Playing as Women

Chaos in Motion

ffxiv 2015-06-03 20-46-13-39 Last night I had no real intentions of doing anything serious.  I started off the night on my gaming machine upstairs, but had every plan to eventually filter downstairs to the sofa with my laptop for some more casual gaming while watching television.  For a period of time I was spending my Wednesday nights helping out the second free company static raid, but as they started getting more people interested I became scarce by intention.  I never really wanted to be part of two different raid groups, but was willing to help so long as my presence was really needed.  Last night however they had four absences, so while I did not intend to do anything I stepped in to help out as best I could.  What made last night all the more important is that it was the inaugural raid night of my good friend Wulf, the paladin tank from our World of Warcraft raid.  The only problem being that even with me being pulled in we were still sitting at only five players.

So we shifted around our sights on simply knocking out some early content and opted to queue for Garuda Extreme instead.  It is at this point I realize that while I know how to do these fights…  I suck at explaining them.  Wulf is very much a tank that likes to know all of the information about something before going into the fight.  I on the other hand tend to be very much an “adjust to things on the fly” player, and as a result I only ever have a vague cliffs notes versions of fights in my head.  There are a lot of things I “know” about a fight, but I don’t really “know I know them”.  This makes me the least reliable source of information for someone who craves to make order out of the chaos.  To make matters more tenuous we were pugging in three players on each attempt, and Wulf was being hit by the dreaded instance server lag that sometimes hits me in FFXIV.  All things considered we had a great night and managed to take down Garuda Extreme for him as well as Binding Coil of Bahamut Turn Four.  I am hoping he enjoyed himself at least a little, even though most of the night was pretty much unbridled chaos.

Playing as Women

johanna Over the last few months I have come to a bit of a realization, that apparently my brain works slightly differently than I thought it did.  For years now I have thought that I simply did not like playing female characters in video games.  When I attempted to do so I felt like I just could not get into playing the characters as much as I could the male counter part.  All this time I thought it was simply me favoring a character that was “more like” me personally, much the same way as I tend to create all of my MMO characters as some sort of idealized version of my self.  It turns out I am apparently completely wrong about the motivation behind this.  Granted when it comes to a character like Sheppard in Mass Effect I will always still prefer the one that is more like me.  I’ve come to the realization after a series of tests of this theory…  that I simply have a problem playing female characters with horrible armor and weapon choices.  If you give a female character proper armor and really good weapons then I seem to be perfectly happy bashing things in the face as them.

Zarya Admittedly the trend of placing women in video games in ridiculous outfits has always bothered me on some level, but I had no clue it was my actual impediment for enjoying playing women characters.  The realization of this slowly started creeping in when I found myself really enjoying the newest Tomb Raider awhile back, after never really being able to get into the original during college.  Since I am not really big into narrative game play, I was trying to figure out what made the difference all the sudden… and the only thing I could land upon was “because she is a badass”.  The original one always bothered me because it seemed to focus more on showing off her pointy polygon boobs more than anything else.  Then when I was presented with a character like Zarya, I immediately thought…  “I would  totally play as her, she is a badass” and I had a similar reaction yesterday upon seeing Johanna in Heroes of the Storm.  Give me a woman decked in armor and wielding a badass weapon… and I will happy play as her any day of the week.  Give me a wilting flower in what is essentially a bra and panties… and you can have all of my “NOPE!”.

Finding my Groove

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2015-06-03 22-03-50-29 Last night after the raid in Final Fantasy XIV I decide to poke my head into Heroes of the Storm to check out what Johanna looked like in game.  I had intended to do the “try” option to poke around as her for a bit, when Damai asked if I wanted to play for a bit.  Now I have been poking around in this game since alpha, and played a significant amount when the game went into beta and I finally had people to play with.  That said over the last several months I have not played at all, and was completely out of touch with the current state of the various heroes.  Previously my champion had been Muradin because I could build him tanky or I could build him extremely “murdery”.  The problem being that I was just “off” on playing him because it feels like maybe his survival got a whack from the nerfbat.  I was spending more than my fair share of time running back in from the nexus because I kept dying to stupid crap that I would have been able to survive when I played the game last.

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2015-06-03 23-26-08-94 Damai mentioned that he wanted to switch to playing support so that he could work on one of his quests… and I had honestly forgotten this was a thing that Heroes of the Storm had.  I had the quests “Play 3 Games as a Warrior” which I was already doing and “Play 3 Games as Diablo Character” so I opted to play some Sonya.  This was a champion that I got through a hero bundle that I purchased, and had never really spent much time playing her.  My god..  I think I have found my champion because upon switching over to her I started having a blast last night.  I went ahead and ponied up for the more armored “Wrath” set look from the store, and it is pretty badass that she is wielding Ashkandi in one hand and Quel’Serrar in the other.  What I like the most about her is that she quite literally uses “Fury” as a mechanic meaning you are not gated by running out of mana, but you are instead gated by having to earn fury through combat just like a World of Warcraft Warrior.  We played a half dozen games or so before I decided to head on to bed.  I could have easily stayed there playing another half dozen more.  The state of the game is extremely fun, and I need to grab Damai and do this more often.  At some point I am absolutely going to have to also pick up the Shatterstar themed skin since I am a sucker for all things New Mutants/X-Force.

A Tale of Three Games

Cold Snap

ffxiv 2014-11-17 21-15-23-635 Our Final Fantasy XIV group has ended up taking about a month long break following the launch of the 2.4 patch.  For various reasons we have not rallied the troops on Tuesday nights, and as such we have opted to move our group content night.  Tuesday has turned out to be just as bad a day to do anything serious as it was in every other MMO.  For some reason it seems that Final Fantasy XIV patches more often than not late Monday night leading into Tuesday morning.  This means along with the normal weekly reset we are often times dealing with marginally unstable servers.  Since Monday tends to be a night where most folks focus on getting the last poetics needed to cap for the week, we figured it was also a relatively low volume raid night.  So going forward we are going to try and pull together 8 man group content Monday nights with whomever we can muster at the time.

ffxiv 2014-11-17 21-53-20-145Often times who we have available will dictate what we can do.  Last night we started off with Shiva Hard Mode, since most of us had not actually completed it.  I have to say the fight was rather enjoyable, and it was kinda like a strange mishmash of titan and ifrit.  It took us a couple of tries to see all the mechanics and then we straight stomped her.  Granted this is just a hard mode and we are used to mostly attempting extremes.  After that we went back and did Garuda Extreme again, because there was at least one member of the party who had not completed it.  Traditionally we would be working on Titan Extreme, but it was good to go back and see that we could in fact repeat our victory.  Granted it had been well over a month since we had last done the fight, and as such all of us were a bit rusty.  However after a few wipes we nailed it like we actually knew what we were doing.  Hopefully by next week everyone will have unlocked Ultros so we can take that on as a group, and this should have keyed most everyone for Garuda… so we can make attempts on Titan Extreme again.

To Skip or Not to Skip

Wow-64 2014-11-18 06-15-39-104After our group broke apart in Final Fantasy XIV I opted to poke my head into World of Warcraft and see what mayhem I could cause.  I apparently was significantly closer to 96 than I realized, because upon entering the game and beginning work again on the Gorgrond content…  I dinged within doing a few of the bonus areas.  I still have a handful of bonus content areas to complete, but now this gives me a dilemma.   I am at an ideal point to transition to the new zone that unlocked at 96… Spires of Arak.  The problem being I have yet to do anything at all in Talador other than set up my garrison outpost.  It looks like a really cool zone…  but I am wondering if doing it will basically screw me for getting into normal mode dungeons.  The problem that I ran into with Pandaria is that I leveled significantly quicker than the content would normally allow… and this means that I ended up needing to skip entire zones in the process.  Normally I would keep plugging on, but I would really like to be available for at least a normal mode tank when I reach 100.  The gear level that I came into the expansion with is just not going to hold long enough for me to do meaningful content.

It was my experience in Pandaria that if you could get into Townlong Steppes and Dreadwastes at the level cap to enter them… you could end up getting enough gear upgrades from questing that you were more than ready to set foot into normals… and quite possibly you were within an upgrade or two away from being able to do heroics.  I guess in theory I could keep plugging away at Talador and simply finish all the content in the game before worrying about doing dungeons.  Ultimately I do want to finish the content, because this expansion actually has a storyline that I care about for once.  I guess my only desire to rush to 100 is so that I can get in on the initial wave of folks needing to run dungeons.  While tanking for strangers was not as bad of an experience as I had expected…  I feel like once everyone hits cap that experience will degrade significantly.  Ultimately I will need to make a decision and move forward.  Right now I am leaning heavily towards just skipping Talador entirely for the moment and diving into the Spire of Arak for maximum upgrade potential.

A Tale of Three Games

DragonAgeInquisition 2014-11-17 23-23-02-356 At midnight of last night another game launched that will be fighting for my attention, or significantly earlier than midnight if you know how to use a VPN to cause yourself to show up as another region.  This once again is proof positive that region lockouts are dumb, because they are so painfully easy to circumvent if you really want to.  I however did not care enough to do this, and my Monday night was already pretty full so I just waited until 11pm my time to get in and play the game.  Dragon Age: Inquisition is a game with so many hopes wrapped up in it, that can either be booned or bashed within the first few hours of game play.  Will this game return to Dragon Age: Origin style game play, or will it be more akin to Dragon Age 2.  Quite honestly I don’t have an answer for you yet because I just have not seen enough of the game.

I am however already questioning my choices, and thinking that maybe I should not have gone sword and board tanky.  The game unfortunately gives you a tank for your very first character, and while I have not even completely the introduction… I am already having flashbacks of trying to make two tanks work to keep Alistair in my party.  The description mentions having proficiency with a two hander as well, so hopefully one of us can equip one of those and be done with it.  Quite honestly the game felt a little sluggish, but I think maybe I had something installing in the background when I made my attempt to play it.  For whatever reason it seemed to run silky smooth.. and then absolutely thrash the hard drive every so often without much rhyme or reason as to why.  My hope was that it was just a background process thing… and not the game doing something dumb like trying to dial into the dragon age servers periodically.  The game took a significant time to load… which I do think we can probably blame on busy servers as everyone was trying to launch the client at exactly midnight.  Hopefully as the week goes on, I will have more to report on it… other than it exists.

My Cousin

No matter how smoothly this Thanksgiving goes… it was going to be a rough one regardless.  This is going to be the first dinner without my grandmother, who has been such a fixed point and an anchor in our family.  She represents that last in a long line of degrading family events that pretty much means all of the normality that I grew up with as far as family and holidays goes is gone.  When my grandmother on my fathers side passed away, those meals just stopped in any semblance of order.  We would say that we would try and get together, but ultimately we each made a quick visit in private to my grandfather… and that reason for maybe passing each other in the drive way even left when he passed away.  Similarly with my wife’s family… when he step dad passed away the era of having big family meals went away… and folks opted to break apart into much smaller units.  The last bastion of the big family get together was my Grandmother on my mothers side… and this past year she passed away.  Predictably holiday plans have been non functional.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it is one of the last pure ones.  Sure the day after thanksgiving is this black mass to consumerism… but thanksgiving day itself has remained relatively pristine.  It was a day about getting together and having a meal with your family, and that mission was just simple enough to stay pretty true to its original goal.  There is something about sharing a meal with friends and family that is just special to me… and for years I tried to convince my family to turn Christmas into Thanksgiving 2.0… where we just got together and shared conversation and food… and forgot the presents.  My grandmothers house was this focal point of all of the family activity.  She was such a strong matriarch and she is as much a reason for why I am the person I am… as anyone in my life is.  I spent the majority of my childhood at her house, with her as my companion and friend.  So this Thanksgiving was always going to be a hard one, no matter what happened.

The interesting thing that I have noted as we have gone through a series of recent funerals is how well my generation seems to get along with one another.  When my grandmother passed away, I stayed long after most of the folks had left just talking to my cousins.  My generation just does not fit into our family as a whole… we went out into the world and for the most part all did something with our lives beyond the boundaries of the small town my family hails from.  The other day my wife was lamenting how strange Thanksgiving would be without my grandmother on facebook, and at this one of my cousins announced that she was intending to invite us to have the meal with them.  Apparently she had gone through the same malaise and similarly they had a few deaths in their family that pretty much ended up with the holiday decimated.  So as such here we go trying to start our own new traditions.  Hopefully Thanksgiving will go smoothly, but in any case it will be better than spending it without family.

Carried to Greatness

Some days are harder

There are some days where the magic just doesn’t seem to want to happen, even when you feel like you have a lot to say.  This morning I have been sitting around for the last twelve minutes doing everything I could to avoid opening LiveWriter and begin banging away on the keyboard.  Sometimes it happens and this is perfectly okay.  Yesterday there was a series of tweets that I was party to about what happens when you decide you want to go in a different direction than you started.  You would be shocked and amazed at just how many times I start in one direction and then decide that it is not in fact what I want to say.  There have been so many paragraphs sacrificed on the altar of mood swings, and I am here to tell you that this is perfectly okay.

In fact I would go so far as to say this is entirely expected as part of the daily writing ritual.  There are going to be days you struggle to find meaning from your cluttered mind, and it is completely fine for you to jettison one idea in favor of another.  Please do not ever feel obligated to complete a thought.  Just because you get two sentences down on the page, does not mean you have to follow up with the rest of a paragraph.  If you can have sketches in the margin of a notebook, you can surely also have room for the same thing to be happening with your writing.  There are so many things that Blaugust is “about” but one of them definitely is about being comfortable with your own words, and knowing when they work and when they do not.  Not everything you write has to be a masterpiece, and some things are destined only to be pushed out the airlock.

Carried to Greatness

ffxiv 2014-08-07 21-02-33-014 One of the things I have been avoiding doing since coming back to the game is wrapping up my Relic weapon quest in Final Fantasy XIV.  Before we left we had completely a number of the steps as a group.  I went through the extreme cost of getting the base weapon, and getting the two materia fused to it.  Then as a guild we conquered both the Chimera and the Hydra.  Finally I was up to the three Hard Mode primal fights of Ifrit, Garuda and Titan in that order.  A week or so ago I managed to get through Ifrit but I figured that was a fluke considering just how easy of a fight it is.  I also had intimate knowledge of that fight considering we had legitimately downed him as a guild.  The only problem is when we did it as a guild, I was using my bard job and not my warrior one… and did not get credit for it.

Garuda scares the shit out of me.  This was a hard fight for us to learn as a four man team at level, so I could not image just how frustrating and painful it would be as a tank.  I watched as my guildies that were not tanks queued for it and got it taken care of without issue, but still I was pretty gunshy.  Had it not been for Ashgar queuing up as a tank last night and talking about just how easy the encounter was… I likely would still be waiting.  Sure enough upon queuing I ended up getting dumped into a group with lots of folks that were in raid gear, and essentially I became the groups mascot.  Before I knew it we had downed Garuda and I was moving on to the next step in the quest chain that involved a good deal of running around.  All of my nerves were literally for nothing because at this point in the game…  folks have progressed so far past the hurdle that was hard mode Garuda that it became manageable without really knowing the fight myself.

ffxiv 2014-08-07 23-19-55-252 Titan on the other hand was still a challenge.  Once again I was the mascot of the group and really served to give no benefit other than miniscule dps.  The problem with titan is there is so much that goes on between the attacks that knock you off the platform, the attacks that can one shot you, and the crazy exploding rocks that can make you into a venn diagram.  It took my team three tries to get through the encounter, and with each wipe we gained a stack of echo…  which works much the same as the determination buff in World of Warcraft.  After all of the nervousness I was sitting there with all the components I needed to finish my Bravura.  While this is no longer the be all end all weapon… it still feels like a big deal to me.  I honestly questioned if I would ever complete it, so now I am absolutely pumped to be holding it in my hands.  I still need to farm a few more “bookrocks” before I can upgrade it to the next step, but hopefully I will get those tonight.

Nostalgia Crit 9999

Gearing Up to Celebrate 10 Years of World of Warcraft

Something I have been meaning to talk about for a few days is the recent announcement of the World of Warcraft 10th anniversary events.  Firstly lets get the fact that they are announcing them in August when the anniversary is not until the tail end of November out of the way.  I guess they need some good news to be honest considering how most of the community expected to be playing Warlords by now.  For those who have not followed the information they are doing a number of interesting things for the anniversary.  For starters anyone who logs in during the event is going to get a new pet in honor of it… the Molten Corgi.  When I first heard about the pet I honestly thought I had misheard some bit of information and it was related to Rift instead.  It feels weird to have two different MMOs obsessed with the adorable stub legged puppies.  That said it is exactly that… adorable and fiery and sufficiently epic to announce the 10th year of a game.

Keeping with the theme they are bringing back Molten Core, and making it a max level dungeon… and making it a special 40 man LFR.  Anyone who manages to make it to the end of the dungeon will earn a special Core Hound mount.  I have not heard if this is going to be complete-able with a guild group or not, or if this is going to only be an LFR thing.  I honesty feel like LFR is a decent simulacrum for the way actual 40 man raiding felt.  The amount of random fuckery that went on during most 40 man raids as 20 people carried 20 warm bodies to victory, seems like it could only be simulated by the LFR system.  It makes me wonder what all sorts of callbacks will they have.  Will there be a new version of Thurderfury for example?  The updated Quelserrar for example was something I hotly sought after, because I loved the look of that blade.

If all of this were not enough they are bringing back the one and only time that world PVP actually worked…  Southshore vs Tarren Mill.  They are apparently creating a special 100 vs 100 battleground to play out the epic battle of town versus town that used to play out on a nightly basis.  This is seriously the only time in WoW history that I actually willfully participated in PVP, and so many friendships grew out of it that I still keep in touch with today.  This era of wow was one of those lightning in a bottle moments, and I can’t even remember why it stopped.  I am sure it was in reaction to something that blizzard did to screw with the mix, but I remember by the time Ahn’qiraj rolled around no one was actually doing this fight any longer.  Maybe the battlegrounds were the nail in the coffin?  At this point I honestly cannot remember.

All of this sounds awesome and is loaded with so much nostalgia it is like a sucker punch to the veteran players face.  The problem is… we remember these events from the past of WoW as being so much more epic and enjoyable than they actually were.  For years we have viewed the early days of wow through rose colored lenses of a time when “things were right and good”.  When in reality they really were not that great.  The amount of lag that happened in Southshore for example made most of the deaths absolutely random.  The amount of drama and bullshit that accompanied Molten Core and the loss of three hours of your life every week to run it was equally insane.  These are not exactly moments to be heralded as the way things ought to be.  They were us making the best out of a bad situation and enjoying what game play we could find where we could find it.

I came in late to Molten Core after my raid had already broken its back doing the hard work to get it on farm status.  I was carried to my full set of Giantstalker, and then proceeded to run the dungeon every single week until pretty much the end of Vanilla.  I still have large sections of the pulls in that place memorized, as I geared up first my hunter, then my paladin and my warrior running the place for various people who needed able bodied fill-ins.  None of my “good memories” of this time in Vanilla have anything to do with the actual places we were running.  It was the people I happened to be running them with.  You cannot reassemble the raid I cleared Molten Core with, or the social channel that we ran Southshore versus Tarren MIll out of.  Those players have all scattered to the wind and a bunch of random socially inept strangers are a piss poor substitute.

Liore made a post earlier this week about that you can’t go back home, and it is true.  While everything about this event is laced with the drug that is nostalgia…  none of it is real.  How we feel about that time in World of Warcraft is an accumulation of everything that was happening at the time.  It was the people and the places and the fact that there was literally nothing else to do at the time, because WoW was the only game on the market that offered anything vaguely close to this.  No amount of wishing is going to actually turn back the clock and recapture the joy and experiences you had back then.  Don’t get me wrong… I will probably log in during the event to get my shiny trinkets… but I go into it knowing this is a pale comparison to the way things actually were.  There is no such thing as going home, because both you and the place you are going have changed in the process of getting away from it.

Writing Prompts

Now for a few more writing prompts.  I wondered if this would end up being useful but based on the fact that a handful of people have been drawing from them I guess it is a worthwhile cause.  Today’s prompts are all laced with the venom that is nostalgia.

  • What period in a game or game do you wish you could return to?  What is that thing that is now gone that you wish you could be playing again?
  • We all accidentally get rid of something that we end up wanting later on.  What have you deleted/disenchanted/sold that you later kicked yourself for doing?
  • We have all left something unfinished in our effort to move on to something new.  What achievement have you never completed that you always wished in the back of your head you had?

#Blaugust #FFXIV #WoW