Game of the Week – Going on Hiatus

This is a pretty short post. I have decided to put this on hiatus for the moment for five reasons:

  1. I am currently doing a Journalism MA. It is a wombo combo with an NCTJ qualification. I am largely on top of things (which is really nice for once) apart from my shorthand. Therefore, I am dedicating more time to shorthand each day to remedy this.
  2. I am overweight. I want to remedy this as well. I live in a coastal town and would like to wear a swimming costume without feeling horrible. I am a very self-conscious individual and this has gone on too long.
  3. My mother is getting a hip replacement, so I’ll have more responsibilities helping out in that regard for the next 6 weeks or so.
  4. I am running a Stars Without Number game in a sandbox style, so I have a decent amount of preparation work to do with that. I might start writing something to do with that instead, though it depends on time.
  5. I want to get a novel published, so I am receiving my novel projects! Novels take time to write…

Apologies for this, but it’s kind of difficult to write a Game of the Week article when you’re not really playing anything. I think I played about 3 hours of Final Fantasy VII last week and that’s about it!

Boop! How Blizzard Stole Me From My Guild

It was another one of those weekends where I sat in my room and wished I was elsewhere. These are far too common.

This weekend saw Blizzcon run its course at the Anaheim Convention Center in California and it may come as no surprise that, as a poor student, I was not present.

Blizzard announced Sombra and released a new cinematic while I was having a serious conversation with my SWTOR guild on Friday night. As a part of the guild leadership I am expected to be integral to talks about matters such as “where shall we take the guild?” “what kind of RP events can we run?” “how can we solve these problems that we have?”

However, Blizzcon saw that my attention was firmly away from the Skype call I was in, causing me to make incoherent excited noises over my microphone as they aired the “Infiltration” animated short; by this point I had already labelled myself a Sombra main. I just dropped from the call with a quick “sorry, but Sombra just happened.”

Also, the Overwatch World Cup came to an honestly predictable finish, with South Korea taking the gold without dropping a single map. Russia took silver, unable to stand up to South Korea in the finals, and Sweden, one of the favourites to win, took bronze. I don’t want to say I called it, but… I totally called it!

I’m not a huge Blizzard fan, as I don’t find any of their other games interesting (World of Warcraft doesn’t count as I only really like MMOs for role-playing), so the only other thing that I followed was the cosplay, which as usual was totally on point. Unfortunately, due to being a starving student, I do not have any pictures. However, it has spurred me on to design my own cosplay for some conventions.

I mean… there was someone dressed as a murloc…

Things are… looking up(?)

Wowowowowowowowowow.

That’s the best way to describe the past two weeks. I haven’t done a post in three weeks, I know, but it’s been… interesting. I already wrote about how I am no longer a teacher and how I am rather pleased about that due to various reasons that I have already ranted about. However, I also have a new job. This is the wowowowowowowowow part. My friend’s family helped me out and I managed to get a job, a corporate job, where I, for once, can leave the office after my shift is over and not have to worry about work in the slightest until my next shift. The corporate structure suits me way better than the teaching structure did, and I know what I have to do to advance. It’s a lot more logical than teaching where, to move up, you basically have to become a deputy head and then a headteacher. That’s right, I have officially become a wageslave and I love it! I mean, I always have been the corporate type when it came to cyberpunk, after all. Only this is reality, which is less dystopian which means that I might, possibly, maybe… actually have a future.

Speaking of which, I’ve had cyberpunk on the brain lately. I would be lying if I said that my new job had nothing to do with it, the new corporate environment has had my mind wandering during my breaks; “I could turn that into a plot device” and “I could adapt this sort of environment for my fiction” are two thoughts that have been cropping up, as well as the increased awareness of how the modern corporate world works; the insights that this is giving are wonderful and I plan to fully apply my new knowledge to my fiction, and I have definitely been thinking cyberpunk over the past week or two. I have been in a swords and sorcery fantasy mood recently, due to my D&D games being my favourite, however this rather large new development in my life may have tipped me back towards cyberpunk. Inspiration can come from any source!

One game that I have been looking at, continuing on from the cyberpunk feel, is Sindome. Sindome is a multiplayer, text based RPG with an emphasis on RP set in a cyberpunk universe that draws inspiration from cyberpunk heavy hitters, such as Blade Runner, Neuromancer, Total Recall and Judge Dredd. The game takes place in Witmore City, a typical cyberpunk city flooded with inequality, violence and corporate influence. I gave the game mechanics a quick read over and, whilst I do like my 3d interfaces, I felt like I could deal with the text-based system that the game was using. Everything looked fine and dandy… until I realised that your character is always available. When you log out, your character goes to sleep, but time doesn’t freeze. I can see how this would really help immersion, and the generic job system helps to accommodate for that, however this is a real problem for me. Some of you will know that I hate it when I have to live a game, when a game becomes like a job to maintain. I just do not have the time or energy to dedicate in such a way, nor would I want to. For me, this is a massive shame as I really loved the idea of Sindome. I really loved the setting, I loved the aesthetic, I loved the job system, I loved that it didn’t shoehorn me in to playing a certain type of character and that I could be a corp if I really wanted to. I was really looking forward to making my corporate cyber-jockey and fleshing her out, but this singular feature stopped me in my tracks. If I have a busy month of writing, work or other gaming, which is very possible with Overwatch on the horizon, my character’s rent runs down on their apartment or coffin or whatever I have used for them to sleep in, and eventually they get dumped on the street, all whilst you’re working through a busy time at work. I can’t stress how disappointed I am about this, as I would have absolutely loved to give it a shot. Maybe I’ll write something based in Whitmore City as a compromise, as the setting is great and I’d love to have a play around with it.

The other game that I mentioned is Overwatch. In the last few weeks I made the fatal mistake of watching three of the cinematic trailers and the hype train has come into the station. The cinematic trailers, not the gameplay ones, are like Pixar with teeth. They’re incredibly well done and really show case the characters well; albeit only Tracer, Winston, Reaper and Widowmaker (with a bit of Zenyatta, but all he does is get shot!). The cinematics are expertly done and, as I said, it just feels like watching Pixar with teeth. The voice acting could be a little bit better, as a lot of people have slanted Tracer’s voice as annoying, and as an English woman I can verify that nobody speaks like Tracer…) and Widowmaker sounds sort of French, but sort of not; I find it strange, at least. The hype that has built around Overwatch now has grown for me and I’m just glad I only did this a month or so before release, so I only have a month to get through before release. Oh, I cannot wait to play Overwatch. I’ve already decided on five heroes that will be my main ones: Tracer, Mei, D.Va, McCree and Mercy; however I will play all of the heroes at least once. Except maybe Bastion. How can people find Bastion fun to play? All you do is sit in a corner and occasionally left click! I’ll never understand some people…

I’ve been toying with the idea of running a Stars Without Number game, set in my own sci-fi universe too. It would be my first foray into GMing a game, though with the recent developments in my life I am really liking the idea of something cyberpunk. The main problem I have with that is that cyberpunk systems that I’ve seen are Cyberpunk 2020, which is horrendously broken, and Shadowrun which has a load about magic and fantasy races which I wouldn’t be looking at including. I know Cyberpunk 2020 better, but I think Shadowrun with house rules would be better, honestly. It would mean that I would have to learn a new system though, so there’s that. Decisions!

Finally, concerning The Old Republic, I have started to upload some videos to my Youtube channel. Nothing too fancy, just some galactic starfighter gameplay since I saw one of the other pilots that I like doing the same. It’s interesting for me to see a gsf match from another perspective, and it’s really helping me to up my game. Similarly, it’s giving some of the other members of the community a brief look into how I play and I’ve gotten a few pointers from people who are undoubtedly better at the game than me.

It’s been an exciting few weeks for me, and my future is looking up for the first time in at least a year, though really it’s looking better than it has for about three. Onwards and upwards!

Bitter Sweet Freedom

I am free. The shackles that bound me have been removed. I am no longer a trainee teacher. This feels both good and bad, hence the title of “Bitter Sweet Freedom”. On one hand, I hated what I was doing and am glad to be rid of it. I finally have the time to exercise, to cook, to write. It’s a wonderful feeling. However at the same time it signals the end of a wasted year and the start of unemployment. That feels terrible. I’m not one to sit on my backside though, so I guess I have something new to focus on; getting a job in the lead up to my hopeful masters course. However, this does mean that I will be going full steam ahead with writing as well, now that I actually have time and don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about teaching or planning lessons / resources / units of work. I won’t delve into the “why” I got kicked off the course, though I will say that every single formally assessed lesson of mine was at least a pass, yet they still failed me.

Would I recommend teacher training? In this country, I’m not sure. It’s entirely luck of the draw whether you get a good mentor as there is no vetting process; I am not the first person to have been failed because mentors have taken a disliking to them, nor will I be the last. If you get placed in a school where you don’t get along with your mentor and/or department, you are going to have one hell of an uphill struggle. If you are a trainee teacher and you find yourself in this situation, raise it with the university. I was just far too typically English and just got on with it, teeth gritted and determination flaring. On the topic of teaching in this country though, it’s a rather thankless profession. You work long hours, deal with a lot of stress and get paid pretty terribly. It was fairly normal for me to leave the house at 7am and get home at 8pm, due to meetings, lesson planning, resource creation etc. This is for a job that pays around 21k a year at the start, without growing too much. Sure, you get good holidays, but really it doesn’t make up for the insane workload during term time, as well as the incredibly political nature of teaching; if someone tells me teaching is a caring profession, I’m going to laugh. Teachers can be some of the most venomous individuals. However, I have heard wonderful things about teaching abroad, so if you’re considering teaching, my advice would be to work abroad. Better conditions, better pay and an actual respect for the profession go a long way.

Anyway, enough about teaching and my new found freedom from it. What have I been doing this week? Well, I’ve gotten back into The Division again. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive, but the Dark Zone isn’t. I… really enjoy the Dark Zone, which surprises me due to my aversion to PvP. However, one thing I have noted in the Dark Zone is that a lot of players are more willing to team up and make mutual gains rather than turn on each other, gain rogue status and risk losing their own stuff. Rolling through the Dark Zone in a group is a very rewarding experience and is generally safe, as most players won’t mess about with a group of four unless they’re also a group of four; though a group of four is easier to spot than the one guy with a marksman rifle taking pot shots at you. I’ve generally had a good experience in the Dark Zone, though I was sort of expecting full blown DayZ levels of asshattery so it would have been hard to truly surprise me in a bad way.

I’ve also played a decent amount of Monster Hunter 4 on the DS; I won’t lie, it was because one of my friends is incredibly into it. I also won’t lie when I say that I can see why. It is by far the most complex game that I have for my DS, with the large number of different weapons and play styles, as well as the insane amount of customisation options available. I’m enjoying the light bowgun for multiplayer and the dual swords for single player, as I like my mobility over the sheer power of weapons like the hammer. I’m still a massive scrub when it comes to Monster Hunter, but I’m getting better. I would totally recommend it for the DS, though it is not for the faint of heart. With the amount you have to remember and everything that you have to do on a successful hunt, it’s not going to be a casual game. For that, I think Fire Emblem retains the top spot in terms of my favourite DS title, as it’s much easier to pick up and play without really taxing myself. Yes, I’m a scrub with low mental capacity. Sometimes. I like to relax whilst gaming, okay?

For roleplaying, we had a massive rift in the party this week during Pathfinder. Everyone apart from my character is lawful good, and they were prying into my secretive character’s employment history and background, which she was unwilling to share. Also, having been away from my beloved bard class for too long, I will be switching in Pathfinder. My current character is going to leave the party to pursue her goals without them, as they are inept (in her eyes). I will be replacing her with an Aasimar bard, who is unaware of her celestial heritage. She has the leadership feat, and the natural born leader trait as she is supposed to be a leader of people, a bastard child of a noble house that is now in ruin (our setting has a large army of Orcs and Hobgoblins and undead wrecking faces). Her cohort (main follower) is her family’s former captain of the guard and has made me realise how stupidly good the fighter class is. He can tank, make ludicrous numbers of opportunity attacks, hit things with his longsword, shoot things with his composite longbow, sling daggers when disarmed or just hit things hard in the face with his bare hands… If it’s combat based, he can do it. He’s way better in combat than my actual character, despite being two levels lower and my bard actually having decent combat feats (going to build her like a duelist in combat).

However, my new unemployed status means that cuts have to happen. My Warhammer 40k projects are going out the window, as that’s very expensive and I need to be saving up for my masters. I might get the jetbikes that I need, but then leave it at that, as that’s a fairly central concept to my Eldar army. However, this does mean that I will still lack an “average” strength army, as my Eldar, whilst fluffy and lore-abiding, can be quite brutal when played right… And I’ve played Eldar now for about 6 years. If I get a job that pays well, I’ll either start a Chaos army, or a Militarum Tempestus one.

Also, writing high fantasy fiction when your mind is currently in a space / cyberpunk mood is…an interesting experience… A very interesting experience.

The Meta

I think the thing that really irritates me about teacher training is the conformity. “As a teacher, you are always on show. As such, you have to be a professional both inside the classroom and out,” was something that we were told near the start of the PGCE, along with “make sure your online presence is totally professional and private because parents and students alike will Google search your name.” Now, I understand that to a point; after all, no one wants to have a teacher who goes out on a bender every weekend and passes out in the gutter, or has a public Facebook profile covered in photos from that hedonistic holiday to Marbella.

However, like all things to do with this course, it goes to the extreme. I’m the kind of person who prizes my individuality. I love being me; one hundred percent pure, unadulterated me. I like my (cyber)gothic style, I like my strangely coloured and/or designed contact lenses, I like my (limited due to hereditary hair volume. Women who complain about having too much hair should really consider themselves lucky…) out-there hairstyles. What I don’t like is having to slot into what I am going to call the “teacher meta” where you have to be as generic as possible so you don’t scare parents into thinking you’re incompetent and unprofessional. To eternally present this image of the perfect role model. I’m never going to be the one to go out partying and get drunk and act like a buffoon, but really? My individuality makes me unprofessional? Specifically, my individuality in my own free time makes me unprofessional? My individuality makes me a bad role model? I have a younger sibling, and this is the last thing I would want them to see. Not me being an individual, but the idea of individuality being seen in a negative light. As a budding fantasy/science fiction author, I know dystopias, and this is really starting to feel like I’m living in a dystopian society.

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Okay, rant over. I have come up with a new revelation this week. That revelation is that dice hate me. Last weekend, I managed to roll a double 1 in Stars Without Number, used a psychic power to re-roll and… rolled another pair of 1s. Double snake eyes? Really? Not only that, but on the Sunday, despite having ludicrous numbers amounts of talents and skills and stats that make my Imperial Envoy a social god (and utterly incompetent at just about everything else), an NPC managed to charm my character by rolling incredibly well against my utterly atrocious dice rolling, which basically made my character appear useless. For most of that session, nobody came to my character for anything. At all. Even when we had a diplomatic situation later on, the intelligence officer took it and nobody thought to contact the actual diplomat. What am I even around for? It was a rough weekend for roleplaying, but at least I manage to perform well in pathfinder, though as a sorcerer I don’t really have to roll to hit or anything like that; most of my spells auto-hit with enemies having to make saves to avoid damage, thus removing my utterly terrible dice luck from the equation.

I’ve also gone back to SWTOR, but as a totally new character so nobody in the galactic starfighter community knows who I am (apart from one guy that I told who is very nice and shares my views on both gunships and overly-competitive pilots). It’s great being the new player; there are no expectations to do well, no victimisation where half the team comes after you. It’s liberating and, dare I say it, fun. I’ve also been playing a lot of VoidExpanse recently as well. On hardcore mode. Permadeath is very worrying, but the way the game is designed it wouldn’t be too harsh if I were to lose and have to start again. I’m playing a trader type, so a lot of my XP comes from buying resources on the cheap, then flying them elsewhere and selling them for large profits. The XP gains for this are pretty decent and it doesn’t take too long as you can just autopilot and minimise; most of the time it doesn’t bite you in the backside. Come to think of it, I’ve been in a real “space” mood. Space is pretty cool though… I wish I had the time to work on my science fiction…

I can be on time too!

Haha! Writing this! On time! I feel so alive!

I’ve been giving the whole returning to 40k thing some thought and have decided that I will do so. Perhaps not quite yet, as I do still have mountains of work to do for my teacher training, but I finish soon and will once again have free time to toy around with. I will be buying some jetbikes (as I’ve been meaning to do so for around a year now), expand my Dark Eldar a little by getting a mix of more kaballite and wych style units, then maybe start a small Slaaneshi Chaos army (CSM + Daemons + Traitors) and possibly some Imperium stuff to get my Imperium army under way. The main drawback for the Imperium is that I would need lots of Valkyries/Vendettas for two reasons: firstly, my Astra Militarum regiment is a space-faring one since their planet is no more, so they sport a good many fighter aces and generally specialise in tactics revolving around naval support (and yes, I will be paying the points for every single flyer to have the fighter ace rules); secondly, Militarum Tempestus are amazing when used in conjunction with Valkyries and Inquisitors sporting servo skulls. Grav-chuting elite infantry (who still have personalities, unlike Space Marines!) on top of the enemies of mankind and hitting them hard and fast? That’s a visual that I want to have concerning my army! I will also consider getting some Sisters to go along side my Militarum Tempestus + Inquisition wonder army, but it’s a long shot. They’re just way too damn expensive!

In other news, Masters applications are a go. No, I have not sent them off yet, but I am applying for both journalism and creative writing and crossing my fingers that at least one of them accepts me. I’m still sort of riding the high of “hey, I’m actually moving to do something that I actually want to do for the first time in 8 years!” and hoping it carries me through the last few months. I am still keeping an eye on things and making sure I continue to write for the university paper, but teacher training is also ramping up a bit towards the end. What’s the phrase? “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

What about gaming? What about gaming indeed. I’ve actually had a chance to play The Division properly and get into the swing of things (it got so much easier when I found a marksman rifle and an assault rifle to replace my submachinegun and shotgun build that lacked any semblance of range). My thoughts are still the same, though the game can get a bit repetitive; you run around New York, fight rioters, grab resources, run around New York, fight rioters and so on and so forth. The MMO aspect of the game is very noticeable and I’m not sure how I feel about that. My relationship with MMOs is tumultuous; it’s the kinky sex-fantasy in that it hurts so good, until you realise your partner hasn’t been performing safe practice and you have to go see a doctor. You know it’s bad in the back of your mind, but you keep going back for more. I’m going to move on before this metaphor gets any weirder…

Roleplaying has been… interesting (why the hell did I leave roleplaying until after the kinky sex metaphor…) in that we’re starting a new Star Wars campaign that I’m still a bit unsure about. It feels like whilst PvP is discouraged, betraying the others is wholly encouraged and I’m not sure how much I like that. As a result, I think the Pathfinder game that I am in has retaken the top spot in terms of which campaign I am enjoying the most at the moment. It’s just… fun. I don’t have to worry about the other players screwing the party over. I mean, there is some level of deception, but it’s not party-breaking. For example, the vampire hunter keeps lots of secrets from the party and I do creative “accounting” that leads to me being paid more than the others, but it’s not like we’re going to turn on each other… I hope. We’re still a cohesive group, with the only potential conflict being that the vampire hunter is slipping into the lawful evil alignment and the lawful good paladin wouldn’t be too keen on that. Stars Without Number is going okay, but I just don’t trust the judgement of my murder-hobo associates. Playing a character with morals in our game is just a bad idea, but I still keep doing it!

It’s also 00:20 on Tuesday. I need to go to sleep now.

Good night.

And finally, one month later…

I get my ass into gear and write another of these. Apologies for my disappearing act (sort of), the world decided that it was an opportune time to crumble around me (sort of). Got way too close for comfort to failing my teacher training, which would be a wonderful way to render my entire year as defunct. Nevertheless, things have settled and I am writing once again; and what a better time to do so than the week including International Women’s Day!

So, what’s new? Well, I think the largest thing is that I am seriously considering (translation: I am going ahead with it and hoping it works out) is a Masters in journalism. It’s what I actually want to do with my life, so why wait any longer? I’m finally in a position to follow what I actually want to do, so it’s time to put together the most kick-ass application I’ve ever done. It’s not a question of want by this point, I think it’s more a question of need. I’ve had 8 years now of doing the wrong thing, and then trying to repair the damage and gain some ground back. I finally feel like I am able to push forwards, and forwards I shall go!

In other news, I became a demon. No, not literally, but yes I am making a Metal Gear Solid reference. My Cyberpunk 2020 campaign has ended with a pretty intense finale that saw one PC die in a fiery explosion, one got tranquilised and forgotten about (the player wasn’t there and the GM wasn’t about to kill off a PC whilst the player was absent), one ran away, avoiding more close calls than I have fingers, and one… was me. Our party got caught by two corporations working together who wanted our VIP. Whilst everyone was arguing, I slipped away unnoticed (after critting an earlier disguise roll; I went from clean and corporate to Mad Max Fury Road). Two corporate teams showed up and attacked, so I hid in a dumpster and contacted my own corporate overlords and requested an extraction for myself and the VIP. Whilst everyone was fighting, my corporation sent in a clean up crew of 4 cyberninjas and extracted me. The cyberninjas cleaned up, as they were supposed to, grabbed the VIP and then we all flew away in the helicopter that they came in on. So yeah, I betrayed the party; I became the monster that I feared rather than breaking character. The guy who had all the near misses got out okay, as the journalist who wanted the story and helped us get across country was killed in the firefight, leaving this guy’s character (a media who also wanted the story), to write it and become a big time journalist. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my character “won” the game, as she was deployed to a top secret facility in Switzerland to train corporate spec ops, her family were moved to a corporate-owned resort, which was both luxurious and secure, and she joined the corporate hall of fame where only like… 14 people knew of her achievements. As a covert operative, she would have it no other way! Oh, there was also the 500k advance payment. We’re going to be playing a Star Wars game now on Sundays, but we’re Imperial and limited to only humans. I am distraught by the prospect of being human in a Star Wars setting; I want to be a Chiss! Or a Mirialan. Or a Miraluka. Or a Twi’lek. Not a boring ol’ human.

I also had my first totally improv RP moment. So, my character in the Pathfinder game I’m in is very good at lying. She’s an elven courtesan with a serpentine bloodline that gives her magic and she learned that a trade prince was in the city, staying in the keep as a guest to the regent. Naturally, she decided to lie her way into the palace to go see this trade prince. Why? I have no idea. I did it because I could. Do I need a reason? Not really. Plus the GM wasn’t prepared for it, so he was on 100% improv as well. I had no reason to be there, but I did manage to get on the trade prince’s good side. Win-win.

On the topic of winning, I’m considering dusting off my Eldar collection and getting down to the local wargaming club. I don’t know why, but I’ve just had that urge recently; however, I am unsure whether I will as I don’t want to buy any more 40k models, but at the same time it’s hard to play Eldar as a “middle of the road” army. Either they are incredibly good, or they’re incredibly dead. I’ve been toying with the idea of an Imperium army with a central core of Militarum Tempestus and an Inquisitor. If they weren’t so ludicrously priced, I’d also put in some Sisters and have an old-school Witch Hunters style army, but those Sisters models are incredibly expensive! I think the main factor against me playing any more 40k is GW’s business model. Good job guys…

Another part of the past month (that’s why this is turning into a huge post. A lot can happen in a month…) saw me finally getting a Nintendo DS with Fire Emblem (Awakening. Fates isn’t out in Europe yet…), Monster Hunter 4 and Final Fantasy Explorers. Of the three games, I’d say Fire Emblem has been the most addictive; I love Fire Emblem so much. I’ve completed it on normal difficulty in newcomer mode, but I am now playing through it on hard difficulty in classic mode. Permadeath is scary, especially with critical hits flying about. I think I’ve managed to stave that off via level grinding the DLC, but those first few missions were far too tense; nothing hurts quite like losing a unit to a 3% chance crit…

Another gaming part of the last few weeks has been the release of The Division. Whilst I haven’t had too much time to play it as of yet, due to being incredibly busy with the whole not-failing-my-teacher-training business, but I do plan on playing a whole lot more and writing a more in-depth review of it. What can I say about it now though? Two hours in and I absolutely love it. It reminds me of the fun times I had in Defiance (which I have also been tempted to return to, but won’t with casual SWTOR starfighter and RP, The Division and TF2 taking up my gaming time. Being an adult sucks; I don’t have limitless time to spend gaming and writing about it!

I guess I should really finish this post before it gets too-… Where did these 1100 words come from?! Well, I’ll end it here by saying that I wrote another thing for my university’s paper. Go look at how I talk politics without actually stating my own beliefs.

This is my link. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Never talk about politics on the internet. That’s one of the more well-known rules of the internet!

I am super good at being on time

Before anyone asks, this is rather late because I have had my own little slice of hell early this week. The whole teaching thing seems to ramp up a little in the run up to half term, but the reward at the end is sweet. A whole week where I don’t have to wake up at 6am; I can’t wait.

I think I’ll start with role-playing. So, I hate party PvP. I really do. It’s a real cancer to me. This shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise due to the fact that I tend to stick to single player and/or co-op video games and stay away from most PvP type games unless it’s TF2 (but really? The way I play TF2 can hardly be considered any sort of PvP) or CS:GO. The main difference here is that TF2 and CS:GO are made for it. I don’t slave away for hours building and then developing the Soldier; there is no convoluted story behind why I equip the rocket jumper, mantreads and market gardener. I just do. Because it’s fun. It’s the same with CS:GO; I play that for some mindless fun. When it comes to role-playing, it’s an entirely different situation. I spend a long, long time coming up with my characters. I flesh them out as people, give them motivations, goals, hopes and dreams. I then dedicate hours of my weekend to playing them, seeing what happens and developing them as characters. When one player decides “screw this, I’m killing you all,” it really irks me. Firstly, because they might have put as much effort into their characters as I have. Secondly, because I don’t want to have to be constantly plotting against the rest of the party so that in the even that one of them is going to turn on me.

 

So why the sudden outburst? Simply put, I’ve been placed in a party PvP situation. Not only that, but I’m going to be the instigator! I have become that which I hate! I always make 100% IC character choices, even if they are not the best ones and this time it has put me between a rock and a hard place. My Cyberpunk 2020 character, which is heavily inspired by one of my own characters in my own settings, contacted her corporate employers with the intent of handing over the priceless data / cloned person in exchange for a far higher position in the company so that she can move her family to a better part of Night City (corporate or executive zone). Considering the party is very unprofessional and constantly puts her life in needless danger (I am also the main combat character, so I usually end up taking the lead in combat situations, even though my class is only a weird hybrid of Netrunner and Solo; Covert Tech is such fun), this is entirely the thing that she would do in this situation. I ran it past the GM and… Party PvP. I’m going to have to betray them and kill them, because my corporation doesn’t want any surviving witnesses. My character, as a highly professional covert operative, would naturally agree, but I really feel like crap doing it OOC. Hence the rock and the hard place: do I veer away and do something totally out of character for her and not betray them, leaving her husband and two daughters out to dry, or do I betray them and become the party PvP demon? I think I will end up going with the latter, but I am not going to feel good about it this Sunday.

 

Speaking of TF2, I’ve gone back to it. Again. The call of the trolldier was too great and I’ve gone back to my usual antics on a 24/7 Hightower server. It is a very fun game, even after approximately 1400 – 1500 hours of gameplay that I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a game that I can play after a long day at work and just not think about anything. Trust me when I say that how I play requires very little actual thought. I’ve also been playing a bit more Fallout 4, but I still pine for New Vegas. Fallout 4 is okay, but I find myself largely avoiding the side missions as they just haven’t inspired me. They haven’t grabbed me, given me a compelling reason to keep chasing them. It’s like side missions in MMOs, sure they’re there and might give some decent loot and/or XP, but other than that they’re a bit bland. I’d say I’m enjoying the main story more than I did in New Vegas (to a certain point), but it was everything else that made New Vegas so special to me. I’m still not playing MMOs, due to the grind (the dreaded grind!), though I am keeping a close eye on The Division; though perhaps it is more accurate to say that I am keeping a close eye on the release date. Another game that I am looking forward to way too much is Mirror’s Edge 2, though that has a release date of May 26th (for us Euro-scrubs), which ties in nicely with the end of my teacher training; this summer is going to be so welcomed! Until then. I’m going to continue to let Gaben absorb the contents of my bank account in the Lunar New Year Steam sale.

 

What else could be interesting to write about? What about writing itself? No. There is nothing to say about writing here, what are you talking about? Don’t look at me like that. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE! *runs off crying*

 

In short, I’ve made sub-par progress on my novel due to teaching absorbing pretty much all of my energy every day. I get a few hours of gaming and role-playing in, but most of my free time is spent planning lessons and resources, as well as juggling various responsibilities.

An Authentic Experience

So it’s been an interesting week. And by interesting, I mean totally crap. Got my first exposure to office politics (giving my teacher training a real authentic touch) and I’d really rather not write about it. Essentially, it boils down to people taking issues up with the university first instead of me, painting me in an absolutely terrible light. On the positive, I’ve sacrificed my entire weekend to plan every single lesson up until half term, which is shockingly close! My motivation to be “outstanding” should come from a genuine desire to do well, but in reality it’s all for revenge. No greater good. No just cause. (Whoa-hoooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

So, what’s been going on that’s actually interesting? I’ve run around in even more circles in Fallout 4, because I’m just that indecisive. I don’t think I’m going to bother with the Minutemen because it turns into a single player MMO at that point with its countless, repetitive “make a new settlement” quests. I will say now that I don’t like Fallout 4 as much as I loved New Vegas (I may have said this last week too, but that’s besides the point!), but I will go into that in more detail once I finish sorting my life out.

I also played a bit of The Division over the weekend. It runs sluggishly on my laptop, which is around three years old and only just showing her age, but other than that I am excited for the release next month. The gameplay was solid and engaging, and I liked that my fears that it was going to be a total open world PvP-fest like DayZ (Internet Jerk Simulator) were entirely wrong. I had lost track of The Division over the years, so I wasn’t sure how the game was going to be designed and playing an hour or so (as I said, I sacrificed my weekend) was a great way to experience it first hand. It felt  a little bit like Defiance. But better. I enjoyed that game way too much, so a similar game that is better? Sign me up!

On the role-playing front I think I’m going to keep with CP2020, but I have made a new character for it. After this mission, Renée is leaving; she has a family to provide for; two daughters and a husband. This current team is going to get her killed and she can’t afford that. So I’m going to retire her at the end of this mission and play a full stealth combat character. Because getting headshots by ricocheting bullets off walls is the only way to get them. I never really play combat characters, so it should be interesting to say the least.

Going to see what this week brings. Hopefully plenty of role-playing and some gaming now that I’ve got all my planning out of the way. Currently working on my fantasy novel plan too. It’s an exciting, but fairly tense time!

Better late than never…

In the words of Shia Labeouf: “JUST DO IT!”

So, I’ve been telling myself to keep a regular, weekly blog for the past month. Originally it was a new years resolution, next to losing weight which has met similar stagnation, but now a whole month into 2016 I feel like that wouldn’t be the right thing to call it. Saying that it is my quest or mission sounds far too dramatic, though I do relish in the thought of trading blows with the great weight loss dragon, slinging spells and running away like a little girl because dragons are generally boss encounters. So I’m going to call it my escape. My escape from teaching; the all-consuming entity of my life at the moment. I’m about half way through my training and about 95% of the way through my energy. The motivation stores ran dry long ago.

Anyway, thoughts of the week. Firstly, I had a wonderful success in the form of joining two Pathfinder games during the week. I am now in two Pathfinder games, one Stars Without Number game and one Cyberpunk 2020 game, so my role-playing needs are certainly being filled. Throughout the week I am myself, then I also pretend to be:

  1. A covert corporate operative who is also married with children
  2. A self-exiled French politician who can see the future
  3. A half-elf noble on the run from criminals who killed her family
  4. An elven courtesan who basically works for Fantasy Illuminati
  5. An enthusiastic 11 – 16 maths teacher

I’m also trying to start including voice acting into my role-playing. Inspired by the web series Critical Role (which is amazing!), I have decided to practice my own skills at voice acting for my RP. I used to be a drama student, so why not? I think it really helps for the immersion when done well, and two of my characters would speak similarly to myself anyway.

What else happened this week? I walked around in circles in Fallout 4 and made very little progress. I was going to join the minutemen, but then realised that it started feeling like an MMO with how many repetitive quests I had to grind out. No, Preston, I won’t clear and set up yet another settlement. I haven’t yet completed the game, so no spoilers from me, but I’m getting there. Somewhat. Piper is my lesbian crush… Did I say that out loud?

I played some Skyrim too. 225 hours in and I still haven’t gotten past the Greybeards through a combination of switching character concepts and getting sidetracked. I’ll complete it at some point, I promise…

I’ve been visiting a few MMOs recently too, though I think I’ve come to the same conclusion as I always do: they’re really boring and soul-crushing. I’m mainly drawn to MMOs for the role-playing aspect, but these are my findings:

  • World of Warcraft: Some decent guilds lost in a sea of absolute trash. Managed to find a great Horde side guild for my Blood Elf (it didn’t have many Blood Elves. I dislike Blood Elf RPers because 95% of them tend to be special snowflakes), but then the guild shut down. Also, the game mechanics themselves are way too grindy!
  • SWTOR: More acceptable levels of RP and I already know the RP community well. Imbalanced starfighter matches and repetitive end-game is what put me off here. The pressure of being a known, good pilot on my server is a bit much sometimes.
  • Guild Wars 2: I just couldn’t be bothered to start from near the beginning
  • The Secret World: See Guild Wars 2

What does that mean? Well, I’ve set myself a goal. My goal is to write at least 500 words per day towards a traditional fantasy adventure/romance novel that I’ve had in the brain for years now. I think the concept is solid enough for me to actually commit, so I’ve written up a plan and everything. If all goes according to plan, first draft should be done by late spring or early summer!

This also means I will be playing more “normal” games; Fallout 4 and Skyrim both need completing. Team Fortress 2 is just calling out to me, the urge to market garden is strong. Metal Gear Solid 5 will get a 2nd play through, because I’m a sadist and want Hideo Kojima to savage my emotions again. I may even play VoidExpanse again (great indie game!)

Anyway, this post is getting way too long, so I’m going to cut it by saying that I discovered Sharknado 3 is coming out. This pleases me.