25Jul '15
Filed under Misc. 2 comments

I haz a Liebster

I’m still playing catch up on reading all of the blogs that I follow, which is why it took me almost a week to find out that Iron Dagger had nominated me for the Liebster Award. Or awarded it to me. Or just passed it on. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how it works. Either way, thanks Iron Dagger! Now all of you will be subject to reading some random facts about me.

Da facts

  1. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a web designer by trade, but I’ve also had some unusual jobs in the past. I’ve made crafts for a gift/craft store, worked as a pool water tester for a summer, was a student worker at a prairie preserve for three summers, and once had a part-time job at a video console gaming place (think LAN cafe but with consoles and huge TVs). So I still know random facts about pool care and prairie species.
  2. I have a thing about names. I like for them to be meaningful or at least sound like they fit the character/person. I also like them to be somewhat unique, but I won’t be calling any of my characters Nevaeh any time soon.
  3. My own full name has Irish, Spanish, and Ukrainian roots. Which is more multicultural than I am since my ancestry is exclusively Northern/Eastern European. Now let’s see if anyone can figure out what my handle “Faeldray” means.
  4. I’ve never been outside Canada and the United States…yet. With any luck, I’ll be visiting Lord Crumb in the UK before the year is out.
  5. Still, I have been to the Polar Bear Capital of the World and where the World’s Highest Tides take place. (Hint: they’re both in Canada.)
  6. I’ve never broken a bone, needed stitches, had surgery, or had a cavity. I think it’s due to being generally cautious and being very lucky.
  7. Keeping that in mind, I was attacked by a Great Dane when I was five, and have been 20 feet away from a wild black bear with three cubs. Very lucky indeed.
  8. I have the lousiest memory. It’s not unusual for me to forget something someone told me 10 minutes ago. Or, even worse, if I just told them something or asked them a question. I have to make groceries lists and mark events on a calendar or I’ll forget things left and right. Yet random facts or events stay with me for years or even decades.
  9. I’m pretty bad at pronouncing things I’ve never heard before. Lord Crumb and my brother had a chuckle the other week when I pronounced Trion as “Tyrion”. I also tend to get words mixed up as I’m saying them. My thoughts move faster than my mouth so sometimes it likes to skip in order to catch up.
  10. When I was younger, I used to be interested in so many different things. Meteorology, geology, Ancient Egyptians, Celtic/Native American/Inuit mythology, medieval history, zoology, bird watching, astronomy, the paranormal, outdoor survival skills, photography, woodworking…the list goes on. My interests are more narrowed now but I still love to learn. Museums are a gold mine for me.
  11. I have a German Shepherd mix called Zephyr who I adopted from a rescue a few years ago. Her nicknames include “Sausage” and Fuzzbutt”.
I have so many pictures of her. She's just so cute!

I have so many pictures of her. She’s just so cute!

Iron Dagger’s questionnaire

  1. Have you ever met an NPC in an MMO that you wished to become?
    I can’t say that I have. If anyone, it’s the characters I’ve played that I become attached to and wish to be more like. I think part of it is from the fact that I don’t get to be inside their heads, that I don’t get to be a part of who they are, if that makes sense.
  2. Do you experience any mental barriers to trying out new games or game genres?
    I used to be wary of FPSs because I had only tried them on consoles before and only the multiplayer. Mass Effect taught me that I could both have fun and play semi-well. Which is why I now have games like Borderlands and Gears of War, even if it’s for the co-op campaign modes.
  3. How critical is your character’s appearance to you in a game?
    My character is my in-game representation so it does matter to me what they look like to some degree. I much prefer to have the choice to be a female character, especially one that doesn’t wear ridiculously sexualized armor/clothing (my previously discussed pet peeve). I have refused to play games that don’t offer that choice. I do like to be able to customize my character’s looks but I’ll still play games that don’t offer that.
  4. Do you have a preferred time of day to game?
    Isn’t any time a good time? I suppose later at night when everything’s dark and quiet, but I prefer that time of day just in general.
  5. Have you ever had an epiphany mid-game, on anything? What was it?
    I’m certain I have several times but I can’t think of any one particular time. Most likely when I suddenly realized something in the plot or find put a name to that voice actor that sounded familiar.
  6. Name one thing you think modern MMOs could use a lot more of.
    More exploration, bigger worlds, more random things to find. I could lose myself in a MMO world that feels as open as Skyrim does. I realize that part of that feeling comes from the lack of other players…so I don’t know how well that would turn out.
  7. Do you wear geek on your sleeve? Describe one instance that’s worked out either positively or negatively for you.
    I quite literally wear geek on my sleeve. I have over a dozen geeky t-shirts plus hoodies, jackets, and bags. It’s not very often that I don’t have something proclaiming my geekdom on me at some point. It’s only in the past couple years or so that I’ve started doing this though, I was too shy to before. I’ve also started letting it make its way into conversations if the topics come up. I’d say it’s worked out pretty positively for me, it’s how I met Lord Crumb after all!
  8. How long, on average, do you take to type up a blog post?
    Close to two hours I think. I usually have to think through what I’m going to say before putting it down, and I’ll often take even more time checking facts or looking up screenshots/pictures. Obviously some shorter posts don’t take as long, but I have a tendency to just keep going on and on.
  9. Do you think your life would be very different if you never got into gaming?
    Very different. I spend a significant portion of my time gaming, reading gaming blogs, or writing posts here.
  10. Has your gaming habit influenced your tastes in other media, such as books and movies?
    Surprisingly, gaming hasn’t bled too much into my book/TV/movies choices. All I really have is a single World of Warcraft novel that was given to me as a gift. Although there are a lot of common themes that I’ve read/watched for years before I played, such as medieval-ish fantasy, post-apocalyptic settings, and zombies.
  11. If you were to give up gaming tomorrow, what would you do for fun thereafter?
    Probably do a lot more reading, maybe more Netflix binges. I imagine I’d also write stories again. Maybe I’d do more web design on the side too instead of redesigning my blog ever year. Definitely more time wasting on the internet.

Keeping the ball rolling

I tried to find people on my blogroll that had never been nominated for the Liebster award (at least as far as I could tell) and still seemed like active bloggers, which was a lot harder than I thought. I managed to find six so here they are:

(Note to bloggers: it’s really handy if you have a search field on your site, it makes it easier to find things. Note to myself: my blogroll on here is missing some good blogs, get them added soon!)

I’m also going to open this up to anyone who wants to answer, including folks who have already been Liebster-ized. If you have a blog, write your answers in a post and then link to it in the comments. If you don’t have a blog, just put all of your answers in the comments.

Pop quiz!

I’m not very good at coming up with these sorts of questions, I usually just let people talk about whatever they want. So they may seem really weird or random. I’m also sleepy so I imagine that doesn’t help.

  1. If you could have any vehicle of any type from a game, which one would it be?
  2. Does your current nickname (or character name) have a meaning? If so, what is it?
  3. Do you like to collect things in game? If so, what is your strangest collection?
  4. Have you ever been drawn back into an MMO because of an email they sent you?
  5. What game achievement are you most proud of? (It can be a “real” achievement or a goal that you made up for yourself.)
  6. Have you ever lead a group of people in a game (such as a guild)? If not, do you think you could?
  7. How do you express your love for games? Writing? Art? Posting on the forums?
  8. Has gaming helped your life in any way? If so, how?
  9. Describe a moment where you very badly wanted to do something that went beyond the limits/physics of a game. Such as save a favorite character that was otherwise destined to die.
  10. Ever wanted a pet from a game? Which one?
  11. And most importantly: cake or pie?
19Jul '15
Filed under Gaming No comments

Trove streaming!

Queues and crashes

Trion keeps bring the servers down and back up (and sometimes they just crash on their own) so getting to play Trove has been a little spotty. The queue times have been pretty much consistently at 30 minutes, although there were a few exceptions where it was 10-15 minutes. I really do like the game and I understand that they had no idea there would be this many people trying to play but it is rather frustrating. Especially if your game crashes and you have to wait another 30 minutes again. Maybe I’m just not used to it, even when I was playing WoW, the servers I picked never had high populations so I rarely had to wait to get into the game.

queue-compensation

I will give them this though, their compensation is pretty nice. So far it’s been a class coin, 3 days of Patron plus another 3 days if you bought something since launch, and 3 shadow keys. There is also talk about them looking into lowering queue times, which I really hope they do. Read more →

15Jul '15
Filed under Gaming No comments

Banished and Isolated

Lately I’ve been playing good old Banished again when I’m not doing something in Trove. In particular, I’m chasing after achievements in the game. I’m not usually someone who cares about achievements but I like the way they’re done in Banished. Some of them are ones that you’ll just get in the process of playing (ex. reaching a population of 300) while others pose a little challenge/goal for you in what is otherwise a sandbox game. There are four in particular that pose rather unique challenges, the first of which being Mountain Men which I actually completed back in March 2014. The requirement was “Using a harsh climate and a small mountainous map, maintain a population of 50 people for 20 years.” When I picked up Banished again, I decided to try for another one of these challenges, Isolationist.

Reach 300 citizens without building a trading post.

This is probably one of the easier ones to complete simply by having the right starting conditions. I needed to start with sheep since there would be no other way to get wool (and thus make warm clothes eventually) so I rerolled maps until I started with some. Then it was just a matter of having enough hunting cabins for leather. It’s pretty easy to be self-sufficient even without a trader. Between the fish, venison, mutton, gathered food, 2 types of crops, and 2 types of orchards, there was quite a variety of food for my villagers to eat. Even with spreading out a bit to gather my own wood, stone, iron, and coal, my town didn’t take up that much room on the large map I generated. Read more →

14Jul '15
Filed under Gaming No comments

Summer Sabbatical Summary

My summer vacation for this year is now over. Lord Crumb has returned to the land of the Doctor Who and Downton Abbey, and I’m back at work, trying to remember what the heck I was working on before I left. It was really sad to see him leave because we had a lot of fun together and I didn’t want to kill him by the end, like I usually do when I spend that much time around someone constantly.

We did some touristy stuff, including visiting the Manitoba Museum and Planetarium, the Canadian Human Rights Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mint. We also drove 3 hours to Fargo to see RiffTrax Live: Sharknado 2 which was really bad and hilarious. It had a ton of celebrity cameos including Wil Wheaton getting his head torn off by a flying shark, which prompted probably the most memorable joke of the whole night: “Wheaton…Eaten!”

But other than all of those things, we spent a lot of time eating out/ordering in and generally relaxing while tinkering, watching TV shows/movies, or playing games. Lord Crumb fixed my Xbox360 (once we finally found all of the required parts) and figured out how to stream Steam games to two mini-PCs he brought with him. Some of Gauntlet and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons were played, and we managed to complete Shadow Puppeteer while my brother laughed at the many, many times we fell to our deaths. It was a wee bit frustrating at times. Lord Crumb played The Boy while I played The Shadow and we both thought that the other person had the more difficult role.

We also played a lot of Trove, almost every day for some length of time. There were quite a few things we managed to accomplish over the past 2 weeks or so:

  • Got Lord Crumb to Mastery 20 so he could get his free wings too.
  • Then got him to Mastery 30 so he could participate in the hourly challenges.
  • I can’t even remember how high I got my mastery, something in the 50s I believe.
  • Levelled my fae trickster, ice sage, and boomeranger to at least 10 in the process of getting him that level of mastery (while he levelled his knight, gunslinger, and shadow hunter).
  • Bought the Power Pack and Arcanium Expedition Pack because the former is very useful and the latter includes a headcrab, a companion cube, and a steamboat.
  • Unlocked the rest of the classes (including the new tomb raiser).
  • My candy barbarian is now maxed at level 20, and so is Lord Crumb’s neon ninja.
  • Maxed out my ringcrafting (my gardening was already maxed and Lord Crumb maxed ringcrafting a while ago).
  • We figured out how fishing worked and we each caught enough rare fish to craft a lava fishing pole.
  • We both managed to grab a couple launch giveaways: the Insanisteed from MMORPG.com and the Curse Kami.
  • Picked up the Jelly Knight and Battle Caterpillar mounts from the Treasure Isles vendors just because I had enough flux/glim.
  • Lord Crumb seems to be a magnet for mount drops which led to him making a pirate corgi, an ice cat, and a neon cat. He also gave me a couple of his drops so I was able to make a fiery corgi and a steampunk cat.
  • Gathered enough materials to build a Sky Realm portal in our home world. At least we would have if I hadn’t foolishly spent a bunch of faerie dust on gardening stuff, which then led me to trading flux for more dust to get enough back.
  • Found out that the only dungeons in the Sky Realms have no enemies and you just have to collect radiant shards, so they can be completed with any class and are super easy.
  • Found out that the Radiant Giants that occasionally appear in the Sky Realms hit like a ton of bricks and are super hard to kill without a group. Unless of course you get creative…
Fighting a Radiant Giant

Na na nana na, you can’t hit me

  • Crafted a runecrafting bench and started Lord Crumb on getting his runecrafting up. It made more sense for us to pool our resources and have just one of us learn it to start. It uses a lot of mats from the Sky Realms but honestly, it’s the blank scrolls that we’ll have the hardest time with. Mostly because the easiest way to get them is to deconstruct recipes and we love collecting those instead.

There’s also the fact that Trove finally launched on July 9 (as well as going live on Steam). We were in Fargo at the time so we didn’t experience much of the actual launch but when we got back, we did experience the queue. And have been experiencing it ever since.

I only wish I had taken a screenshot of the time it said 700+ minutes.

I only wish I had taken a screenshot of the time it said 700+ minutes.

It seems that a heck of a lot of people found it on Steam and really liked it. So much so that it’s currently 6th of the Top 10 games on Steam Charts.

Despite that, this vacation was one of the best I have ever had, if not THE best, mostly because of the great company. I’m already looking forward to November when I’m hoping to visit Lord Crumb and enjoy my first trip outside of North America.

04Jul '15
Filed under Gaming No comments

Enjoying my summer vacation

I had really intended to have a bunch of scheduled posts ready for when Lord Crumb came to visit. However, it took much longer to clean the house than I thought it would, so much so that I finished just before he arrived. Since then, we’ve been too busy playing Trove and other games, visiting museums, eating out/ordering in massive amounts of food, and fiddling around with the mini-computers he brought over. So I just wanted to make a quick post saying that I’m not dead and we’re both greatly enjoying our vacation together. It’s unlikely that I’ll write another post until after July 12 so here’s a screenshot of me fishing in the desert while on top of a palm tree.

Fishing in an oasis

23Jun '15

Women want heroes too

A little while ago, I was reading a blog post about a guy who was playing a Bayonetta game. He mentioned that critics call the game sexist but he didn’t think so because while she is sexy, she was first and foremost badass in his mind. So how could that be a bad thing?

I won’t link to the post because I don’t want to pick on the guy, but by the time I had finished reading, I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and I couldn’t click away fast enough. I’d really like to forget that I ever read it but I can’t. Mostly because this isn’t the first time I’ve come across posts like that and it certainly won’t be the last.

Go Make Me a Sandwich does a better job than I would about explaining why Bayonetta is pretty much made for the male gaze, how she has a completely unrealistic anatomy, and how Scarlett Johansson would look with the same proportions. So instead I’m going to talk about my own reactions and some of the thoughts it’s led me to.

Bayonetta

“I want my superpower to be that my clothes are made of my hair” said no one ever.

I wish I could articulate just how I feel when I read posts defending what are essentially sex objects in female form. It’s not so much a feeling of disgust as one of complete and utter dread. While it’s not something that I’ve experienced a lot, I have been viewed as merely a sex object several times in my life and I remember each time vividly. It is a horrible feeling that makes me feel like the tiniest speck of dust, not even a human any more, and I’m certain it has contributed to my social anxiety and avoidance of crowds and strangers. So when I encounter it on the internet, it’s like it’s happening all over again and I just want to get away from it as fast as I can.

Hiding won’t make it go away though and I know it. Just as I couldn’t hide from GamerGate or a bigoted D&D group, I know I have to say something, that I have to try and make my voice be heard. What better place than a blog, right? And I don’t want to attack anyone, I just want to try and explain my point of view (which I imagine reflects a lot of other female gamers’ views).

I thought about this for a long time off and on, weeks of mulling it over. How could I explain that just because a character is female and fights doesn’t mean that she’s a good thing? After all, isn’t that the sort of thing that I want? Well, yes, but that’s an incomplete description. It was yesterday that the answer popped into my head: “Women (and girls) want heroes too.”

Gendered armors chart

If you don’t understand the difference between heroically idealized and sexualized, get thee to Bikini Battle Armor Damage.

I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s where we had all sorts of shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Batman cartoon, the Spiderman cartoon, Power Rangers, Darkwing Duck, Inspector Gadget, The Tick, Redwall, and so on. A lot of those shows had their heroes, but next to none were female. Sure, Power Rangers had the pink ranger (white woman) and the yellow ranger (Asian woman) but I don’t think I even have to go into the obvious sexism AND racism there. Besides, I’ve always hated the colour pink and how it’s always associated with being female. (Which was the opposite less than 100 years ago by the way.)

Most of those shows and the associated toys were geared towards boys. They were the ones with the heroes, while us girls got Barbie and her ilk. When you think of Barbie, I doubt that “hero” ever comes to mind. The closest thing that I had to a hero was Wendy from little-known and regrettably short-lived cartoon The Legend of White Fang. I’d wake up early every school morning to watch it, even when it was just the same reruns over and over again. Here was a quick-witted girl in the Yukon who wasn’t afraid to get dirty and was always going on an adventure with her friend White Fang. Is it any wonder I fell in love with the show?

Wendy

The best kind of heroes calmly hold back snarling wolves while rocking a dress.

But it’s hard to have a hero to look up to and to aspire to be when the character is perpetually 12 years old. So I made do as a kid. When we played Lego, I just had to put a ponytail hairstyle on my unisex Lego figure and instantly I had a female hero who was an intrepid underwater explorer and also lived in a castle, saving marine animals on a daily basis and befriending dragons in her spare time. But I had no heroes that weren’t of my own making. I may have played Ocarina of Time, Pokemon Red, and Siege of Avalon, but I couldn’t associate with those heroes the way I wanted to. They were made for boys and as much as a tomboy as I was, I was still a girl.

So I grew up without a hero. I wrote a lot of stories with female protagonists to try and make up for it but it was never quite the same thing. I don’t think that I’m a broken person because of it but part of me feels a bit bereft that I don’t have a childhood hero. I wish I could send back games like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation to my younger self so I would have had heroes to love and worship and want to be. Maybe it would have made me more confident and less self-hating if I had been able to see someone like me who was a fighter and had a distinct, confident personality while still being female.

Aveline

Being intimidating would also be pretty handy at times.

FemShep and Aveline are heroic women. Bayonetta is not. The first two are portrayed as individuals with their own decisions and personalities. They look and feel like real people, ones that can also kick an enormous amount of ass. The latter is a pretty but hollow husk designed to be ogled at. I would not want to be Bayonetta even if you paid me.

I am a human being with my own feelings and personality, and it is wretched to feel as something less than that. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for my heroes to be treated the same way.

1 / 20123456789...Last
%d bloggers like this: