."
"So what, I'm stuck here with a Masters unemployed the rest of my life?"
"You're not going to be unemployed the rest of your life."
"I'm not taking a job selling fast food to people out the drive thru, so I'm afraid I am."
"You don't have to get like this.  No reason to be this angry."
"Of course you're the reasonable one, part of your breeding, right?"
She stood up.  "If you came her to upset me, you have to leave.  I still have work to do today and I can't--"
"You get to work and I get to stay home after all I went through?"
She rushed out the office.  "I'll see you at home.  You'll have cooled by then I hope."  She slammed the door.
DeWitt just stayed there, looking at all the pictures.  He stared at the happy couple they were on their wedding day.
"Had I known then I was to be your duckling, that I was to follow you single file wherever you went, I would've reconsidered my options, love."

September 28, 2010

Recap, Session 5: Please Visit My Adversary

Sorry it's taken so long!  Yesterday was my birthday (I'm officially 24 year old--woot!) and Sunday was crazy since I had to bake some mac and cheese.  So I finally can post this recap.

You should know the drill by now.  Anything pertaining to the original world I created, including fictional characters and countries:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

The Cornwellian Kingdom was experiencing a first, the coronation of a Queen to the throne, when the ceremonial procession was attacked by a large, long armed undead that none of the PCs had seen before.  It took them a long time to finally keep it dead.  The Queen and her procesion party were all rushed into the castle quickly.  The PCs did some investigation, including Bram making sure the body of the creature was researched by the local magic university.  Dreamatar had his sister work on a Legend Lore spell.  Atreyu and Dreamatar made sure the Queen knew they were still in her service.  The PCs stayed in the castle for a while to make sure the nobles were fine, some making conversation here and there, including Roto with the Queen's sister Faoiltiarna.  The people of the capital seemed disturbed, but did not revolt in any way violent.  The Queen gave a speech to calm them down.

The next day proved to be quiet for the PCs.  They checked up on their own affairs, and some viewed the execution of the minotaur that was left from the crypt raid.  There was some talk about where to proceed next with the crypt investigation, but many were happy to have a day of rest to themselves for once.

Next morning made the vacation short.  Queen Elish told the party that the Vidrigez Kingdom have found out about the services they were providing to the Cornwellian Kingdom, and wished them to help with something at Vidrigez.  The PCs agreed, although some were hesitant.  When they went over Atreyu made sure all the PCs knew how to act and speak in front of King Aust, a man with ram's horns and coal black eyes.  Although leaving in the morning, due to the time difference King Aust greeted the PCs in the evening, and told them in confidence about how his youngest brother, Aeriche, went missing.  A prince known to pretend to be the common folk during the evening, he hadn't been seen during his excursion a couple night ago, and King Aust decided to search for him.  The PCs were asked to investigate and find him, but were invited to a dinner celebrating the middle of the winter season the next night.  All the PCs except Bram had dinner with the King and his family their first night in.

The next day the PCs investigated around town.  Atreyu visited his family to see if they had any news.  Bram checked around the castle, Roto checked around town in general, and Escrow had some success checking out the taverns.  He heard that a man with a bushy beard and deep set eyes was last seen with a man that looked like Aeriche, a human.  Considering the capital of Vidrigez is 95% half-elf, this man stuck out like a sore thumb.  The witness was questioned several times over, and the PCs tried to figure out what the next step was.

That evening the grand festivities to celebrate the middle of winter happened.  Arteyu spent some more time with his family, and was luckily not embarrassed by his party members.  Dreamatar learned how to do some of the local dances, and Bram talked with some of the significant individuals of the party.

The PCs decided that next morning, they would investigate the town that is straight north of the capital.


There was a lot of RPing going on that I don't think I remembered, or at least remembered all of it.  Session went late since we didn't have a time constraint, and it was pretty fun with some good hang out breaks in there.  If you guys int he campaign have anything you'd like to add in the comments, totally feel free!

September 23, 2010

When I'm Not Resentful Playing a Girl: By A Girl Gamer

A while ago this article caught my eye.  It focuses on the popularity of Femshep, the female version of Shepard in the Mass Effect series, despite the fact that she's barely part of the advertising campaign if at all. A good amount of people appreciate Femshep, and a lot of people who are diehard fans make sure to play through the game as both genders.

Edit: New Shepard, again who ever made
this one, your Shep is pretty so thank you!
What makes playing Femshep so popular despite no help from marketing?  In fact, what makes a lot of female characters popular?  Especially in situations where you don't have boobs busting out all over to sell your product (like Femshep or Samus).

You know what I think?  I think some of the best characters in video game storytelling are characters where the gender is, in all honesty, a side note.  The character is not overtly masculine or feminine, but instead a character with a deep background that has little to do with gender if anything at all.  Samus is a great example, since in the first game she appeared, you didn't realize she was a woman until you beat the game.  It was a huge surprise to the gaming world back then.  And after that, all of those fans kept playing regardless.  

Another character that has been popular is Master Chief.  I will admit that Halo is not a series I play a lot, but Master Chief is definitely a popular character for the Halo series, and is another example of how gender as a side note works.  We know he's a guy, but it rarely ever comes up in game.  His talks very little and is merely there to get the job done.  He's a no-nonsense guy, and you can relate to him because just like you, he's there to complete the mission.  He's not some beefcake hero.  

Characters I find hard to relate to, and instead are put on pillars of adoration or sexualization, are characters who's gender and sex roles are brought to the forefront.  Gender referring to social constructs, sex referring to scientific characterization.  Gender is the idea that women wear dresses.  Sex is the idea that women have a uterus.  Makes sense?  Good!
With most video game characters, the gender ideas tend to be the ones that distance them from us.  For example, the main guys for Gears of War are beefy men, with muscles that I'm not sure are humanly possible, carrying huge guns, dressed like space lumberjacks, and their only accessories are headbands and bullets.  Not even soldiers out on the field look ANYTHING like this.  This Rambo ideal is something that is impressed upon men from when they're young, the idea that a real hero is this huge beefy guy that can pull a truck and chews cigars.  But do you actually know a man in your life who fits this example to a T?  99 out of 100 people don't.  Instead, it's an ideal that we chase from when guys are young playing with actions figures.  You're not relating to the Gears of War guy at all when you first look at him.  You're hoping to become him.

Gender for women in video games tends to go the route of sexual objectification.  Let's go back to Heavenly Sword, with Nariko.  Sure, there is something empowering about a female main character with a large sword killing tons of bad guys all on her own.  But she still poses in half of the art and marketing as if she's a pin-up girl.  It can get even worse when it's not even a main character.  Hell, it gets worse even when it is a main character.  Bayoneta, although admittedly a game I would love to try out, has a main character who's sexualization is the entire point of the character, from the way she presents herself in cut scenes to the way she fights with magic and guns in her high-heel shoes.  I'm not going to say there's something wrong with this in the industry.  With the way human minds work, there will always be a market for main characters that are sexy.  But I have to say that these are not characters you can look at and go "I can totally relate to them."  These are characters that embody the ideals society will never meet.  The same ideals that have made it okay photoshopping models who are already paid to look hot, look even hotter.

However, even though these games sell, they never gain the kind of popularity that certain characters have gained over time.  Mario, Samus, Master Chief, Link, Sonic... these are characters that are not initially defined by their gender roles but something else entirely.  Something that makes them relatable enough to play over and over again without you even caring about how they look.  I know, it makes no sense that you should relate to an Italian plumber stereotype that grows bigger with mushrooms and stomps on turtles.  However, could it help that his awkward shortness and slight tummy make it easier for you, as a player, to look at him and go "That's the kind of hero I can be."?  Or to look at characters in full armor like Samus and Master Chief, who have made it their profession to do what they do in the video games, and acquire enough gear to make it believable?  They're not half naked statuesque demi-gods that can take continuous bullets and stab wounds and still look good.  They're just people.

And I think that's why FemShep is popular despite the lack of marketing attention.  She's just a woman with a past and a job to do.  She's LITERALLY saving the entire universe, do you think she even has time to care about her looks?  She barely has time to think about romance.  Although the same is true about MaleShep, it's noted more in FemShep because rarely is a female depicted as just a person with a job to do.  No boobs popping out to remind you she's a girl, no constant reminding about how beautiful she is compared to everyone else, and no saying "Hey, you're just as good as the men around here" to constantly remind us she is an above-average woman.  Gender is not completely devoid of all interaction, but it is devoid of the basis of Shepard's character.  

And that's true for a lot of the other female characters I like to play as well.  I remember when I first picked up Left 4 Dead, I told the Boyfriend that I never wanted to play Zoey because she's  girl.  But to be honest, out of the four characters she was the one I related to the most, and not just because she was a girl.  She is about my age, college girl who is a huge nerd, and that nerdom is helping her survive.  And none of the gameplay, and barely any of the script, revolves around the fact that she's a girl.  She's just doing her best to survive and sticking with the other 3 people who seems to still be alive in this mess of a zombie apocalypse.  Rochelle in L4D2 is in the same position, and once again her gender is no real concern.  Other than a quip about a frying pan and hitting on Francis during The Passing campaign, her gender doesn't matter.  I think, as the kind of girl who plays video games even if there isn't a female character (like a lot of girl gamers out there), this is the kind of female character I'm willing to play.  

Last thing, a lot of fans got as angry as Craig and Destin from Screw Attack did when they finally played Metroid: Other M.  Why?  If you listen to their audio review on SideScrollers, it's essentially because gender got in the way.  Samus is made to be the stereotypical meek female personality for a good amount of the scenes.  They took a character that was badass, and made her a little girl in some parts of the story.  This is not the Samus fans grew up with.  Hell, I never played the games and this is not the Samus I grew up with.  If this is something that the mostly male fan base is noticing, someone in writing/casting/directing of that story screwed up.

We have to look at gender in videogames and realize that it's not necessary to shaping a main character that appeals to gamers.  I think the video game industry would be better served if they realized that.

September 20, 2010

Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda caught with foot in mouth

Kudo Tsunoda was rightly defending the new Kinect.  It's what you have to do when you work for a company--stand by the product.  But he seems to go a little to far, saying that Halo on the Xbox killed FPS gaming on the PC.  The article quotes hims saying "hardly anyone plays first person shooters on the PC anymore."


I am sure most of you fellow gamers would agree that this sounds outrageous.  Well, in response someone looked up some numbers, and before even America was at full force on Steam there were at least 266,505 people playing FPS' online via the Steam community.  This doesn't even include people playing on LAN networks or other dedicated servers.

Alright Kudo, could you please do some research before someone debunks your bogus claim in less than 24 hours.  I don't think any of the consoles are dying out soon, including the PC.  So those of you in the video game business, don't offend your competition until you know you have them beat.

September 19, 2010

Talk Like A Pirate Day Story Time!


T' bring some humor to me latest voyage with me favorite lass, Proptart, I'll be celebratin' talk like a pirate day while tellin' ye the tale of the night before, where me voyage home was almost stopped before I left port!

Yesterday I was celebratin' the marriage of a beauty I barely know t' a gent I never met.  'Twere some fine festivities with a good feast and a bounty of grog.  At me table were a wench and her lad who had partaken in too many spirits throughout th' night.  I thought nothin' of it.  Those who wish t' sway like th' ocean while bein' a land lover are none of me concern.

While many lasses and lads were enjoyin' a jig or two, Proptart and I left our seats t' sign ye olde guestbook, and upon return see that Proptart's car keys (for land voyages) had been lost!  A man on deck noticed the drunk lad took them before headin' to his Inn with his wench.  Me, bein' a captain of me own destiny, was outraged.  After spendin' what felt like a fortnight on steering through th' sea of drama, we found the Inn that the dirty scum were stayin', and with some help spoke to the wench (the scurvy-ridden thief of a man was layin' on his back, takin' a doze due t' th' bountiful ale at the feast) and pillaged their holdin's.  We took only what we came for, th' car keys.  With that, we set sail straight home, wonderin' when th' drunk thief will walk the plank upon findin' foes not so friendly.

I promise this tellin' is the short tellin'!  There be more t' th'  mayhem, but the sun would be settin' before I be finished!

'Twas a grand adventure I wish not t' sail through again.

September 14, 2010

DMs in the Chicago Area?

I don't know how many of you are from my area, but a friend runs the RPGChicago group on meetup and wants to do a HUGE October giveaway.  Please respond to say you can if you can and you will be in the area.

That's all, maybe a more substantial post later.

September 13, 2010

Recap, Session 4: Change is in the Heir

I've been using puns a lot.  Cake Wrecks is proving to be a bad influence.  Or a good one, depending on who you are.

Once again, pertaining to the characters and world I personally created:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

The players continued their investigation into the destruction of the royal tombs, and had gained some rest after that long day of questioning and investigation.  The next day Escrow found himself doubled over in stomach pains, unable to join the rest of the party as they went around town searching.  There was more questioning of the minotaur, and research into the Teleport Maverick system and seeing who could do the right amount of teleportation skills.  Before midday, they were called in by Councilman Hughes and asked to help assist an announcement made by Princess Elish.  Bram acted as a bodyguard of hers, letting the gleem of his skin show as she spoke.  The rest of the party stayed on the ground, monitoring the reaction of the crowd to the announcement.

Princess Elish let the public know that the issue of an heir to the Cornwellian throne had been resolved.  The crowd celebrated.  Many went to the local inns and taverns, others went to the streets.  There was music and singing and dancing.  A couple of the PCs decided to observe this in multiple areas.  Roto was suspicious of the situation and asked Councilman Hughes about the situation, but was assured that the situation was not related to the previous incident at the tombs.  Dreamatar and Atreyu appreciated a late night with some common folk, Bram enjoyed the festivities on the streets, and Roto began to investigate ways to locate the King.

After a late morning the PCs returned to Hughes' office for another investigation: signs posted all over town merely asking "Where is the king?"  After Dreamatar annoyed Hughes by demanding to see the King, and being repeatedly reminded that he was indisposed at the moment, the PCs proceeded to do their own research.  Roto spoke with a calligrapher, Atreyu tried to get word off the street, and Bram decided to research the whole heir situation since he was not familiar with the fascination.  Roto discovered that the job had been done by someone with little to no experience, and possibly not even part of the calligrapher guild.  Bram figured out that the heir had to bear the last name Cornwell of the royal family, and had to be of male descent.  Such had been the way for 300 years.  Bram also talked to the minotaur again, and with his natural (psionic) skills of persuasion, was able to gain a better rapport, even if he didn't get much more information.

That evening, Dreamatar and Atreyu staked out an area of town not covered in signs yet, and caught up with a small boy posting signs.  He admitted he got paid to and described the man who gave him the money and signs, before running off a little frightened.  The next day, the party went to the Teleport Maverick Academy and quite easily obtained the names of Teleport Mavericks that could produce 4 teleports in one day.  They also went to the make-shift temple of Olidammara, where they enjoyed spirits as the cleric there performed a divination for them.  Then, that evening while at the Hughes' guest house, Danacia informed them that King Franklin had died that evening, and his burial will be the next morning, followed by the crowning of his heir.  Councilman Hughes asked that they will guard the casket and then the heir during the rite, and all the PCs agreed.

The next day, the PCs marched alongside the casket, with a grieving public around the procession.  When the casket went in to the tomb, the coronation ceremony inside revealed that Princess Elish was crowned as the new ruler of the Cornwellian Kingdom, and a shocked and confused citizenry had no time to react to the female heir as the guards forced them to bow.  Seeming that the grave danger had been avoided, those assurances had been cast aside as a tall, skeletal creature in black robes came towards the procesion, holding its long arms close to it's body.  The PCs readied to fight...


 Of course it was 20 minutes to when the library closed so combat will begin next game, possibly with the whole party together.  It was the smoothest game we had yet!  Woot!  We'll see what happens with this new Queen, and her first assassination attempt within minutes of ascending the throne.  And what about all that other stuff happening?  It's crazy really.

Enjoy the D&D tales.

September 9, 2010

I tried Kinect!

I am spreading the good word!  Or Microsoft's word... ha!  I accidentally made a pun!  *Ahem* continuing...

I discovered the Downtown Chicago pedway today thanks to my dad.  It's a fascinating system when you think about it.  Anyway, while travelling through the pedway I made my way to Macy's and found something magical...

A place where I could try Microsoft's new Kinect!  It was set up and I had to call the Boyfriend because I didn't believe it!

I had an hour before work so I tried it.  And guess what?  It works!

I played the title Kinect Adventures, and I just hit a ton of balls bouncing around.  It's definitely real exercise, so be prepared to not sit on the couch while you play.  Also, it'll take a while to figure out how good the reaction time is, but the system is accurate other than that.  It was funny to see what it did when I decided to scratch my head.

There was even a lady there to help sell the product answer questions and get you used to the system.  You have to be willing to exert energy though.  Some guys, who could've been your stereotypical FPS shooter dudes, missed out on a lot of points because they were unwilling to actually MOVE and INTERACT with the system.  The pictures they take at the end, lame!  At least I looked like I was trying when I played it, and I did decent for someone who hadn't done it before.

Also, I was wearing black clothing and it registers my torso fine.  There was no couch in front of it though, so we'll see if can register you just sitting on your couch at your home.

All in all, promising, but I think the hardcore gamers are still going to bitch.

Do you want to try it out?  Well, you can!  There are probably try out areas across the country, but I know about the one that is going to be in Chicago.

Macy's On State Street
(Old Marshal Fields and Co. Building)
Thursdays through Saturdays 
Noon to 8pm
Noon to 6pm

Only until September 30th.

Why am I essentially helping Microsoft with their ad campaign?  Because I think if you're going to talk about a product, and it's available to try out, you should!  I think I shall take a look at it again next week too if possible.    :D

September 8, 2010

Lair of the ShadowBroker DLC for Mass Effect 2

I know I usually don't talk about DLC and expansion packs, but I am super excited about this dlc because it does everything a DLC should do.

But not super into detail.  Read at your own risk.

So, what does Lair of the Shadow Broker do right?

Freshens Up Gameplay
Everything you like about playing Mass Effect 2, but they bring some new tricks out, especially in the boss battles.  Have you fought a charging Vanguard yet?  Now you will.  Have you ever had to punch through someone's shields?  Now you will.  And you will feel like, as Zaeed would say, a guddamn hero
after you do it all.

Continues A Story in the Universe
Liara's has been chasing the Shadow Broker for quite some time.  You can finally interact with a character you haven't had a chance to connect to from ME1, and you can help her with her quest.  Your romance with Liara can continue too, if you want it to or if you had it in the first place.  And this is something that is obviously a set up for ME3.  Also, this dlc is for the endgame, so you don't have to feel stupid doing this after the big endgame mission.

Rewards You For Playing
You've probably already finished the game, so you might need more incentive than just "Another even BADDER dude" to get the dlc.  Well there are a ton of extras.  You get info about your team, hilarious videos, and a bunch of perks to use for your entire squad.  It is what makes this DLC worth every freakin' penny.


All in all, this is a dlc worth playing because of the fact that it rewards the hardcore fans with everything they appreciate about the game and then some.  If you're on the fence about buying it, do it!  You'll appreciate it.  I give it a 9.5/10 because of course it can't be perfect, but it's pretty close.  At least, for a diehard fan it's pretty close.

September 5, 2010

Comparing Old to New: Only three sessions in

Due to the crazy that is Labor Day Weekend, I am not running a game for my campaign this weekend.  But I'm noticing the differences between this group of adventures compared to my last group of adventures.  This isn't going to get too descriptive because I don't want to reveal too much.

The last time I was running this game, about 4 years ago as a sophomore in college, I was playing with guys that I knew.  So the dynamic is of course going to be different rather than a bunch of strangers I met on the internet.  However, I couldn't exactly predict how they were going to act.

To be honest, they were quite thoughtful about how they approached things, and even with the original group that started everyone was discussing not only their actions and implications.  Even though their characters hadn't known each other for long, there was a sense of teamwork when approaching a problem. Also, they were a bit more paranoid.  These were players wounded by previous experiences, so didn't trust ANYTHING.  Safety was an issue.

Three sessions in, and this current group is doing thing extremely different.  Most of these players are not as thoughtful when it comes to a plan of attack.  And they are very much individuals.  Hence, you get a lot of miscommunication on the field, which is hilarious in some respects as a DM, and taxing in others.

I think the opportunity here is to get a story where the PCs find out what makes them a good team and grow in that respect.  The trick is making sure everyone is on that path.  There are some people who already have goals in mind that would bring them  into a team way of thinking.  There are also others who are following very individual goals and not paying attention to the team potential.

Am I saying my players have to play like a team?  No.  But it will make things a lot easier down the line.  Why am I saying this?  Because I friggin' know.  I'm the one who made the game and I've seen it played out before.  The individualism that is thriving three games in could be costly?

Not to say that the previous PCs had other flaws.  They tended to over-think, and in that midst complicate solutions that I knew could be a lot simpler.  I'm not favoring the tactics of one group over another.  It's just interesting, knowing the path and seeing what different people do on the path.

There is of course a lot more that is happening behind the scenes, but alas, if I share any of it I'm going to spoil the surprises.

September 2, 2010

Over 50 followers!

Hey readers!

I just want to thank you all for, in one way or another, spreading the word about the blog.  I now have 50 followers!  Hooray!  I think I should celebrate with a party.  Cue the music!

Image from here
Or we can just get some cake.

Anyway, that made me excited, so I kinda took a cue from what Dungeonmum does and have a blog celebration.

I promise to make this month as entertaining as possible.