Game of the Week – 19/12/2016

Before I go into this I would like to explain what this is. Game of the Week is a weekly column where I will write about the game I have been playing the most during the week. It will be a collection of thoughts as to why I have been playing it so much and why I have enjoyed (or not) enjoyed it this week.

For the week, my Game of the Week is: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

This is a bit of a controversial one for me, as I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with MMORPGs. So why have I been playing SWTOR? The answer is simple…

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I needed all the level 70 classes. I just needed it!

I am a completionist. I needed to have every class to level 70, especially considering I had pretty much every class at level 65 before the release of the latest expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne. Pair that with the mercenary class being incredibly powerful and I had quite a bit of fun.

However, this got a bit repetitive. The main draw to MMORPGs for me is not the gameplay, but the roleplaying side of it. The Old Republic has a roleplaying community, however it is not one that I have ever really felt a part of since near the launch of the game. I have enjoyed roleplaying with certain guilds and groups, but on the whole it’s just not fun. Now, combine this with the issues that KotET has brought and I have ended my subscription to SWTOR, so this is the last time for now that I will be playing this game.

It is a shame, as my main character Na’iida is a very interesting one to play. She’s a mercenary who hides her heritage, due to the Sith Empire’s approach to Force users being “Korriban or die” and the fact that she herself is a Miraluka, a Force-sensitive race that don’t have eyes and perceive things through the Force. She generally looks very human, but whenever I roleplay as her I give subtle hints to her not-so-human heritage. It’s very fun, but I can’t stick with a game on just the experiences of roleplaying with a select few people.

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My totally human and not Miraluka Na’iida…

I think I will be moving onto The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 primarily, as subscription-less MMOs, though I have returned to Overwatch after following the game as an eSport. I’ve decided to play a lot of quick play, playing heroes that aren’t Mercy (shocking, I know!) as I want to improve with Ana, Widowmaker, Pharah and Sombra. After all, my current portfolio of heroes I am good at is… limited at best.

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I don’t have a problem… Mercy is just… so compelling!

Anyway, it’s an hour until Christmas, so I’ll leave this one here. Happy holidays!

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!

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…