It's that time of year, folks! Spring means spring cleaning, and besides tidying up the homestead, I've decided to do a little bit of console gaming cleaning; brought on by the fact that I picked up Resident Evil 4 for the Wii again for the first time in years, played it for a few seconds, died, and decided I'll never be good enough to beat it!
I'm thinking of selling a boatload of games. I could definitely use the money and the shelf space, and it isn't like these will ever truly be collectors items (and with the absolute shelf life of disc-based media, none of it will even be playable in the far-flung future). Here's the list of crap I've compiled thus far.
The Logitech MX Laser 1000. Released in 2004, the MX Laser was the first ever consumer laser tracking mouse to be released by Logitech.
This is a Logitech MX Laser 1000 6 years later.
Logos and symbols worn off, product stickers peeled off, and clearly in need of some hardcore cleaning. To tell you the truth, I never really noticed how grimy it was until I started scratching away at the side (which you can see in a couple of those pictures). It was covered so thoroughly that it looked like the normal sheen of the plastic. It's to a level where I'm almost ready to give it up as a lost cause and buy a new mouse. Unfortunately, this mouse still works perfectly fine, and I'm not in a position to drop another $70 or so on a new top-of-the-line mouse. Thus, I'll simply be retiring it until I can put it through a heavy cleaning cycle.
So my question is this: how often do you clean your PC peripherals? Do you have any horror stories or pictures?
Poor Anders didn't survive. Lucky for the "character revive after fight music ends" mechanic, whatever we're calling it.
By the way, in case you're wondering, there's no new strategy to beating a dragon. It's all about having the right party; one damage-soaker, one buff/debuff/healer, one damage-special mage, and one archer constantly pumping your best arrows into the thing from afar. All while downing health poultices like mad.
So what is the incentive to find a job in the gaming industry?
From the gaming press side of things, real job positions are scarce and most of them pay very little.
From the development side of things, you work your ass off and spend years upon years of your life training, only to end up getting paid less than most other types of software programmers, and eventually getting the boot when your company invariably lays off leagues of people. One "bad" game and you can pretty much hang in the towel.
It seems the only good positions are in the periphery jobs market. Marketing manager, PR shill, etc.
Being unemployed is one thing. Right now, I'm willingly unemployed because I'm trying to figure out exactly where to go in life. I'm trying my best to avoid picking up another shit job that I don't like just to make enough money to scrape by. The problem is that my wholly messed up teenage years left me without an actual goal in life, and now that I'm seeking one, I'm finding it impossible to figure out something that I have an inherent passion for and that I can realistically accomplish.
I started with the concept that I've got a lofty vision for what the internet could accomplish. The internet is one of the most powerful tools of our generation. It can connect people all over the world. Anything you want to learn is almost literally a search away. It gives a voice to the smallest of people. It allows artists to express themselves. It was specifically the idea of Google's Wave, and the power of HTML 5, that drummed up my interest almost immediately. The thought of a more real-time, collaborative internet.
I knew from the onset that harnessing those powers, and getting up to the level of your average Google coder, would take time and a lot of effort, so my first goal was to get my feet wet in the realm of web design. Through various sources, mainly W3schools' plethora of tutorials and reference libraries, I did a little self-teaching on the subjects of XHTML and CSS. Learning the basics couldn't have been simpler, and I can easily put together rudimentary web pages. It would probably take a lot of practice and tutoring for me to actually get down to creating designs on the level of your typical Web Design professional, but I was still happy to know I had completed the first step towards my goal.
It was a short lived confidence. There was a point where I just hit a wall. For awhile, even though things were getting more and more complicated, I was able to keep up. I could dissect what a script was trying to accomplish, and understand how it achieved that goal. I had no clue how I was going to remember the complex and sometimes frustratingly stupid syntax for each little thing, but I would worry about that later. Except, as I kept pushing forward, I got more and more lost. They were referencing calls I'd never even heard of, and throwing out examples where I understood the concept, but had no clue as to a practical application for it. And then I got woefully lost in the concepts of cookie creation and usage and form validation. I had no idea what was going on, and I decided to give it a break.
Now, I'm sitting here kind of doubting that coding is for me. I could probably drill it into my head with time and teaching, but were I to head back to college on the idea of becoming a web programmer, I fear I'd just get lost again, and then I'd have a lot more on the line than just my own free time. On top of that, if I'm more frustrated than happy with it now, who's to say I'd be happy with it later?
I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a programmer, and I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a designer. Despite an artist background, I've got very little creativity left in me, these days. I haven't picked up a sketchpad in years. I can't doodle, let alone draw. Every time I try to think about making the perfect website layout, my mind becomes blank and I just fiddle around with stuff aimlessly. At this point, I willingly renounce my artist status.
So where does that leave me? What passion do I have left in me? A passion for Video Games. A passion for technology. A passion for writing. But none of those have ever gotten me anywhere, either.
Alright, these last few paragraphs have been less and less complete thoughts, as I'm getting tired. I just needed to blow off a little steam, even if it's only me talking to myself. My confidence is shot, my life aimless.
I specifically want to talk about Allistair, and the weird, depressing path that my romance with him took. Of course, you know that if you aren't playing a human noble female, your relationship with Allistair will turn somewhat sour if he is made king. I'd actually read about all this beforehand, but I still decided to take that route. Later on, after it was too late, I found out that there are ways to circumvent this by "toughening" Allistair up. During a conversation after he meets his sister, you can basically give him the "tough love" speech, and tell him that everyone is out for themselves, and he'll start to grow more of a backbone. Unfortunately, like I said, it was way too late for me to go that route.
I contemplated making the Loghain switcheroo, out of spite, but I didn't have the heart.
By the end of the game, with our relationship in pieces, and both of us acting kind of cold to one another, it came down to actually killing the Archdemon. I'd outright refused Morrigan's offer (seeming really weird that there wasn't the option to have Allistair get your character pregnant, but I'd imagine that has something to do with Morrigan's plans for the baby), so it was either Allistair or me who had to die. I tried to take the blow myself, mostly out of spite to get back at the bastard for dumping me. Of course, he wasn't having it, and launched himself at the Archdemon.
So in the end, my long, heartfelt relationship came to an end, anyway, though I'd always known that it would happen one way or another. My character gets screwed over on every love interest in the game. Despite every effort I make to keep Jowan from punishment, he's locked away. Allistair bites the bullet after talking about having another woman's baby. Morrigan, who had earlier in the game declared my character her best friend, leaves on a whim. Both Shale and Wynne run off on their quest to return Shale to her dwarven form (there goes my mentor and companion).
The only one who really stays by my side is Zevran, probably hoping to catch me on the rebound now that I'm single (and I found it funny that, when asking if he wanted to become a Grey Warden, he says something along the lines of "There are some bodily fluids that even I won't touch"; furthering the stereotype that elves are the slut race of high fantasy).
So now I've got the Morrigan shady ending and the Grey Warden leader ending, and if Bioware expects me to go after another one, well, they're dillusional because...
Now I'm off to order the second Bioware game: Mass Effect 2. Because I want it right away, and because it's cheaper, I might just buy it through Steam, despite owning the 360 version of the original. I really want to maintain my choices, though, but I'm starting to wonder how big of an effect they'll even have on the story. I'm certainly not worried about having a level 60 character, since none of those bonuses really matter diddly in the grand scheme of things.
The other option is Amazon for about $57 and a $10 game credit.
Oh, I just wanted to say, in light of recent Giant Bomb comments about people complaining about spoilers for Mass Effect 2, I've never been angry with this site, in particular. Actually, I think there was one comment on a Bombcast long ago that got me momentarily miffed, but I can't even remember what that was about now, so it obviously wasn't that dire. I was most specifically talking about gaming blogs that I read through Google Reader RSS every day, and thus have a difficult time filtering through the spoilers that invariably make it into some of their posts.
Finally, because this will probably be the last I speak of Dragon Age for a long time (besides on the forums... damn it, I just can't get enough), if I haven't made it abundantly clear from all my ramblings and enthusiasm about the game, it's something you should definitely play if you've got an interest in RPGs, or a good Video Game story. I'd like to say I can recommend it to everyone, but it really seems to have these polarizing effects on the people who play it. First of all, like I've said everywhere, if you've got a PC capable of running it at anywhere decent enough settings, get the PC version. Secondly, if you're looking for the fast-paced gameplay of a shooter or action RPG, or hate games with a lot of dialogue, skip it. I've heard numerous people complain about those two points specifically.
To every video game news site, video game blog, and forum member who has knowingly spoiled a bit of Mass Effect 2 just for the site hits/attention, I say: fuck you.
To the people claiming you shouldn't be reading video game news if you want to avoid spoilers: I get my news through an RSS feed, and I never expected to have to add specific filter rules to them. Since I scroll though hundreds of articles a day, avoiding one specific game's news isn't easy, and there are too many other things I'm interested in to just stop reading news sites. Besides, I always figured that gamers would extend other gamers some common decency.
That said, to everyone saying there's no way to avoid such spoilers for such a high-profile game unless you've been living in a bubble, I've managed to keep that bubble mostly secure, and learned only minimal details about the characters and plot of Mass Effect 2.
Of course, all the work I've spent on doing that will have all been for naught, because I still haven't pre-ordered the game, and I have no idea when I'll be getting it. I'm sure I won't be able to keep this up post-launch.
A few words of wisdom: never wear a T-shirt that says "Anime: My Anti-Drug" in public if you don't want creepy anime nerds to ask you awkward questions about your favorite anime series in the vicinity of a pretty girl. I should really throw away that shirt.
I went through all the grueling, grueling trouble of carrying that damn gnome in Half-Life 2 : Episode 2 all the way across the game, and it didn't even give me the achievement for it. Did I put it in the rocket wrong or something?
Also, I was 2 antlion grubs away from that 333 kill achievement. 2...
Those are now the only achievements I'm missing from that game.
Continuing my incessant fascination with Dragon Age, I am now on my second playthrough. I just wanted to post some random observations.
It's pretty awesome how differently the game plays out when you're using a different character. I'm a female, offensive-oriented, human mage (as opposed to my first playthrough male/elf/rogue). Besides a whole different "origin story" (and one particularly awesome one, considering it sheds a lot of light on other events that occur later on in the game, from a different perspective), your choice of what character you play has some nice little differences in the way people speak to you, and how you influence people.
I imagine that the Circle of Magi quest will play out a little differently, as well.
Still, I'd intended to go into my second playthrough as a bitch of a character, choosing the more "evil" dialogue options. Unfortunately, I just can't play evil, and I wouldn't want to anyway, since that would mean half of the party members I care about/need would be too pissed at me to stay.
I'm finding the game a *lot* easier early on. This could be because having area effect spells is a huge boon at lower levels, or it could simply be because I now know the system, and what spells/abilities give you the best results. That said, I'm not in any rush to turn up the difficulty, as I'm finding it refreshing barreling through fights that I struggled with the first time, and I'm sure that the boss fights will be as frustrating as ever.
I'm having a tough time deciding who to romance. I haven't read enough about the game to know, but I believe Allistair is an option, and I'd really like to go that route since Allistair is one of my favorite characters in the game. Lelianna would be my next choice, because I really regret missing out on her the first time (things went horribly wrong when, even though I insisted to Lelianna that she and I remain friends, she became jealous over my choice for Morrigan. I ended up not speaking to her again, just to avoid losing her or making her any more pissed off).
I'm already plotting out what I'll do on my third run through the game, and that's scary. Even though I'm plowing through the game much more quickly, it's still going to be a long, long game, and I haven't let any game consume me like this since... well, actually, since Fallout 3, which I suppose wasn't too long ago.