owlmoose: (da - aeducan)
We finished playing through the main storyline of Mass Effect Andromeda this weekend. I've heard many of the complaints about the game, and I'm hard put to really disagree with any of them -- sub-par graphics, too many meaningless sidequests, an uncomfortable colonialism narrative, etc. But ultimately, I enjoyed myself. I found most of the characters interesting, played out a satisfying romance, and for the most part had fun with the gameplay. Since I feel no deep personal investment in the Mass Effect series overall, I feel like I spent less time comparing it to the other installments, and more time appreciating the game for what it was.

Rather than a straight up review, I'm going to tell you about my Sara Ryder and use her story as the framing devise for my thoughts on the game overall. Spoilers ahead.



Pull up a barstool and settle in as I tell you a tale of a lady, her spaceship, and her traveling companions. )
owlmoose: (kh - roxas)
Was I really going to post three times a week this month? So much for that. I'm really behind on writing other things, too. I took a brief business trip this week (to a meeting in Southern California), but that's no real excuse since I was back to my hotel room every night before nine. Then again the trip was fairly draining, especially since my flight home got in four hours late.

We did start Mass Effect: Andromeda yesterday and are still on the first set of missions (what feels like the tutorial level). Started with f!Ryder, of course. I feel like it's too soon to have an opinion, really, but it's got promise anyway. There's some housework and chores to finish first, and I have evening plans, but I hope we get a little more in this afternoon. I'll probably be taking a semi-hiatus from Tumblr for the duration; we'll see.

Otherwise not much to say really. We're going to DC and New York for a week next month, so I'm looking forward to that. I hope you are all well!
owlmoose: (yahtzee - out of context)
Using the same template as last year.

Your main fandom of the year?
Gotta be Critical Role (see below).

Your favorite film watched this year?
The new Ghostbusters. Arrival was objectively a better movie, and I have more fannish attachment to Civil War, but no other movie was quite as much fun.

Your favorite book read this year?
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan, the fourth book in the Lady Isabella Trent series. I love the directions this story took, and the way the ending has set up the final book in the series. I also need to give a nod to the last Temeraire book, for providing a satisfying and surprising end to one of my favorites series of all time.

Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
If I'm being honest, probably Hamilton again.

Your favorite TV show of the year?
Either the final season of Agent Carter (sniff) or the most recent season of Orphan Black, which returned to form after a slightly off third year. Honorable mentions: Luke Cage, the current half season of Agents of SHIELD, Top Chef season 13.

Your favorite video game of the year?
I haven't played many games this year. The only one that really sticks with me is Solstice, which I mentioned in my mid-year roundup, the new game from the makers of Cinders.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I think you already all know the answer to this one: Critical Role. My first new fandom in the last couple of years, I spent the second half of 2016 watching the series, then re-watching it (I caught up to the most recent episode and then re-watched it a couple of days ago), wrote a handful of stories, and basically became completely consumed. A part of me is glad that the rewatch is over so I can have my life back. A part of me wants to go back and start all over again, again.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
US presidential election season finale Agent Carter not being renewed for a third season. :(

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Matthew Mercer. Is it weird for your fandom boyfriend to be a real person? But it's true -- Matt's performance on Critical Role, both as DM and as a large percentage of the cast, is a huge part of the show's appeal to me.

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Peggy Carter, forever.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?
"Anything can happen in the woods..." (Spoilers for Critical Role Ep. 72)

The most missed of your old fandoms?
Oh, I don't know, all of them? I feel very out of touch with fandom right now. But at least lately, I suppose I'm most disconnected from Dragon Age. Maybe it's the lack of new content, and also I basically quit all my replays when I started spending all my free time on Critical Role instead. Now that the catch-up project is over, I hope to get back to that.

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
I never did get started in Supergirl or Star Wars, despite my interest. Solstice might have some possibilities, too.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
Star Wars: Episode 8. The final Lady Isabella Trent book, and the last of the new N.K. Jemisin trilogy. The Defenders on Netflix.
owlmoose: (lost - sawyer)
I haven't done much in the way of best-of lists in the past, but it seems like a good idea, especially if I decide I want to make a more thorough list at the end of the year. It would be a lot easier to write these kinds of posts if I remembered to update Goodreads in a timely fashion. Maybe making regular list posts will get me into the habit. All releases are 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Books and Comics )

Movies, TV, and Other Media )

Solstice

Mar. 6th, 2016 07:16 pm
owlmoose: (cats - teacup)
Solstice is the latest game by MoaCube, makers of Cinders. Cinders is one of my favorite indie games, and I've been looking forward to Solstice for quite awhile -- but unlike many of my friends in Cinders fandom, I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to pre-order and get in on a beta. So I know a number of you out there have already played it. Now I can finally join the club, and I'd like to talk about it.

Like Cinders, Solstice has a number of different endings. By judicious use of saves and replaying, starting about halfway through Act Four of five, I was able to see all four of the major ending variants, although I'm missing a number of the variations within each ending (one ending, in particular has only two versions, and so far I've only managed to find one of them). The endings are set up by a fairly pretty fascinating set of twists, and the significant choices are not always the ones you think they're going to be. All of this was true of Cinders as well, but there was one key difference from Cinders: the player's relationship with the viewpoint characters. Cinders was a visual novel, but it also contained elements of an RPG, in that you built Cinders's personality through the choices you made. In contrast, Solstice has two protagonists, and their personalities are not only set from the beginning, much of their backstories and true motivations are kept hidden from you until quite late in the game. Hidden well enough that I'm looking forward to going back and replaying it from the beginning, both to discover the consequences of earlier choices and to see how differently it plays, knowing what I now know.

I'll stop here for now, so as to keep this post free of spoilers, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking more about the game, the characters, and other people's impressions.

Busy day

Nov. 29th, 2015 12:22 am
owlmoose: (cats)
Went to a crafts fair this afternoon (and spent too much money on jewelry, as usual, although less than I could have this time), then spent the night editing, baking, and playing Diablo 3, so I almost forgot to post. So here I am, coming under the wire, phew! I still have a couple of posts to go on the request list, and I'll get back on those tomorrow now that I'm not under the gun with the DARBB deadline (sent the fic in about four hours ago, yay!).

While playing Diablo tonight, T upgraded the pants his character was wearing to increase his intelligence stat. Does that make him a smarty pants?
owlmoose: (ff7 - sword)
T had been looking for a game for the two of us to play together, so after casting about reviews and his own to-do list, he bought Diablo 3, which arrived yesterday. (Our last two games were interesting indie titles, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Broken Age, which will probably merit their own posts at some point.) We haven't gotten very far in, but it's promising so far, as a fairly basic hack-and-slash Western RPG. But one thing I do want to note: the first NPC we came across is voiced by Greg Ellis, in exactly the same voice he uses for Cullen, and it's rather disorienting. (I think half the other men in the village may also be voiced by Greg Ellis, but he makes them sound different enough that it bothers me less.) Curse you, small stable of AAA game voice actors!
owlmoose: (kh - roxas)
I'm sure everyone who cares has already seen the E3 trailer for the FFVII remake, so I won't bother to put that here. (My reaction: it looks pretty, and I'm curious to play it, but this isn't nearly the rapturous experience for me that I assume it is for many of you.) So I'll show you this video instead, of professional game journalists having a calm and measured reaction to the announcement:



There's also the new Mass Effect game, which I don't know enough about to have an opinion yet, and various other things (that yarn game looks really cute), but really what I'm here for is the new Kingdom Hearts 3 gameplay trailer.



Why yes, that IS a Tangled world in the demo. And yes, they HAVE confirmed Rapunzel as a party member character who fights with her hair. And NO, they have not given us a date. Come oooooon, Square, it's been ten years. Give. It. To. Me.
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
Happy New Year, everyone! I'm going to have to do my various other annual wrap-up posts tomorrow, because very soon I'll be off to help prep a fondue party (yay, fondue party), but have a quick fandom meme for now. Ganked from [personal profile] umadoshi.

Your main fandom of the year?
Probably still Dragon Age, but I also had a fair amount of focus on Marvel.

Your favorite film watched this year?
Snowpiercer.

Your favorite book read this year?
Ancillary Justice.

Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
Of albums acquired this year, probably the TPR remix of the Final Fantasy X soundtrack.

Your favorite TV show of the year?
If I have to pick one? Orphan Black

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I haven't delved into the Orphan Black fandom at all, but it's probably the best new discovery. That and Leverage.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
I'm not crazy about the direction taken by Sleepy Hollow. Enough that I haven't managed to watch all the new episodes yet. I also haven't yet watched the new season of Elementary.

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Steve Rogers

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Natasha Romanoff

Your biggest squee moment of the year?
Skye calling out Ward on Agents of SHIELD. "Yes. You are."

The most missed of your old fandoms?
Is it weird to say Dragon Age? I spent most of the year disengaged from the wider fandom because of my desire to avoid Inquisition spoilers, and since I haven't quite finished, I haven't had the opportunity to re-engage yet. And from the little bit I have seen, it sounds like tempers and drama are both running high, so I'm not even sure I want to completely jump back in. Still considering what to do about all that.

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
I'd like to see about getting more into Leverage.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
Age of Ultron and Agent Carter, by a lot. Also, Kingdom Hearts 3, which is only rumored for 2015 but fingers crossed!
owlmoose: (towel dog)
Now that I'm earning a little bit of money again, T decided he could stop stalling and buy a PS4. We'd been holding off partly for budgetary reasons, partly because there isn't a showstopper game out yet, and I'd resigned myself to playing DA:I on the PS3, but now I can have the shiny new graphics, yay!

I guess that means I should pre-order now. Any thoughts on the best option for buying? Since I've been avoiding information from Bioware like the plague (their idea of what is a spoiler and my idea of what is a spoiler is... quite different), I don't actually know which retailer is offering the shiniest goodies. In particular, if anyone is selling an edition Day One DLC, I want to hear about it. Because I came to the franchise late, I missed out on both Sebastian and Shale the first time through, and I don't want to risk that happening again.

Catchup

Jul. 7th, 2014 08:39 pm
owlmoose: a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded by fog (golden gate bridge)
Heh heh week without posting, oops. Hello writing goals, nice to see you as you fall behind me into the dust.

I mostly blame Flight Rising. How dare you be so addictive, game? The dynamics of its economy are both fascinating and frustrating to me. It's an extreme buyer's market, at least for dragons -- I make way more from selling battle loot than I do from buying and selling dragons. In a month of playing, I've never sold a dragon on the open market that didn't get exalted (in other words, "deleted from the site permanently"). I've been doing some advertising on Tumblr and the site forums, and that helps, but it's more work than I had really wanted to put in on what was supposed to be a fun distraction with some pretty dragons.

The dragons sure are pretty though. So it's still worth it, so far.

In other news, T had some PTO to use up and decided to take a stay-cation this week. So that he doesn't spend the entire time sacked out on the couch in front of Grand Theft Auto, we have a number of adventures planned: one day in Marin County, another at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (we're taking the behind-the-scenes otter tour!), probably a couple of museums in SF, a baseball game with my parents on Saturday. It should be fun, if busy. Watch for pictures. Especially of the otters. Yay, otters!
owlmoose: (da - brosca)
This question, asked by [personal profile] spindizzy, was actually for Monday: "You didn't seem to enjoy Mass Effect as much as you did Dragon Age - would you mind talking about it and/or why it didn't grab you?"

In a way, this question is a little unfair. True, I didn't love the Mass Effect games nearly as much as the Dragon Age series, but then it's rare that I've fallen as completely in love with a game as I did Dragon Age: Origins. So that's a high bar to set it up against.

Also, I did like Mass Effect, quite a lot. I enjoyed playing all three games, found strong points and favorite missions and characters in each. Commander Shepard, as played by Jennifer Hale anyway, is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. (I've never played as m!Shep, so I can't comment on that interpretation of the character.) The series was worth playing, and I might pick it up again someday for a Renegade run, and I still need to replay endgame to see the Extended Cut ending. But I didn't connect with it fannishly at all, and it's never going to rise to the level of most beloved game.

Cut for length and ME spoilers. )

All that said, who really knows why I connect with one game, one fictional universe, and not another? Sometimes I can say exactly why, but other times it's more nebulous. It's also entirely possible that Bioware fandom set my expectations for Mass Effect much too high. Maybe if I'd played the ME games first, I'd like them better, or if I'd spread them out over the years rather than binging on the whole series within a few months. In the end, I'm glad I played them, and that's always enough to hope for.
owlmoose: (art - gorey neville)
Title: Soul of a Killer
Fandom: Ace Attorney. Yeah, I was surprised, too.
Rating: PG
Wordcount: ~1650
Characters: Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, Maya Fey, Pearl Fey
Spoilers: Through "Justice for All: Farewell My Turnabout" (the fourth case). Major spoilers.
Notes: I can't remember if I've mentioned here that I started a replay of the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, thanks to the sneaky practices of the iPhone App store. Last night, as I was coming up on endgame of "Farewell My Turnabout", I was struck quite forcefully by a plot bunny regarding a possible, very dark, AU outcome to the story. So forcefully that I had to save the game and start writing at that very second. This is the result.

I don't usually prefer to do this, but just this once I am going to warn for character death. Summary is behind the cut because of spoilers.

What if... )
owlmoose: (da - varric)
Today's question, from [livejournal.com profile] iamleaper: "If you yourself had to go on an epic fantasy video game-style adventure and you could pick 7 fictional video game people as your companions, who would you choose and why?"

Although this list includes many of my favorites, I also thought quite a bit about creating a balanced party that could deal with many different types of situations, and also about who might work well together.

1. Chell, from the Portal series. For her competence and quiet strength. Plus, I don't care what kind of adventure I'm going on, a portal gun is almost certain to come in handy.

2. Paine, from Final Fantasy X-2. For her sword, and more quiet strength, and her total loyalty. If she has some dresspheres, even better: flexibility is good.

3. Alistair, from Dragon Age: Origins, because, well, do I even really need to justify it? ;) No, okay, but he's also a really fantastic tank, which I need because I am squishy.

4. Is it cheating to say Commander Shepard? Because talk about competence. Also, my Shep is an Infiltrator (distance shooting plus tech use), and I need a good ranged type. If it is cheating, then I'll bring Garrus instead -- his skill set is quite similar, and he's just about as good.

5. Ashe, from FFXII. I typically spec her as a paladin-type -- white magic and a sword -- and we could use a healer here for sure. There might be some issues of who takes charge between her and Shepard, but I suspect once they work them out, they could make a fearsome team.

6. Vivi, from FFIX, because this team needs an offensive mage, and how much fun would it be to travel with Vivi? He's powerful, adorable, and very sweet.

7. Varric, from Dragon Age 2. Because someone needs to write up the epic tale of our adventure when we get back, and who better? Also, I need a rogue type, and he's one of the best.

So, that's my list, as chosen today anyway. ;) Who would you all pick?
owlmoose: (ff7 - sword)
[personal profile] vieralynn asked about my favorite aspects of the Final Fantasy series, and how these aspects compare to other fantasy/rpg video games.

My favorite aspects of the Final Fantasy games are characters, world building, and story, pretty much in that order. When I sit down to play a new FF, or come back to revisit an old one, these are the things I am looking for, and hoping to sink into. Of course, not every FF game has these in equal measure: the lack of world building in FFXIII kept me from investing as much as I would have liked, for example, and the stories vary in quality quite a bit, and even the games I love most (FFX, X-2, XII, and IV) have a dud character or a flat plot point here and there. But overall, I would say these have been the series' strengths for me.

As I mentioned in my answer to [personal profile] lassarina's question about RPG gameplay, I haven't actually played that many RPGs outside the Final Fantasy series, but the one other series I have invested in, namely Dragon Age, succeeds in all three areas listed above. Excellent NPCs across the board, interesting stories mostly told well, and a fascinating setting in the world of Thedas. So no wonder I've been drawn to it, both as a player and as a fan. Mass Effect is also pretty strong in these respects, especially the storytelling, but I didn't connect as strongly to the characters or the setting as I did to Dragon Age, or my main Final Fantasy fandoms (Spira and Ivalice). (I'm still not really sure why that was. Probably that's another post for another day.)

I think it's pretty safe to say that, so far, I've found the Dragon Age games more compelling across the board, in all three of these areas, than any of the most recent Final Fantasy titles (FFXIII and its sequel). And although I have some hope for FFXV, for various reasons I don't trust Square Enix as much as I used to -- especially not in how they handle characters and character development. It'll be interesting to see if I continue to be a fan of the franchise going forward.
owlmoose: (hp - monsters)
Today's question comes from [personal profile] lassarina: "What one evolution in RPG gameplay in the last x years (you can define X) do you most enjoy, and what one evolution do you most dislike?"

As it happens, I'm not that broadly versed in RPGs. Probably 80% of the RPG games I've played since I started seriously gaming in 2001 are Final Fantasy games, and most of the rest are BioWare. So it's not like I have a large basis for comparison. (Aside from these two series/publishers, I play mostly puzzle, platform, and casual games.) And the FF games and BioWare games are quite different from each other, which makes it difficult to compare them. But a couple of thoughts.

Probably the evolution in RPGs I am enjoying the most is the move toward voiced protagonists. I generally connect more with the Final Fantasies that include full voice acting, and in Dragon Age 2, I found that Hawke having a voice added many more dimensions to the character. It makes their interactions with party members and NPCs feel more natural. And I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed the Mass Effect series nearly as much without the fantastic voice acting of Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard. I'm sure it's a matter of taste -- I know some people prefer a near-tabula rasa protagonist, like the Warden -- but I find I prefer my player character to be a character, or at least the outline of one.

If that doesn't count as gameplay ;) then I vote for the emergence of casual mode. Sometimes, I just don't want to be stuck on the same boss battle for five million years. I want to hack and slash and move on with the story. So the ability to turn the game down to Casual, then bump it back up to Normal when I'm ready, is a lifesaver.

As for evolutions I don't like? That's harder to pick. Sometimes I miss the turn-based battles of Final Fantasy X -- the ability to move through battles at my own pace was so important to me as a gaming newbie. But everyone is moving away from that, including the FF series. This isn't a 100% dislike, though, because I also really enjoy some aspects of more modern system (I loooooved Gambits in FFXII). So I guess I can't really pick on any general trends I don't care for -- it really depends on the game, and on how things are specifically implemented.
owlmoose: (otter)
Fandom year in review meme, snagged from [livejournal.com profile] green_maia.

1. Your main fandom of the year?
Still Dragon Age, although I'm doing more and more with MCU all the time. Final Fantasy and Cinders continue to simmer in the background as well.

The rest are behind the cut. )
owlmoose: (ffix - garnet)
I wasn't planning this, at all, but then [personal profile] lassarina was talking about getting set to replay on [community profile] moogle_university and it came up that it was available for download on the PlayStation store, and I haven't played it in forever, and one thing led to another, and now I'm well into Disc 2.

Although this wasn't the first Final Fantasy game I played (FFX receives that honor), in a way it was the first I experienced, because I watched T play the whole thing from beginning to end. So even though I never held the controller, I still learned the story and got to know the characters. Then I played it for myself in 2004 and had so much fun with it. It is without question my favorite FF game of the PS1 era and among my favorites of the series. However, even the replay was before I got into fandom, so I've never written fic for it or otherwise gotten involved in the fandom. We'll see if anything catches my attention on that level the first time through.

But oh, I adore it still. You know how sometimes you turn on a game you haven't played in awhile, and loading screen pops up and the music starts playing, and you feel like you're coming home? Yeah, it's like that.
owlmoose: (art - gorey neville)
I keep waiting to update because I figure I'll post once I hear from one of the employers I'm waiting on (had a second interview three weeks ago, have been in intermittent contact with another school), but it keeps not happening. Maybe reporting that there is nothing to report will jar the universe into giving me some information.

Not much else to discuss, really. Not many other jobs to apply for. No travel or other shenanigans planned (and I'm reluctant to plan anything when the job stuff is up in the air). There's a Dragon Age fan meetup in New York City that I'm contemplating. My fic for the DA Reverse Bang is coming along, if very slowly. I've been plugging along on the 31 Day Hawke Challenge, too. Haven't missed a day yet! Unheard of, for these 30-day memes. Predictably, I want to write up the answers for Marissa now, too, and Garrett (my pro-templar m!Hawke warrior, who's just getting into Act 3).

Speaking of games, I finally gave up on finishing the Via Infinito (stupid Chac) and went ahead and wrapped up my FFX-2 replay last week, resulting in predictable Paine/Nooj emotions and plot bunnies, and I really need to write them another story sometime. Then, spurred on by some impulse I don't fully understand, I started a new game of Kingdom Hearts, a game I haven't played in many, many years. Probably I should just wait for the rumored PS3 remaster that includes Chain of Memories (which I have never played), but no. And then, to complete the trifecta of games in process, I discovered that Knights of the Old Republic is available for iPad. Now this is exciting, because I've always wanted to play that game, but assumed I never would for platform reasons. I downloaded it almost immediately and am now maybe 6 or so hours in? So far, so good, although I think I stumbled across a major, major spoiler on Tumblr the day after I began playing. (Probably a spoiler I've heard a hundred times, but never had the context to understand before.) We'll see if it means what I think it means.
owlmoose: (kh - roxas)
I don't usually pay much attention to E3 or other events like it -- I figure I'll get my information from the write-ups after the fact. But we were promised information about Dragon Age 3, so I've been keeping an eye on the date, and then my Tumblr dashboard exploded in liveblogs and commentary for the various press conferences, so I ended up following along for most of the day (except for an hour in the afternoon when the construction noise from next door got to be too much to deal with, and then early evening when our power went out). Naturally, with that much data, I came up with some thoughts and impressions, almost all of it making me very happy.

1. First, of course, the DA3 trailer, which has grabbed me completely:



Fall 2014! This is a little disappointing, but on the other hand I would really rather they take their time and make a solid game -- I enjoyed DA2 a lot, but it was clearly rushed, and I wish I had been able to play the game the developers intended. I'm glad they don't seem to be making that mistake here. Also, it will be available for both current and next gen consoles, which I know is good news for a lot of people (although I'm highly likely to buy a PS4 -- see below).

Thoughts and speculation are spoilery for trailer )

2. Also good news: there continues to be absolutely nothing of interest to me that's exclusive to the Xbox, thereby validating my choice not to get one. :P

3. Sony announces that the PS4 will support used games and not require always-on high-speed Internet for single-player games. This is probably the single best announcement out of the entire show: Sony will not be playing along with Microsoft's attempt to destroy the used game market and price lower-income gamers out of their content. As I speculated on Tumblr, I have to wonder whether Sony was originally going to go down that road, then backed off when they saw the uproar that MS provoked over the Xbox One. But it doesn't really matter -- they aren't doing it, and given how much they poked MS in their presser, it seems pretty clear that they aren't going to. Score one for consumers. Does this mean that the console wars as we know them are drawing to a close? Only time will tell. But regardless, I know which company is getting my money.

4. Final Fantasy XV! Which is actually a rebranding of the long (long, long) anticipated FF Versus XIII, a fine decision on Square Enix's part. There's a new trailer, which is very pretty if a little heavy on the dudes. But I'm willing to cut Square a bit of slack in this, at least in the Final Fantasy series, as long as they have good female characters in the game. No release date, but still, more movement on this game than I've seen in a long time.

5. Last but not least: Kingdom Hearts 3. I didn't know how much I wanted this until I saw the teaser trailer, but now I'm a bundle of squee. No release date on this either, of course. I'm going to guess sometime next year, which would suggest that 2014 is going to be really, really busy on the game-playing front.

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