[OOC/Screenshots] The Outer Worlds & Horizon: Zero Dawn

It’s been a while since I posted… and WordPress completely changed the composer for posts, and I don’t like it at all. I am hoping to find some writing prompts and get back into it, but I haven’t been struck by any great ideas yet. I have some characters I want to write, but not sure what I want to do with them yet. And I also need to finish Tamazi’s story but I’m not sure how I want that to end, either. Writing is hard!

Meanwhile I wanted to post about two games that I really enjoyed. I’ve bought a lot of games over quarantine! These ones were on the more expensive side, but they were long games (both over 30 hours) with a lot of replayability, so I feel like I got my money’s worth. And both had great characters and stories, which is the main appeal for me in any game.

Both of these are on Steam, though I don’t think they are on sale there. 

The Outer Worlds

Some of the planets are really pretty. Not this one though!

This game is a story-focused shooter along the lines of Mass Effect, though it also leans strongly into Fallout territory with its colonies that are founded and run by corporations. I am definitely not good at shooters, and first-person in games often makes me physically sick from the motion. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here, and the game has difficulty settings so you can play on baby mode if you’re terrible at hitting things (like I am).

The game has a very cheeky and wry sense of humor, from the absurd advertisements, to things like… a bright neon sign announcing a “secret lab”.

Very subtle.

Also like Mass Effect, you have crew mates that you can bring along with you on your adventure. There are six, and I really loved four of them. They each have quests to give them a useful combat perk, and they have great banter with each other while you’re exploring. (The other two weren’t awful or anything, they were just not my favorites like the others.) The devs opted not to have any romances, which honestly I feel was a mistake. They shouldn’t underestimate how many people dig that stuff!

This is a great game for anybody who enjoys Mass Effect or similar games, good at shooting or not. All of the major quest decisions had a slight influence on the outcome — not huge, but still appreciated.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

I generally do not like playing pre-set characters in games. I prefer to have my own character and decide their past and personality on my own. However, when I do have to play one, I much prefer an option other than a middle-aged white man with stubble. And I appreciate a character with depth.

Horizon: Zero Dawn follows Aloy, a girl from a tribe in a primitive future of mankind as she searches for the secrets of her past.

I loved this game. The landscape is gorgeous, and it’s all one connected world, aside from certain quest areas. There are a few natural animals, but most are robotic imitations that live freely out in the world: horses, rams, alligators, etc. Eventually, you learn how to override some of them to serve as mounts, so you can explore the vast open world on the back of your robot horse.

I promise there are robots in this scene.

The combat and motion is super fluid and satisfying. You have a bow for ranged attacks, and can make your own arrows, which means running out is never an issue — sometimes in the middle of a fight, but it’s quick to make more. For close quarters, you have a powerful spear that you can upgrade with different abilities.

Aloy is an agile and nimble climber after having trained for many years, so she can scale sheer cliffs and walk across narrow beams with ease. This game makes great use of vertical space, solutions are often up, and the game gives you a subtle visual cue to show where you are able to climb. I never felt stuck or frustrated, which is rare with jumping-type puzzles. The jumping and climbing really reminded me of some of the puzzles in Mass Effect: Andromeda, which I really enjoyed (I know, unlike most people).

Another robot slain.

But really, where this game shines is the story and characters. Aloy is an amazing character, and there were so many wonderful and memorable NPCs along the way that I don’t want to try to name them all. Aloy’s journey was a satisfying one, and I really hope there is another game to explore her further. The version that I bought came with the Frozen Wilds DLC included, which continues the story and has my favorite NPC in the game.

Spoilers: That’s him.

Even though I finished the story, there are a lot of little side things I can go back to do, such as finding collectibles out in the world and completing the journal with lore files. Also, you can start a new game with your current skills and weapons unlocked, and I’ll probably do that at some time too. This one has definitely stuck with me after I finished it, which is what I was looking for!

[OOC/Screenshots] Final Catasy

I am giving FFXIV another (yet another) shot, in part because they have a big new patch coming out in a few days. I’d always thought it was pretty good, but disliked the required group dungeons in order to progress the main story. I still think these are kind of terrible, for the record — I cannot be the only person who just wants to play at my own pace, without having to pester or rely on others. I know some think that is contrary to what an MMO is all about, and maybe it is, but it’s never really been an issue in other games. If they wanted to keep the dungeons, they could give you a squad of NPCs to go along with you, and/or make a solo-friendly “story mode” version.

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If you can be a cat in a game, be a cat.

Since I never had a guild or knew enough people who played, I just kind of quit when I hit that roadblock. This time, I was able to piggyback on a friends’ guildmates and finally get them done. So I have plenty of things I can do now, but I haven’t yet found that passion that I have with some other games. You know, the feeling that you can’t wait to get on and play and see what is next. Usually, for me that comes from story, and I’m sure there is some good stuff ahead. But right now, I can’t remember anything that’s happened or really connected with any of the characters, and that makes it all sort of “meh”. I’m pretty sure that is what finally let me leave WoW — you can make updates to fix classes or add more content, but you cannot go back and undo a bad story.

I’m also not really sure what my goal is. I do not have the time nor desire to do raids anymore, I like playing on my own terms and my own schedule. Fortunately, there seems to be plenty of other things to do up until that point. You can level up all of the classes (including the gathering and crafting classes) on one character. I actually made my first alt in FFXIV, a Viera because obviously I needed a bunny. Hopefully in the meantime I will find that spark and find my place there, because I kind of miss having it. (I mean, I do in SWTOR but I don’t have enough friends who play that!) And at least it’s very pretty, so that’s nice.

[Art] ArtFight 2020

Some more stuff done for ArtFight!

 

 

 

[OOC/Screenshots] Kissy Game Roundup

I’m still trying to get back in the habit of writing! I just finished setting up my new sewing room so that is distracting me too. I’ll probably find some prompts to get some ideas flowing again.

Lately I’ve been playing a ton of visual novel games, I bought a huge game bundle a while back that had a lot of them in it, and some I bought separately because I was bored in quarantine. They’re kind of a guilty pleasure, but I enjoy them because they are very low-stakes as games go, I can just relax and enjoy the story and nice artwork. And kissing, which is really the reason these games exist anyway. I’ve even thought about trying to make one myself, as they don’t seem overly complicated from a programming point of view.

Here are some of the ones I’ve played and enjoyed lately. I still have quite a few I haven’t even got to yet!

Changeling

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All three of my favorite boys in this shot.

This one is my number one pick. You play a student going to a high school full of vampires, werewolves, mages, and other things. Aside from the really nice art, which is some of the best I’ve seen in a visual novel, each character has their own separate storyline. Most games have one story with slight differences or scenes, but Changeling goes all out with SIX different stories. All are good, and give you different views of some of the characters, and each path has multiple endings. And did I mention the art is nice?

Demonheart & Demonheart: Hunters

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aka Demonhumpers

I picked this as my second pick simply because I love the characters and the world so much. Which might seem odd, because all of your romance options are irredeemably awful — each one of them can and will betray you in certain circumstances — but I grew to love them, flaws and all. It’s certainly more adult in theme than others I’ve played — I don’t mean sexual, but there’s a lot of murder and swearing and blood sacrifices and things like that. I also really love the art, and the voice acting is well done, something that a lot of visual novels don’t have.

The sequel, Demonheart: Hunters, is more of an old-school RPG than a visual novel, though there is still a storyline and you still have interactions with all of the characters from the first game. (Though some characters definitely have more screentime in the sequel, which could disappoint fans of the others.) There’s also a new romance option, a bard.

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I enjoyed this quite a bit, however the game does make things much more difficult for you if you make certain choices, which seems to imply a “correct” path. Some players may find that frustrating. I’ve still not finished it on the more difficult mode, despite trying a few times. My corny self was completely satisfied with the ending I did get, though.

Arcade Spirits

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This game follows the fortunes of a video game arcade. It allows you to customize your avatar, and pick your gender — male, female, or nonbinary, which was really nice. The art and writing in this game really reminded me of Dream Daddy, I haven’t looked up to see if it’s the same folks, but if you like that I suspect you will like this too. I also learned a lot about arcade games! There is only one storyline, but it’s quite long and I enjoyed it a lot. There are still some characters I want to go back and play the romance for.

Cursed Lands

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This is another visual novel/RPG hybrid, though you can choose to skip all of the RPG combat if you wish. I found the fights fun to do though, aside from the horrible vampire clown. Ugh. The main appeal of this one to me was the monster romances, though there are only a few. There’s a wide cast of characters to pick from, and you do need to fulfill certain requirements to successfully romance them — some only like certain genders, and some require a certain level of affection first. There is apparently a sequel to this but I’ve not played it yet. Oh, and there’s an Amazon queen named Karen.

Never Give Up

Never give up! 7_18_2020 11_31_48 AM

It’s a weird title, but this is a fun (though short) visual novel about a murder mystery at a school for elves. Mainly I liked this game for the fantastic art, it only cost a few dollars on Steam so it was well worth it.

Prince of Cats

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This screenshot isn’t representative of the art at all, I just found it hilarious. (The other characters are all ordinary humans.) In this game, you’re traveling to the human world to locate the lost cat prince. It’s very very easy to fail (I did), but there are countless different outcomes and endings you can get. I will have to use a guide so I can finish some of them eventually. Even failing, I had a fun time playing. Each day you pick a job to do, and your performance is based on your stats. Doing different jobs also raises these stats, I ended up becoming a tutor for rich people’s children. Many of the characters and situations are borrowed from Shakespeare, which is cool if you’re a fan! You don’t have to do any romance at all, but there are several options to pick from if you wish to.

Unmoor

unmoor
I think I paid a dollar for this game. It’s quite short, and I ran into a couple of translation oddities (it’s originally in Russian I believe), but as you can see, the art is stunning. This guy isn’t even my favorite character either! I wish it was a bit longer, but I haven’t played all of the different options yet, so I could be missing some of it.

[OOC] Mask Sewing

I’m sure glad I started learning how to sew last year, it’s definitely come in handy these days! I have been keeping busy sewing lots of these cloth masks for friends, family, and whoever needs them.

My state actually made it required to wear a mask anytime you’re in public around other people, so I don’t see the demand letting up anytime soon.

This photo is just one of the batches I happened to have a photo of, I’ve definitely done waaaaay more than these 🙂

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[OOC/Screenshots] Happy 8th, Kazta!

My favorite small angry spiky girl is 8 years old!

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Kazta by inkabunga @ ArtFight

She’s still my absolute favorite character to play, and she’s had so many adventures both in her PVE storyline and RP. I went through and found some screenshots of her! And I can’t mention her without her loyal Cat Husband, who has been at her side since day 1 — except for that time she was frozen in carbonite. But he never gave up looking for her!

Vanguard Trooper has also been super fun from a gameplay point of view, it’s never changed too much in all the time I’ve played, which I really appreciate. Nothing like coming home after a long day and blowing up some stuff with her big gun. Here’s to many more years of spiky goodness!

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Reunited ❤

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Custom Funko POPs

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The birth of Snacky!

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Cat kissin’

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Sith are jerks

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This is the VERY first picture I have of her!

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[Admin] 2020 Goals

I know it’s a bit early, but I have been thinking about this a lot!

October: (Hopefully) Finish editing and re-writing on my viking dog novel. Produce custom cover art for this.

November: Begin world-building and finalizing my fantasy setting.

December/2020: Writing a novel-length story in my fantasy setting, as well as some shorts that can be gathered together later on. I’ll most likely do these on my “weekly” days.

Of course, almost all of this is “behind the scenes” and will not be able to be posted here, other than teasers or excerpts. I’ll continue to do the Warcraft stories, they are pretty quick and easy to do because I know those characters well.  What other kinds of things would people like to read here?

[Admin] Short Story Collection

I’ve collected many of my horror shorts into a Kindle book, and because of this I’ve had to remove them from this site. So if you were wondering where some of them went, that’s where! The listing should be final in 72 hours at most, and I’ll put up a link then.

I’m also going to be editing and putting up my NaNo novel from many years back, which hasn’t ever been available here.

[OOC] Not-WoW Roundup

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With Eowyn in Rohan

SWTOR’s new expansion was due in September, but it’s been pushed to October to make sure everything is working well. That’s perfectly fine with me, I’d rather wait a bit longer for a better product than try to play something that’s got major bugs. I do wish they’d do another bonus weekend before then, but I already have enough alts leveled that it’s not a big deal.

Also, it gives me more time to try to finish leveling my Hobbit in LoTRO — she’s 93 now and the level cap  is 120 (I think?). I have really been enjoying that, the mounted combat is a bit tricky at first but not too bad now that I’ve had some practice and my war-horse has some talent points. I was struggling a bit to kill things after 85 but it was because I was using my old weapons, kind of like how BC greens are better than Vanilla raid gear.

And speaking of Vanilla, I don’t have any plans to play Classic WoW. I already played it once, and I enjoyed it enough, but I don’t really feel any need to do it again. And for me, the best part of Vanilla was the questing, which any number of other games do just as well or better for free, LoTRO and SWTOR included. LoTRO even has better dungeons, in my opinion, with the skirmishes that scale to both level and number of players. If I could have paid 5 bucks for a Classic-only subscription? Yeah, I might have bought it for a while at least. But I’m not paying the full price for a 15-year old game, so Blizzard will continue to get from me what they’ve got for the past 16 months = absolutely nothing. I’m waiting for November to figure out whether I’m done permanently or not, but it’s quite likely at this time.

I’d really like to get back to FFXIV as well, but it’s kind of rough for someone with grouping anxiety who also can’t commit to large blocks of time at once. I’m “stuck” at an 8 person raid before I can progress the main story. I suppose I could pay to skip it, but I am really liking the story, and I’m pretty sure there will be more grouped things I will need to do later on. Maybe once school starts I’ll have more time, right now I’m driving kids around to tons of activities and can’t devote too much time at once for game stuff.

[OOC/Admin] Vacation!

I wasn’t able to get anything done this week (until today) because I caught a really nasty cold that had me utterly miserable. I finally went in to the doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics, because it had turned into a sinus infection.

Next week I am going on a trip to visit family for two weeks. I’ll be bringing my laptop with me, but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to write, so there may not be any updates. I will try though!

Also, I’m doing ArtFight again this year, which starts July 1st.  It’s a really fun event and you should totally sign up if you like to draw!