No Man’s Sky Review – Should You Buy?

No Man's Sky Review

No Man’s Sky, the long anticipated space exploration game, released recently on both PS4 and PC. The gaming community hyped it up since its first announcement. But did it live up to expectations?

I have invested around 25 or so hours into the game so far since its launch. I wasn’t particularly over-excited for No Man’s Sky. It looked enjoyable, and I love space games. However, I was also satisfied with my repertoire of available space exploration games as it was. With that in mind, I cautiously watched from the sidelines, avoiding too many spoilers, and looked forward to the game coming out so I could try it for myself. It’s safe to say I didn’t buy into the hype too much.

That said, I do very much enjoy No Man’s Sky. I also have a lot of criticisms for it. It is not without its flaws, and at the moment it seems that the gaming community is divided: either they love the game and think its perfect as it is, or they hate it and scorn Sean Murray for his somewhat misleading statements leading up to the game’s release. I fall a little in the middle.

Here is my No Man’s Sky review after spending a substantial amount of time in game, exploring three systems and numerous planets (both inhabited and completely empty.)

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Don’t Be a Downer | We Happy Few – First Impressions

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I love playing horror games and scaring myself, but if there’s one thing I’m terrified of more than any of the games I’ve played to spook myself it’s surrealism, particularly the happy kind. For this very reason, We Happy Few genuinely seemed like the perfect game for me. With a suitably creepy aesthetic and theme, and the chirpy surrealism that rustles me to my core, We Happy Few quickly earned the spot as my most highly anticipated Kickstarter game, and I backed it almost immediately.

I have been excited for its release ever since I backed it just over a year ago, and after that I tried to put it to the back of my mind so I could go into the game with a fresh pair of eyes and a completely unspoiled mind, ready to be freaked out. I ignored the E3 coverage and waited patiently for its release. I almost decided not to play in Early Access when I discovered that its story hadn’t been released yet, and it was instead a fairly early demo version of the game, but my excitement got the better of me.

Sadly, I was quite disappointed.

Here are my initial thoughts and first impressions of We Happy Few, along with a breakdown of what the game is, what it does well, and where it needs to improve. I’ll also give you a recommendation at the end on whether or not I think you should pick it up and why.

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Some of my must-have Skyrim Special Edition mods

Some of my must-have Skyrim mods!

Note: This post is updated for Skyrim Special Edition! If you are looking for the mods I use with vanilla Skyrim, you can find them at the very bottom of the post!

One of the first questions I get asked whenever people stop by my Skyrim streams is, “What Skyrim mods do you use?” As Skyrim is one of my favourite games (The Elder Scrolls fangirl for life!) and modding is one of my favourite parts of these games, I figured I’d share some of my must-have mods for Skyrim Special Edition now that it’s been released.

Most of these mods have been installed using the Nexus Mod Manager, and are pretty simple to get set-up! There are also some mods available through the Mods section of the game, and I will note these where I have installed them in that way. If you see [IN-GAME] this means I installed it through the in-game Mods menu. Sometimes these are also available on the Nexus, so if you’d prefer to install that way just look them up! But I can’t guarantee they’re there, or that they work with other mods when installed this way as I have only tested those ones through in-game installation.

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Stardew Valley Review | An Addiction Blossoms

Getting Started in Stardew Valley | Stardew Valley Review

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always really loved the idea of taking a step back from “modern life” and getting absorbed in the simple life of farming and living off the land. For that reason, the adorable new game Stardew Valley really appealed to me from the get go — a cute, pixelated indie game that focuses almost entirely on farming? Sign me up!

Now that it’s been out for around three weeks, and I’ve become thoroughly addicted to it, I’d like to share my thoughts in my Stardew Valley review.

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SOMA Review

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SOMA is a recent sci-fi horror game by Frictional Games, whom you might know as the geniuses behind the terribly spooky Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its sequel, A Machine for Pigs. At first, I had heard that SOMA wasn’t scary and was more of a “creepy” atmospheric game, but I can confirm after completing it that this is not at all true!

After finishing the game over the weekend, here’s my SOMA review including some details about what the game’s about, initial thoughts, what it does well and what could be improved. As well as a final note on whether you should play it! (Hint: You probably should!)

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Layers of Fear First Impressions Review

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Being a huge fan of horror games, I absolutely had to pick up Layers of Fear. Described as a “psychedelic horror”, you play a painter who is feverishly attempting to complete a true masterpiece while going mad in the process. Having watched several streams and videos, I knew I would enjoy it.

I wanted to share with you guys my first impressions of Layers of Fear, in the form of a review of all of the currently playable preview.

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Wildstar Free2Play Launch

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Wildstar was a game I enjoyed greatly when it first came out, but which fell foul of one of the MMO’s biggest issues as a genre: playing solo became quite boring, and I ended up giving up before I got too far due to there being fewer players in my level range doing any of the content. This was mostly problematic because I was very slow at levelling, but higher level players had no real reason to come back to my zones and so I was left exploring by myself. Now that it’s gone free2play this week, I’m really hyped to try it again.

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Elite Dangerous Mayhem Event

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Elite: Dangerous fans, you’ll know that there’s a little event going on right now called CQC Mayhem, or alternatively just Mayhem for short. This event is packed full of challenges, streams, and most importantly MAYHEM! Cough. I’m sorry, that was cheesy.

Anyway, all of these activities are taking place on the 1.4 stress test server, and to celebrate I will be streaming some CQC this evening with three immensely talented pilots and streamers: KateClick, G33kGrrly_Gaming and RheaAyase (the latter of which is a total beast in combat and definitely one to look out for!) Make sure you’re following all of them on Twitch for amazing Elite: Dangerous gameplay and also a wide variety of other games too.

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Soul Axiom First Impressions Review

Soul Axiom First Impressions ReviewI recently received a copy of Soul Axiom from the kind folks at Wales Interactive, and after hearing it was a sci-fi adventure game with a bit of a creepy twist, I was instantly intrigued. You guys know I absolutely love creepy games, and I’ve been on a real cyberpunky sci-fi kick lately, so this seemed right up my alley!

Soul Axiom First Impressions Review

The game opens with your character falling through the sky and landing unceremoniously on a spectral looking ship. You don’t know anything about yourself or where you are, but some exploration starts to reveal the basics of the game, and no sooner had I started to feel comfortable with my surroundings than a giant woman with wings let out a bird-like shriek and started ripping my spectral looking ship apart!

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I’m an Alt-a-Holic (Blaugust #25)

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As you can see, my Guild Wars 2 characters reveal my altitis. Though ooh, I do have one more character slot!
I admit it. When it comes to MMOs, and even sometimes RPGs, I’m definitely an alt-a-holic. I have altitis. Whatever you want to call it, I make too many goddamn alts!

Why do I do it? First of all, in traditional MMOs — in this regard FFXIV does not count as traditional — playing all the classes meant creating a new character for each one. Frequently I would have at least two characters going at any one time, and as I rarely made it to level cap in past MMOs that didn’t matter all that much. I have a tendency to be indecisive about what class I actually want to play, so this often manifests itself in me creating a new character every now and again. Worse still, I frequently want to look at a pretty new character without having to spend real money because I’m cheap. There, I said it. I’m cheap.

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Accepting Tips/Donations as a Streamer (Blaugust #24)

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Image from FreeImages.com.
As many of you know, I have been streaming for a while now, but in the last few months or so I’ve become more committed and started following a much more consistent schedule. I stream three to four nights a week, at the same time on the same days. One of my personal favourite streaming days is Saturday, when I often do “Scaredy-Cat Saturday” where I play a horror game, preferably from start to finish like I did with both Outlast and it’s DLC Whistleblower.

This past Saturday was the first day I’d done that in a long time, and thanks to a suggestion from my friend Bren, I decided to change my follower and tip notification sounds to be horrible sound effects! My follower alert became a suspenseful music bite, and my tip notifications were tiered based on tip amount, with increasingly terrifying screams. The worst one I set quite high because honestly, I’d rather not see what my face looks like after that scream goes off while streaming!

After streaming The Evil Within for an hour or so, I’d received a tip from T who thought it’d be funny to try and scare me, and another larger one from a viewer. I was, and still am, incredibly grateful for the support, but something gnawed at me after the stream.

Being tipped felt…weird.

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Screenshot of the Week #7 (Blaugust #23)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day23_screenshot-of-the-week_ffxiv2This week’s Screenshot of the Week is my au ra lady’s stupid looking grin after I gave her a bit of a makeover this weekend. I hate to admit it but I have used a ridiculous number of Fantasia potions messing around with my character’s appearance, though apart from one fun little detour, I’ve stuck with miqo’te for the first half of my time in FFXIV and now an au ra since the expansion.

Some days, I miss my little catgirl and consider switching back to a miqo’te, but since I was so excited for the dragonlady and even renamed my character to make her name more lore friendly, I think I’ll wait it out for a little longer before I go and buy yet another Fantasia for the pleasure!

What have you been playing this week?

EQ2’s Prison Server Experiment (Blaugust #21)

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In case you haven’t heard already, later this week Everquest 2 will release a Prison Server known as Drunder, where players who are consistently disruptive or break the rules of the game will be sent and will never return from.

I’m not even exaggerating — players who get sent to Drunder will have their entire account sent there. No characters can exist outside of Drunder if you’re sent there, and you’ll never come back. Players can request to be sent there via a support petition, but again, they will not be able to transfer off.

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Currently Playing (Blaugust #20)

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I read Jewel’s post on being a Crazy Game Lady this morning, and it kinda struck home for me. Up until very recently, I never had a gaming “home”. While I had a few games I played consistently, when it came to things like MMOs, I would hop from one to the next. I never reached level cap in any of the MMOs I played for a long time.

I have played almost every major MMO release since my early teenage years, and stuck to none of them. I’ve dabbled in WoW, dipped my toe in Final Fantasy XI (that one stuck a little more than most!), played Aion for a while and eventually pushed to the max level in RIFT before dropping it like a hot potato because its end-game didn’t appeal to me and my time schedule.

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Life, the Universe & Everything (19/08) (Blaugust #19)

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I’ve been gone a little bit the last few days, so I thought it’d be a good time to give a Life, the Universe & Everything update. I’ve managed to keep up with Blaugust posts somewhat, but I have fallen off the wagon a few times! I’m kind of kicking myself for missing a few days.

There are two major reasons for this: first of all, I’ve been sick since last week, and because of that I’ve been finding it hard to find the energy to get on my PC. Gaming has been limited since last Wednesday, and I had to miss work to rest up. It’s getting better now, but I’m still finding myself exhausted! I also have had a pretty busy week at work which isn’t helping, because I get home from work and all I want to do is chill and turn off my brain for a little while!

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Cheating in Video Games (Blaugust #17)

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I’m going to talk about an arguably controversial topic today: cheating in video games, also known as “hacking” (even though that makes no sense!) This is probably much more prevalent in FPS games or other competitive games, but it does occur pretty much across the board and is something that causes a massive problem.

The reason I wanted to raise this is because of an experience I had yesterday. I am no stranger to “hackers” in games, but yesterday I was playing H1Z1, specifically a Battle Royale match. The name “Battle Royale” comes from the Japanese novel and movie of the same name, and involves a large number of players gathering weapons and defences and fighting til only one survives (or one team, in the case of team-based games.)

Long story short, T and I were in a two-player team and had got into the top 5. We were in the tiniest safe zone imaginable and had a rough idea of where the remaining players were, as we’d already seen and heard them moving around in front of us. We had our backs and one side to cover, one of us was covering the front and the other covering the other side. As we were about to make our advance, both of us died one after the other to an invisible assailant. The kill message claimed we died to an AR15 rifle, but no gunshots were fired. The sound of the attack was much like a melee weapon, and when we died, we glitched out standing upright. We came in #3, but also didn’t receive our rewards at the end.

I was pretty livid. It’s not really worth getting too mad about as I can’t change it, but it got me thinking. Why is cheating so rife in the gaming world? I know that people want to win, and when you give them rewards they will be more likely to do so, but what makes a person want to cheat?

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Screenshot of the Week #6 (Blaugust #16)

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This week’s Screenshot of the Week is a shot of my lovely sylvari mesmer from Guild Wars 2. With all of the changes recently, I’ve been wanting to get back into the game and give it a go, see what’s new with the expansion Heart of Thorns fast approaching.

I admit, like many others I’m finding the changes to skills pretty overwhelming and confusing, not to mention the fact that I always found my mesmer a little complicated! But unlike most games, I’m able to drop into GW2 and run around the countryside exploring, and still level up. My mesmer got from level 55 to almost level 70 with the use of a few Tomes of Knowledge and working on some zone completion with T’s warrior.

While I have no intentions of making GW2 my MMO home, it’s fun to jump into every now and then, and I find it really relaxing! The dungeons are challenging when you do the explorable versions of them, but they’re also entertaining with a group of fun people. I do miss the “holy trinity” of classes, but at least it means you don’t have to wait around for a tank or healer to get a group as well!

My Favourite Horror Game (Blaugust #15)

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In honour of Scaredy-Cat Saturday, something I started a long time ago on my stream, and the fact that I’m currently enjoying watching Julia play Kholat, I want to talk about horror games and my intense love for them.

It is no secret that I am a wuss. As I told you in my last post, I’m scared of the dark. My fiancé, T always manages to freak me out by telling me scary little stories because he thinks it’s hilarious. My imagination runs wild, and I get so utterly freaked out. And yet for some reason I absolutely love playing horror games!

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The Game That Means the Most to Me (Blaugust #13)

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As many of you know (mostly because I’ve told you before), I’ve been playing games pretty much as long as I can remember. It started with Duck HuntSuper Mario Bros and Top Gun on the NES, and has been a love affair ever since.

But there is one game that means a whole lot to me, and will always have a very special place in my heart. It’s a game that I can go back and play even now, when retro games don’t always have the same appeal as they’re often clunky or have even been remade.

That meaningful game is Neverwinter Nights. It started me on my intense love for roleplaying games, spurred on a desire to play D&D, and most importantly is how my fiancé and I became close friends and eventually formed a big part of our relationship. Unlike many gaming couples, we didn’t meet through the game, but we did play it together with a few friends back when we had just met, and it was what made us spend a lot of time together and eventually revealed to us that we actually felt a lot closer than “just friends”.

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Gaming To-Do List (Blaugust #11)

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Following in the footsteps of Jaeda at Dragons & Whimsy, Ysharros at Stylish Corpse and a few other video game bloggers, I thought it was about time I started my own gaming to-do list. I’m somewhat using the rules laid out by Izlain in his post The Gamer To-Do List. You can read his suggested guidelines over on his blog!

First of all, why would I do this? Like a few of my fellow gamers, I have a Stack of Shame (on Steam and elsewhere) the size of a skyscraper at this point and it’s ever growing, and I have a few too many unfinished games piling up on the backburner, not to mention games I own but have never even installed.

Instead of feeling excited that I have so many options, I feel, well…stressed. I know that’s absolutely ridiculous, but I get so overwhelmed with a long list of games that instead of just picking one and playing it, I stare at my list and end up doing something else instead. Or, in some cases, doing nothing.

So for me, organisation can sometimes help! When I’m on my time off, I often even write myself a list of games I want to play so that I don’t get distracted or waylaid. With that in mind, here are some things I want to achieve in my video games of choice so that I can feel accomplished and make some progress on my gaming to-do list!

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Venturing Into PvP (Blaugust #10)

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I am not a big PvP player. I have PvP’d before, and enjoyed it, in games like EVE Online and a few fantasy MMOs were PvP is restricted to a scenario or instance and kept away from the open world, but for the most part, my focus has always been on PvE.

I initially started dabbling in FFXIV PvP a week or two ago for one reason, and one reason only: to get my paws on the gorgeous armour sets and use them for glamours. I am not ashamed to admit that, glamour is a fantastic feature and one I use a great deal. My White Mage above is sporting the lovely Swansgrace Coat and Direwolf Thighboots of Healing, and I know already that I want to pick up the Swansgrace weapon and some of the Unicorn set for my Bard.

But a strange thing has happened in my grind for Wolf Marks, the currency used to pick up these items. I have started to enjoy PvP.

I know! Me! I have found myself defaulting to doing PvP to get tomestones for normal gear, and spending a lot of my time in-game running the PvP roulette (which basically means doing Seal Rock over and over) and really enjoying it. For those who don’t play or who haven’t tried Seal Rock or FFXIV PvP at all, it’s like a capture-and-hold type game mode where points called nodes will activate around the map and Grand Companies will battle it out to capture these nodes, earning points for their team up to a maximum of 800. I was really intimidated the first time I tried it but I had so much fun that I’ve been going back ever since.

Now it’s less about the gear, and more about having fun pew-pewing enemy Grand Companies, working with my team, and just generally having a good time. I was so surprised at myself! It’s even inspired me to venture into PvP in other games too, and focus on more PvP aspects of the games I play.

Do you do PvP? What’s your favourite type of PvP you’ve experienced in games, particularly MMOs?

Screenshot of the Week #5 (Blaugust #9)

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I always do a Screenshot of the Week on a Sunday (read: when I remember), and I didn’t want that to be any different with Blaugust. Even though I forgot last week. Shut up.

But this week’s Screenshot of the Week is, of course, from Elite: Dangerous, which I have loved for a while but had taken a break from. It’s a screenshot taken to show off my pretty new HUD colours since I deleted my last one by mistake, and wanted to make it a more blue-toned purple anyway, and at the precise moment I took the screenshot to share, I happened to also capture a beautiful “sunrise” moment on the planet in front of me.

This game continues to astound me with its beauty every day, and at the same time remind me that this is our universe. That our universe, our very galaxy, is gorgeous.

Thank you for that, Frontier Developments.

Getting Started in Elite Dangerous (Blaugust #6)

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In my recent post about Returning to Elite Dangerous, Ysharros of Stylish Corpse told me something that has become quite familiar to hear when talking about Elite — the first few hours are tough, and she chose to give up rather than continue trying. To be specific, she described the first few hours as, “like an aunt-knit sweater that’s both itchy and 4 sizes too small – it’s just not comfortable.” So she asked me what it was like in my first few hours and how I overcame that.

Now, I played Frontier First Encounters, also known as Elite III many years ago. Flight was completely different, and while it was sandboxy, it felt a lot more…”contained”, I suppose. I also played EVE for about four years on and off. I am familiar with steep learning curves, but even so when I first jumped into Elite: Dangerous I was very intimidated, for one reason and one reason only.

I couldn’t fly.

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Returning to Elite: Dangerous (Blaugust #4)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day4_elite-dangerous-bounty-huntingI have neglected my time in Elite: Dangerous lately, I am loathe to admit. I got a little frustrated with Voice Attack as it has issues with my weird accent, and I was taking that out on the game (shame on me, I know.)

But the game is truly beautiful, especially for a space geek such as myself with aspirations to be a space cowboy and/or pirate. Yes, I may have seen one too many sci-fi movies and TV shows or read one too many trashy space opera novels, but what can I say? Elite: Dangerous has allowed me to, at least in some way, indulge in my fantasy of exploring the skies and beyond.

Bounty hunting gets my heart racing and the blood pumping through my veins in a way that few games have had me feel in recent years. I end up whooping at the screen when I start to blow an enemy to bits, only to follow it up a few minutes later with intense screeching while I try to haul ass away from the torrent of lasers and/or projectiles flying my way.

I also find I get very…engaged. You know when your mum or dad tried to play video games back when you were young, and they would try to throw themselves bodily around corners in racing games, or jump in real life with Mario when hopping over a gap? Yeah, I do that in this game. I find myself hurling my upper body around while gripping my joystick and throttle, hoping to escape certain death (and thankfully usually managing it, until I crash into the side of a station while getting cocky at winning a race with my fiancé, ahem…)

All in all, I’m really excited to get myself back into space. I just don’t know where to start! I’ve begun my upgrading my Viper, and trying out my new guns in some combat zones and trawling for bounties, but my heart lies in exploration. Right now, I am using my Viper to build up funds to build a decent exploration ship with all the fixings, and get myself checking out some of the beauties of our universe. You can check out some of the results of my last exploration trip (some time ago, admittedly) in my video of a visit to the Acrux system.

Because after all, that is the beauty of this game. This is our galaxy. It’s all that we know about the Milky Way, plus our best estimate as to what else is there. If we know about it, it’s in the game. And I think that’s incredibly exciting.

 

What’s In a Name? (Blaugust #3)

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Since I’m making an effort to write every day, I thought it would be a good idea to share something about me I get asked often, as a way of getting to know you all a little better! I often get asked where my gaming alias, Psyche, came from and why I went with it.

First of all, I think it’s important to say that it’s Psyche; not Psych, not Psycho, not anything in between. The ‘e’ is not silent — pronounce it like “psy-kee”.

The name itself I took from the Greek legend of Eros and Psyche. I had a bit of a mythology obsession when I was much younger, and read up on ancient stories in my spare time. I was around 11 or 12 and was looking for something to identify myself online when we first got the internet, and Psyche was born. I found the story beautiful, and it just sort of stuck.

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I have gone by that name ever since; in the gaming centre I used to hang out in and eventually came to work in, I was Psyche or Psy. It was my name on various online communities, and I was always devastated (and still am, these days!) when the name was already taken. That’s how I became MissPsyche on Twitch and in various games I play, which sometimes I regret, especially after branding my blog this way.

I always feel a bit antsy when the name is taken, because it’s genuinely been my name for so long that I respond to it in real life if someone calls me by it. My mum even jokingly called me it a few times, and if she came into the gaming centre I worked in she would ask for Psyche, not Kirsty. Colleagues call me it at work, as it’s what I go by in our game’s community as well.

What inspired your name? Share it with me in the comments or feel free to make a Blaugust post of your own on the topic!

On MMO Progression (Blaugust #2)

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I’ve never been one for hardcore raiding. In fact, Final Fantasy XIV was the first MMO I ever raided in at all. I came close in a few past MMOs, but I’ve always found myself bumbling around, levelling up and exploring but never taking the game very seriously. FFXIV was different, because in that game, I have met a group of like-minded people who make content progression fun, which is honestly what I’d always been missing.

That said, I find myself hungry. I want to do more. I want to experience more, challenge myself, and push myself to complete content. I don’t expect to ever be world first or even close to it, and I don’t have the time (unfortunately) to dedicate to such an endeavour. But I do find myself watching streams and videos of people progressing through FFXIV‘s most recent raid content (Alexander Savage) and wish I was doing so too.

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The difficulty of variety game blogging (Blaugust #1)

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What’s that clicking sound going off like a machine gun in the distance? Why, it’s the sound of 69 (or possibly more, at this stage!) keyboards typing away furiously, as Blaugust is upon us! I’ve decided to take part in the Blaugust daily blogging challenge this year, as I did last year — though I know that I will struggle to stick to it — because I know it’s good for my writing muscles. I also recently read that it’s good for you to write creatively about anything that is on your mind at least once a day, so I hope this will help me!

So, to the topic of this post. I have been blogging about games in one way or another since I started playing Final Fantasy XI in 2008, thanks to my friend Tilly at TillyKay.com getting me into the habit. I’d always written a diary or journal of some form, either physical or online, so it made sense to progress naturally into sharing my gaming adventures.

Since then, I have blogged about Warhammer: Age of ReckoningAion, and briefly about RIFT. I dabbled in EVE blogging as well. However, about a year or two ago I wanted a more general nerdy blog, and the first of three blogs was born. I’ve since settled on Psyche Plays and plan to stay here, but it is not without its challenges. 

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Death & Devastation in ARK: Survival Evolved

Losing my first tamed dinosaur in ARK: Survival EvolvedI never knew how attached I could become to a virtual dinosaur until my first battle dino pet, Smiler the little girl Dilo, was slain in a valiant battle in ARK: Survival Evolved. We took our newly found pets (you might remember them as the small dinosaurs in Jurassic Park who spat at everyone who passed them by) hunting, killed a few of their own kind as well as even a few raptors, until one of them (I blame Giggles, T’s little dude) accidentally got on the wrong side of a Trike and pulled an entire horde of them.

In my efforts to defend the pair, I got myself trampled and lost all my gear, hence the nudity in the screenshot. I may not have been able to get back my gear, but I found the bodies of our little warriors, plopped them unceremoniously next to a rock, and promptly went about punching trees through great damage to myself (when you have no tools, punching trees to get materials really hurts!) to build a signpost in their honour.

Rest in peace, Smiler and Giggles. I’m sorry T harvested the meat and hide from your corpses while I was trying to build your memorial.

 

Screenshot of the Week #4 (ARK: Survival Evolved)

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This week’s screenshot of the week is an image of me riding my newly tamed raptor, Violet, in ARK: Survival Evolved. I’ve been spending a huge amount of time playing ARK and am enjoying my time taming dinosaurs, exploring, and building everything. It’s a ton of fun, and I’m actually surprisingly enjoying the fact that there are only two of us playing together, like we’re two lone survivors battling the elements! (And dinosaurs, of course!)

In case you missed it, here’s my First Impressions review of ARK: Survival Evolved! I definitely recommend it to any fans of the survival genre, particularly if you like dinosaurs.

First Impressions: ARK Survival Evolved

psycheplays_ark-survival-evolved_review-first-impressions

I have had my eye on ARK: Survival Evolved for some time now, having always had a love for dinosaurs and a bit of an addiction to survival games (DayZ and various iterations of zombie games come to mind). Thanks to my dear friend Zeberg who picked it up for me as an unexpected gift, I was able to play it! During the Steam sales I also grabbed it for T so we could try it together. Here is my ARK: Survival Evolved first impressions review!

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Screenshot of the Week #3 (FFXIV)

028This week’s Screenshot of the Week (yeah I know, I haven’t done them for a while!) is an FFXIV selfie to show off my Au Ra’s new look. In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been really enjoying playing Heavensward lately and a lot of my gaming time has gone into it. This is my Bard, currently level 60 and item level 168 or so. Got a long way to go, and Alexander is coming out this week, eep!

I will probably continue tweaking my Au Ra’s appearance for a while, and I haven’t 100% settled on Raen but I think it’s where I want to be. The white scales are really pretty, and I love the naming conventions, even if I’m not a roleplayer.

Adventures in Heavensward (FFXIV)

Adventures in Heavensward - My lovely Au Ra lady during my Bard levelling journeyHeavensward, the first expansion pack for Final Fantasy XIV, was released last week and I’ve genuinely never been this excited by an MMO expansion in my entire gaming life. There were a number of things I was looking forward to in this expansion, and it would be pointless to go through all of them, but a few of the highlights were the additional levels to attain, beautiful new zones to explore, and of course, the ability to change my race to an Au Ra. Who doesn’t want to be a beautiful dragon lady? 

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Games you shouldn’t miss in the Steam Summer Sale

Hello, yes, remember me? That “blogger” who hasn’t actually written a blog post in, *gasp*, over a month? I know, I know, memory is already fading. I’m terribly sorry!

However, that’s not why I’m here. Today, I’m here to talk to you about the Steam Summer Sale, an annual event that has all PC gamers everywhere equally excited and worried, looking at their wallets (or digital wallets) in despair. Everyone knows they’ll probably spend more money than they really should, but if it bags them an excellent deal, who can really be too disappointed?

To help you during this difficult time, here are some of my personal recommendations for games you absolutely shouldn’t miss during the Summer Sales!

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Heavensward & Au Ra Excitement (FFXIV)

My Au Ra Xaela lady, one of my two choices for Heavensward when it releases.

My second Au Ra and the one I will probably go with.

With FFXIV’s first expansion pack, Heavensward just around the corner, everyone has been sharing their benchmark scores (I got 7800 on highest DX11 settings on 1920×1080, and 11000 on the same settings but 1280×720) and, perhaps more importantly — oh, who am I kidding, absolutely more importantly! — the appearances of their Au Ra, the new dragon-based race being introduced.

These are mine, and I cannot decide between them! While I definitely prefer the appearance of the Raen, I have to say that I still love the lore of the Xaela and of course the aesthetic with the darker scales. I think I will keep tweaking until I’m happy with both then make a decision, but at this point I feel like I’ll go with the Raen.

Now my only real concern is what to call myself! I’m not sure my character’s name really suits the Au Ra, as her name is Sirantha Swift, but then again it never really suited Miqo’te either, so I’m not sure what to do with myself! But, with me taking a week off work specifically for the expansion hype, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m really excited in a way I’ve not been for an MMO in a long, long time, if ever.

Will you be switching to Au Ra too?
Let me know in the comments and share screenshots if you have any!

First Impressions: Pillars of Eternity

First Impressions: Pillars of Eternity, a new take on classic RPGs by Obsidian and Paradox.

I am ashamed to admit I had not heard of Pillars of Eternity until last week, but I bought it on the spot. Why? Because a colleague uttered the words that I’ve always wanted to hear: “Hey, did you like oldschool RPGs like Baldur’s Gate? Because it’s kinda like that.”

I did like oldschool RPGs like Baldur’s Gate. I also was obsessed with the original Neverwinter Nights and its expansion packs, and many an evening after school was spent playing it with friends. I love roleplaying games, and I enjoy a good yarn, and it seemed that this game would have all of that with a nostalgic feel that would throw me back to my long evenings wrapped up warm in front of my computer, playing through an epic tale and acting out my fantasies of being an adventurer.

My colleague, and most of the internet, was not wrong. Pillars of Eternity is so far very reminiscent of oldschool RPGs, in several ways. Firstly, its character creation is in-depth and detailed. Your choices here will greatly impact your gameplay. The aesthetic is perfectly suited to the gameplay, and the graphics are pretty for an isometric game, which I wasn’t expecting. The game feels dark, which is great for a dark fantasy RPG. Combat is difficult, especially if you’re playing on more difficult settings or not familiar with turn-based roleplaying games (or are out of practice, like me!)

The storytelling is surprisingly good. I often find myself skipping conversations in other games, but in Pillars of Eternity I’ve been reading everything and listening to the often fully-voiced scenes. There’s also one feature I absolutely love, and that’s the story scenes that act almost as cutscenes, where your screen changes to a page from a book. You see text on one side, which is read out by a narrator that acts almost like a DM (Dungeon Master, for those who never played D&D), and on the other side is a sketched out scene, which changes as you continue throughout the “cutscene” or story. I love it, it was incredibly engaging, which is kind of surprising when most games these days require high-action cutscenes to keep people’s attention. I found myself completely grabbed by these scenes, eager to find out what happened to my companion who had just stumbled out of the woods before me, or what that terrifying banshee-like face on the right of the page meant.

One of the cons I found is that I’m not a huge fan of the way abilities are used, as I feel like there’s a lot of clicking involved. This is mostly due to lack of shortcuts for abilities, which I’ve heard is possible to assign but I’ve yet to figure out how. Basically, right now you’ll have to click on the ability you want to use or spell you want to cast, then click on the target. When you’re using a lot of abilities or spells per fight, especially with multiple party members, that can get a bit tedious, but the combat is still fun and active all the same. You also get used to it very quickly!

The only real gripe I have, though, is that playing on a two monitor PC makes edge-scrolling difficult. There is an option in the settings to “Cage Cursor” which, in theory, prevents your cursor from moving onto the other monitor, however when you get into a cutscene it stops functioning properly until you turn it off and on again. However, all that said, I’ve learned to play with middle mouse for scroll and found that it’s actually much easier and smoother than playing with edge-scrolling even when it’s fully functional, so I suppose it’s not all bad!

I strongly recommend this game to anyone who has a love for oldschool RPGs and isn’t afraid of a little bit of difficulty, where your combat strategy is more important and valuable than just bashing things with a big sword. I can almost 100% guarantee you’ll fall in love with it immediately.

First Impressions: Pillars of Eternity is an RPG that old-school players will love.

The Time for T9 Has Come! (FFXIV)

FFXIV: It's time for Cake to kill Nael Deus Darnus in T9!

My Free Company and I have been spending the last few weeks in the Holocharts working on downing The Second Coil of Bahamut Turn 4, also known as Turn 9 or T9. For those of you who either don’t play or aren’t familiar with the raiding system of FFXIV, Coil is the end-game 8-man raid of the game, beginning with the five turns from the Binding Coil of Bahamut, followed by the four turns of the Second Coil of Bahamut, and finally the Final Coil of Bahamut which we are eagerly anticipating for the near future! The last turn of each Coil is notoriously a skill-gate of sorts, as they often have difficult mechanics to overcome. T9 is definitely no exception and this week is our seventh week working on it.

I have been a little quiet lately, and this is part of the reason why. I’ve been watching and reading guides, practising in between raid nights, and generally being quite addicted to FFXIV all over again. I had never stopped playing, but I was feeling a little demotivated and all this work and excitement has got me hyped up!

I’ve also felt a renewed love for my FC and how our group works together. I tried out a few party-finder groups at the weekend for additional practice (and I certainly wouldn’t have said no to a clear if it had happened!) and realised that sometimes, the group you’re comfortable with really is the best way to go. I can’t wait to feel like we’ve made a major achievement on our journey together, and start looking into finishing of the Coil storylines in time for the upcoming expansion!

Screenshot of the Week #2

Screenshot of the Week: Thumbs up in Saints Row IV!

This week’s Screenshot of the Week is from the beginning of Saints Row IV, which I started this weekend co-op with T. I’ve had a soft spot for Saints Row since trying the third game and realising it had everything I loved about Grand Theft Auto games, but with a healthy dose of surrealism, and it didn’t take itself too seriously. Or, in most cases, seriously at all.

In the fourth game, which has been out for rather a long while (shame on me), you become the President of the United States, and have to fight off an alien attack. The screenshot above is from the opening few moments, and I don’t even want to spoil what happens there because it’s really worth playing through to find out.

To Parse or Not to Parse?

In MMOs, should you use a DPS parser?

Anyone who has ever played an MMO semi-seriously will have heard of parsing in some shape or form. Some games and communities encourage it, such as World of Warcraft where nearly everyone will use an add-on to monitor the damage per second (DPS) of their party during a particular fight; some will frown upon or even potentially threaten to ban for the use of them, for example Final Fantasy XIV where their use is strongly discouraged.

One question that often comes up, particularly in the latter group, is should people parse the damage of others? Technically speaking, it’s often not difficult to find an application or add-on that will take the contents of the combat log, translate it into a more readable list of numbers assigned to each person representing just how much damage they’re doing, on average, throughout the fight. With this in mind, most of those applications or add-ons will show everyone’s DPS, not just the player using it. Which raises the question as to whether or not it’s “morally” (using the word loosely) right to do.

Personally, I’ve used a DPS parser in many games I’ve played, be it through add-ons in WoW and Rift, or now in Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve always used it as a way to monitor my own performance, and I’ve found that it’s been a hugely positive influence on my raiding gameplay in FFXIV. Firstly, it’s helped me identify weak points in my rotation, as I noticed that I was doing slightly less DPS than the recorded “averages” I’d found online for my class. After reading and experimenting a lot, I’ve now pushed my DPS significantly higher, and know that I’d be able to do even better with more practice. It’s also helped to reassure me when I noticed that I was dropping down in the enmity list (think agro) — I was using an ability to reduce my enmity, but only at the beginning of the fight and still seemed to be consistently low. I was worried my DPS was lacking, so up popped the DPS parser and I saw that I was in fact pushing DPS that I was pretty proud of, and was fighting for top spot with one of our other DPS in the party. And finally, it’s helping me to understand the fights and how to optimise my singing (as a career Bard), as well as movement and downtime.

However, I often see people complaining about elitism in MMOs, and I worry that parsing is a tool that might contribute. Raiding guilds are one thing, where you’re expected to perform to your very best at all times without exception, and I can see parsers being used to identify who can make the cut. But I’d be uncomfortable if I knew that someone was parsing me without at least letting me know. Unless I’m putting myself in a situation where it’s warranted, it just feels like a pre-judgement on my performance which I might already be working on myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people shouldn’t suggest improvements if they see them, but I worry that someone judges just a number without knowing the context behind it.

Of course, there are good sides to parsing beyond my own personal experiences. Some people will use them as a way to educate and help improve the performance of those in their raid groups, which is great! Taking the numbers and translating them into something tangible is where I think parsers will really start to shine. If we take the numbers at face value, that’s when they start to become more dangerous.

What do you think? Are parsers good or bad?
Let me know in the comments below!

Screenshot of the Week #1

Screenshot of the Week: My friend Iolet Wayland's character in FFXIV.

From now on, each Sunday I will be posting a Screenshot of the Week, much like my previous Screenshot Sunday posts. The difference will be that I will only be highlighting one screenshot, along with a description of the image!

This week’s SotW is of my friend Lina’s character in Final Fantasy XIV, a Scholar by the name of Iolet Wayland on the Odin server. I’m highlighting this screenshot because I’ve been working on screenshot editing and signatures for my Free Company, and was pretty happy with the result here! Iolet is one of our main healers in Cake, our Free Company, and her character is one of my fellow miqo’te!

I’m still working on my technique for screenshot editing and will be continuing to refine the process. Ultimately though I’m really happy with the colours in this one, and hope I can transfer that into other game screenshots.

Goodbye, Avatar! (FFXIV)

Goodbye, Avatar! T8 has been downed by Cake!

Thursday night was a night of progression for myself and my Free Company in Final Fantasy XIV. The last few weeks we’ve primarily been working on the Primals and trying to clear 2.5 dungeons (as well as World of Darkness together), and any content that people were missing. We’re far from a hardcore raiding group, but we enjoy progressing together, and in the last few weeks we’ve cleared something every raid night. Thursday night was no different!

We started off by trying Ifrit EX, after only clearing Titan EX last week. I was genuinely surprised that Ifrit was pretty simple, and we cleared it second try! First try we just had a few sloppy mistakes and had to start over, but afterwards it was smooth sailing. Sadly no pony drop, but now that we’ve cleared all of the Extreme modes I’m hoping we can get on to farming them sometime.

After the Ifrit EX clear, we jumped straight into T8. It was pretty tough, mostly because most of us hadn’t seen the fight first-hand, and I sure didn’t contribute with my lag and a few disconnects strategically placed throughout the fight. In fact, I disconnected just as we were about to get the kill! The group stopped DPSing til I could get back in only to wipe at 1%, I felt so bad! We took the Avatar down shortly after that though, so not too much time was lost! I’m proud of us, because we’re completing the content while having fun. Sure, we’re quite far behind as we’re only starting work on T9 now (which is really crazy, by the way!) and still have all of the Final Coil of Bahamut to go, but we’ve done a great job of clearing content and progressing together, without treading on anyone’s toes.

I even managed to score the kill for Battle in the Big Keep, unlocking Trial DR for the first time. I’ve been so bad at keeping up with that! It was a really fun fight.

Onwards to further content and progression! No more will Cake be known as “All the fun, none of the content”.

Alien: Isolation Isn’t For Me (Game Review)

Alien: Isolation Review - The classic sci-fi enemy, the Xenomorph.

Alien: Isolation Review - Why the game simply isn't for me.

This week, Alien: Isolation has been nominated for a lot of BAFTA awards; in fact, that’s an understatement, as apparently the tribute to Ridley Scott’s franchise has picked up the highest number of nominations at this year’s awards ceremony. And I find myself sitting here wondering: WHY?

As a disclaimer, I’m generally not a huge fan of games that rely heavily on stealth, and I’m not going to say it’s a bad game, because evidently a lot of people enjoy it and it has a lot going for it for it to have received so many nominations for awards. However, it’s clear that nominations are not based on quality of game design, as a large number of players have a game-breaking bug not two minutes into the game, completely preventing progression without repeatedly restarting and crossing your fingers and toes in the hopes that maybe this time the door will be unlocked. I encountered this bug while streaming the game and it took 45 minutes of trying various “fixes” posted on the forum before a few game restarts finally seemed to resolve the problem and allow me to progress.

The fact that this has not been fixed, or at least hadn’t when I played a month or so after release, is absolutely astounding. Perhaps it has been fixed now, but the game has left a bad taste in my mouth. Because of my horrid first experience with the game, I just can’t seem to see it being an award winner.

I did persist after finally getting past what my friends have deemed as “Door-Gate 2014”, and honestly my opinion on the game didn’t improve. I feel like the gameplay is pretty lazy, as it seems so far that my entire purpose is to simply avoid vents with acid dripping from them, and walk relatively swiftly in the opposite direction of androids. Don’t get me wrong, I got a few decent scares out of being grabbed unexpectedly, but it was always a case of me not seeing the vent or not knowing an android was coming round the corner, and I corrected it next time I attempted the same corridor.

Alien: Isolation Review - Artificially inflated difficulty grinds my gears.

The one thing that really grinds my gears, however, is the lack of saves. I’ve had a big debate with others who enjoyed the game, who feel that infrequent saves are a good thing and should be preserved particularly in a survival horror setting. To some extent, I agree: the feeling that if you screw this up that’s it is incredibly powerful. However, I don’t feel that punishing your players is ever a good idea, regardless of genre. And frankly, the infrequent save points felt incredibly punishing. If I complete a significant milestone that was difficult for me to accomplish, then enter an elevator and return to my start point to tackle the next task, I expect there to be a save, either autosave/checkpoint style, or a save point for me to use when I’m about to enter or exit the elevator. Several times I accomplished multiple milestones, only to make a silly mistake and have to go back to the beginning where my last save was, which was unfortunately several milestones back because there had been no opportunity to save between.

One might say that it’s my fault for making a silly mistake, and sure, I’ll grant you that. But what if it weren’t? What if I encountered yet another crippling game bug like the door that never unlocked at the beginning of the game and required me to restart? What if my game crashed? Should I be punished for those too despite them not being my fault? To me, as a gamer and not a game designer, it just seems like good practice to include regular save points, at the very least after each major milestone is completed.

I’m not saying that games shouldn’t be difficult, but this practice of withholding checkpoints from players and making them replay long portions of the game if they screw up feels like a lazy way to artificially inflate difficulty, rather than making the game truly difficult and terrifying in itself. There were parts that were difficult, but most of the time I found them frustrating rather than challenging, as I mostly had to hide behind objects or in rooms repeatedly to wait for patrols to pass.

Again, I want to reinforce that I don’t think Alien: Isolation is a bad game. It has been nominated for awards in gameplay, music and design categories, and I know plenty of people who have played it through and enjoyed it immensely. However, that is not to say that it is above criticism, and I feel like there are a lot of areas the game could be significantly improved. I can even see how enjoyable it might be to try and play cat and mouse with perhaps the scariest sci-fi creature of all time. Sadly, from my poor first impressions of the game due to a game-breaking bug plus having to repeat the same 20 – 30 minute section of the game due to making a mistake or getting lost and not having a save to keep me going, one thing has become quite clear: Alien: Isolation just isn’t for me.

First Impressions: Darkest Dungeon

First Impressions: Darkest Dungeon - A gothic roguelike RPG which is strangely punishing & still fun.

First Impressions: Darkest Dungeon - How will your party members die?

When I heard about Darkest Dungeon, I was dubious. I’ve tried plenty of roguelikes and self-proclaimed “hard games” in the last year or so that have either not lived up to their claims, or have been decidedly un-fun. But people kept talking about this gothic, dark RPG and it got me all interested, so I read some reviews on Steam and couldn’t help but cackle at some of the funny ones. After reading about someone’s paladin becoming a kleptomaniac and stealing from the party, I was sold.

Darkest Dungeon is all about failure, death, and losing everything you’ve worked hard on. You recruit a squad of heroes whom you send out to fight for you, and inevitably they die. A lot. And you get to watch as that hero you actually kinda liked just keels over after somehow surviving on zero hitpoints for the last three battles. On top of that, there’s the “Stress” mechanic which fills up as bad things happen to your heroes and party. When it reaches full, your hero will gain an “Affliction”. These will have negative effects on that adventurer, such as causing them to retreat further back through the party, skip their turn, or even harm themselves.

For a start, the gameplay is fun! I was surprised that I didn’t find losing party members frustrating. I was a little sad when my Crusader died as he was really awesome and the real hard hitter of the group, but I’m hoping another one comes up in the village to be recruited in the future. Hopefully soon, too. The combat is quite slow but that works for the game style, and each adventurer you recruit will have the potential for different abilities, which can make your party feel like a different make-up every time.

First Impressions: Darkest Dungeon - The dark art style suits the gameplay.

The art style is gorgeous, and fits perfectly with the dark, gothic theme. It’s not a particularly happy game, and that works immensely well with the rough 2d character and environment artwork. Atmospherically, it’s excellent.

Like I said, combat is slow, and the game is not at all forgiving. It is quite possible that you’ll fail quests and lose an entire party of adventurers you’ve been working with for a while, including rare items such as an accuracy boosting ring I’d put on my highwayman shortly before he got critted in the face one room over. If you make the mistake of getting attached to any one hero in your party, prepare yourself for the worst or be sorely disappointed (though we all know you’ll likely be disappointed even if you steel yourself against the pain of loss).

All in all, I would totally recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good dungeon-crawler. Darkest Dungeon is in Early Access on Steam which I generally dislike, but it’s in a great state for play, and considering how much fun it is I would absolutely encourage you to pick it up if it sounds like your kind of thing.

First Impressions: Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios.

Life, the Universe & Everything (10/02)

First of all, it’s my birthday today! Since I’m off work this week, I thought what better time to post a general update about everything that’s going on in my life, gaming and all.

As you probably know, I’m playing Guild Wars 2 a lot and am working on both levelling my Mesmer and trying to unlock more Ascalonian weapon skins, since I got the longbow for my Ranger. I’ll be trying to get the greatsword for my Mesmer through grinding the PVP reward track and maybe a few explorable dungeon runs, which we started this past weekend. It’s been fun, since we’ve been playing with one of my FC mates from Final Fantasy XIV and she’s a lot of fun to play games with!

Life, the Universe & Everything: My sylvari mesmer in Guild Wars 2.

Speaking of FFXIV though, I’ve finally started working on my Artemis Animus! I was a bit behind the curve when it came to upgrading it to an Atma, and I picked up the first of nine books a few weeks ago. I never got round to finishing it, and I was surprised when I finished it today and felt a genuine sense of accomplishment that I think I’ve been missing lately! So I’ll be trying to upgrade it now, perhaps quite slowly but still, it’s something. I have no idea how to upgrade it to a Novus yet, as I never really paid much attention to it.

I know a few of you have noticed that I haven’t been streaming lately, and for that I’m sorry. I have been feeling a little nervous about it for the last few weeks for some reason, and it’s just put me off going live every time I’m about to. That mixed with the issues I had accessing Twitch last weekend just made it pretty difficult. I will be getting back into it as soon as I can, because I really miss you guys! But I just needed to get myself into the right frame of mind. In between regular streams, I will keep my Forge.gg stream up for whenever I’m playing a compatible game. It’ll tweet automatically when I go live, or if you have an account you can follow me there and see when I’m live on your sidebar. Check out Laughter’s post about Forge.gg for more information and invites to the site.

Life, the Universe & Everything: Forge.gg is a new streaming service for quick captures.

Apart from all of that, everything’s been fine! I’ve been enjoying the beginning of my week off and am thinking of starting a backlog of games I need to finish since I have some time to do that, then maybe dedicating a day every week to my backlog (thanks to Devisaidso on Twitter for the inspiration!).

Hope you’ve all had a great start to 2015!

Adventures in Tyria…Again (Guild Wars 2)

Guild Wars 2: Levelling a Thief following the Heart of Thorns announcement.

Guild Wars 2: Just a couple of norn badasses, no big deal.

Last weekend during PAX, Arenanet announced the first Guild Wars 2 expansion pack, Heart of Thorns. I picked up Guild Wars 2 when it was first released and truly loved the game, and even my MMO-hating fiancé played it with me! Something about GW2 just felt right: more of an RPG than an MMO, with a rich, living story and plenty of events and beautiful things to explore. There was, of course, PvP and dungeons just like most MMORPGs but those weren’t what I enjoyed most about the game. Ultimately, I stopped because I didn’t enjoy the end-game at the time, but with the announcement I’ve been dabbling again.

It’s an interesting change of pace from what I’ve been playing lately, and I’m enjoying it a lot! A few friends have returned, giving me plenty of people to talk to in-game and even play with from time to time. Right now, I’ve decided that since I don’t really understand or remember a lot of things from the game (especially at max level!) I’m going to be levelling a Guardian with a few friends, and a Thief with my fiancé, which we’re recording for fun. If you’re interested, the first episode is already live on my YouTube gaming channel. In between that, we’ve been playing around with our old characters as well so as not to neglect them, however!

The release date for Heart of Thorns hasn’t been confirmed, but I’m really excited! I never truly shut the door on GW2 as it was a fun game and one I’d always intended to return to from time to time, so I’m thankful for the expansion announcement giving me the kick up the backside I needed to motivate me.

Will you be playing again?
Let me know in the comments, and be sure to leave your tag!

Our Eternal Bond (FFXIV)

FFXIV: My Ceremony of Eternal Bonding with my guild leader was a lot of fun!
Yes, that is someone dressed up as a ghost…

FFXIV: All of our friends were there! Even though one of them could only be there in spirit as she was busy!

On Tuesday 13th January 2015, we celebrated our bond by getting married in a beautiful ceremony, the ceremony blessed by a slightly eccentric individual, in front of many of our friends. And by “we”, I mean my guild leader Arvenia Wolvesbane and I, by “getting married” I mean we had our Ceremony of Eternal Bonding, and by “slightly eccentric individual” I mean a Moogle. The part about our friends was accurate, however!

Square Enix recently introduced the ability for players to get married in Final Fantasy XIV, either through the free Standard Plan, or by purchasing the Gold or Platinum plans in the online store. Whenever the feature was first announced, I was impressed to find out that Square Enix had allowed same sex marriage, and so I proposed to my guild leader, Arvenia, whose character is a tall blue-haired lady Roegadyn.

FFXIV: We even threw a party afterwards at our FC house.

We invested in the Platinum plan for the extra options, including additional colours and flower options and different decorations in the ceremony. Also, the paid options give all guests an exclusive pet: the Demon Box! We thought this would be fun so we went for one of the paid packs and invited our Free Company to join us.

It all starts with a questline that you do with your partner, and after travelling Eorzea to pray at various locations with your bride or husband-to-be, you will go to the venue together to select the options you want to go with, including the priest for your wedding (the Moogle was definitely not a disappointment!), the colours for the carpet and flowers, the music for the procession and the all-important after party, how you enter and exit the ceremony, and of course who gets to carry the bouquet! After both of you have agreed and saved your settings, you can also reserve a date and time, which has to be done in advance.

FFXIV: A cuddle following the ceremony.

Slots open for two weeks, new slots opening every Friday at 9:00am GMT for the following two weeks. We noticed that even after a few weeks had passed, it was still difficult to get a good slot. I was a few hours late to reserve our date and time, and most of the timeslots were already gone, but we managed to snag a decent one that just meant I had to rush home from work! Some of my friends were not so lucky even though they also tried to reserve their dates on the same day as us.

All in all, our ceremony was lovely! I was surprised to find that three of the guys from our FC showed up in grooms garb, which was really sweet, and everyone dressed for the occasion (including one of our friends who showed up in the All Saints’ Wake ghost costume!) and we even received pets and gil gifts! It was really cute. The ceremony is super cheesy but frankly I was impressed that they made such an experience out of the in-game marriage system!

FFXIV: A candid shot from just before the ceremony.

So thank you Square Enix, not only for letting me marry another woman, but also for making the experience memorable for all of us. We all had a lot of fun, and went back to our FC house for a rather debaucherous party afterwards!

Elite Jumps Into Modern Gaming (Elite: Dangerous Review)

Elite: Dangerous Review - Exploration can be incredibly rewarding when you find beautiful systems like Acrux.

Elite: Dangerous makes me feel incredibly small. With a realistic rendition of our very own galaxy, 400 billion stars each potentially with a system full of planets to see and scan, it would take over 12,000 years for one person to visit every single system if they only stayed in each for literally one second. Feeling small is an understatement; I feel positively tiny.

I have never encountered a game in my years of gaming that has made me feel like this before. I played Frontier: First Encounters — also known as Elite III — about 10 years ago, but even then I only darted between a few familiar star systems to deliver medicine and make money off other people’s plight. I didn’t really think about how big that game was; I just shot pirates and delivered my cargo, hoping I didn’t pop on the way. Most of the games I’ve played and truly enjoyed have felt pretty big, but I’ve felt like a massive part of them, and I’ve known I will explore every inch of the game within time. I will finish every achievement, complete every quest, tie off the storyline in a neat little bow and be done with it. Even the biggest games I’ve played, even the most open, have had some sort of finality after a while.

Elite: Dangerous Review - I know I will never see it all, so I want to spend my time wisely.

Not this one. I am very conscious of the fact that I will never explore every little nook and cranny of the Milky Way. I am reminded often that I have to decide where to spend my time, because I can’t see it all. And that’s surprisingly nice, for a change. There is so much for me to do that, instead of being overwhelmed or confused, I find myself cramming all of my time into doing the things I enjoy the most, and seeing the things I wish I was able to see in real life. Just the other day, I posted a video of the Acrux system, a stunningly beautiful system full of stars that glittered with a myriad colours as I scanned each and every one. That is something I will never achieve in my lifetime, but Elite: Dangerous has made that possible for me.

Elite: Dangerous Review - I still feel small, but like my decisions and actions matter.

And yet, where space makes me feel pleasantly insignificant, like no matter what I do it ultimately doesn’t matter (and that’s reassuring!), I feel like everything I do in E:D has an impact. I can help overthrow galactic governments. I can hunt down interstellar terrorists and pirates, and make people’s lives that little bit easier. I can actually see the changes I am causing, even if they’re small, on the balance of power in any given star system or region of space. While the game is a sandbox, there are still some hefty decisions commanders will need to take on their journey through the ‘verse. Will you side with the extravagant and powerful Empire, who wiped out an entire species in order to set up their new home planet? Or will you prefer to stick with the corporate and arguably corrupt Federation? Alternatively, will you fight alongside me with the Alliance?

Or if you wish to steer clear of politics and blowing people up, you can always explore the vastness of our galaxy, alone or with friends, and do some interstellar sightseeing. When all is said and done, how will you become Elite?

You can buy Elite: Dangerous now for £39.99 / €49.99 / $59.99.

A New Year Full of New Things

A New Year Full of New things | Christmas 2014 was lovely but it's time to move on!

I have been a very absent little blogger ever since I started my “short” hiatus in October, and I thought what better time to return to the land of blogging than on the first day of the new year? For those of you who don’t know me particularly well, Christmas is my jam. I get excited in the lead-up to the holiday, I love buying gifts for people and adding a personal touch where I can, and I especially love the excitement on Christmas morning (not to mention all the delicious food!). Christmas did pass by a little too quickly and was over before I was truly ready, but I’m going to tackle the beginning of 2015 with as much gusto as I can manage.

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions in the traditional sense; you know what I mean — lose weight, quit smoking or drinking, stop biting nails etc. But that’s only because I know that I’m pretty bad at keeping to them! But this year I will set some goals for myself that I really aim to achieve, and I’ve kept them in the area of nerdiness!

A New Year Full of New Things | Hello 2015

Hello 2015, I am ready for you! This year, I want to accomplish more in my nerdy life, just as much as in my non-nerdy life. Here are a few of the things I intend on doing.

01. Complete more games off my list!

I have a terrible habit of not completing games, as I get sucked into other games before the end, or end up sinking so much time into my multiplayer games that I neglect the singleplayer games I still have yet to finish. So this is a list of a few of the games I’d like to at least attempt to complete:

The Witcher Series, Dishonored, Batman: Arkham Asylum & Arkham City, Borderlands 2, The Walking Dead Season 1 & 2, Mass Effect Trilogy (second & third playthroughs), Dragon Age: Inquisition (and perhaps DA2 as well), Divinity: Original Sin.

02. Read at least 25 fiction books.

I frequently fail these as, despite being a huge lover of books, I don’t make enough time for them these days. Work takes up so much of my day that when I get home I just collapse into my chair and play games for an hour or two before bed. I want to make that change, so I will aim for 25 books this year. I’m also an incredibly slow reader so 25 might actually be a bigger challenge than I realise!

03. Learn more things.

If Christmas’ session of Trivial Pursuit taught me anything, it’s that I need to learn more about a wider variety of topics! Granted, it was a 1980s version of the game from South Africa so take from that what you will! Even if I only learn more about my area of work and things that feed into that, I will feel like I’ve made an accomplishment.

04. Have at least one writing session per week, aiming for short daily sessions.

If I ever want to make something of my writing, I need to commit more time to it. To do this, I will either write once per week for a solid hour or two, with the intention of pulling that up to shorter sessions every day. Perhaps every morning before work?

05. Stream at least three times per week.

I’ve been kicking up my streaming schedule lately, and I want to keep that going. I will aim to stream at least three times a week, including my usual Saturday night horror gaming. While I primarily stream to hang out with people I’ve met through gaming and streaming, I’d love to make something of it. I don’t mean to earn money from it, I just want to feel like I’ve made an accomplishment with it, like I did when I took part in the Elite: Dangerous launch event and had over 130 people hanging out there! That felt amazing, and I’d love to do it more, even if it scared the hell out of me!

I also have some game specific goals, such as jobs to level in FFXIV and reaching Elite in Elite: Dangerous, but those are for another day and another post! Do you have any nerdy goals for 2015?

Short Hiatus (October 2014)

Short Hiatus: October 2014
Image source: WeHeartIt

I know I’ve been around very little lately, and I want to apologise for that! I have been getting back into my streaming schedule and, in turn, blogging has taken a backseat which it shouldn’t be. To anyone who still reads this, I’m very sorry, but I am taking a brief hiatus from all (read: most) things internet. This means online games (except for FC events in FFXIV), streaming, blogging and to a smaller extent social media. So I will only be in FFXIV for FC events (my FC knows this), there will be limited blogging updates and no streams, and while I’ll still be around on social media, I will be there a little less. There are a few reasons for this:

» I have so many singleplayer games I want to work on and enjoy. A lot of online games have been frustrating me lately and I want to enjoy myself, so I will be working on Dragon Age: Origins then the DLC and Dragon Age II in advance of the third game coming out.

» I need a little break from social media with all of the negativity going around in the wider gaming community, to prevent myself getting involved! And also for my own sanity.

» I will be visiting my family for a few days because I haven’t seen them in months (since before I did all that travelling a little while ago!) and I really miss them, so I need a little bit of time just to spend with them.

However, starting the week of Halloween on Monday 27th October I will be back and ready to play all the scary games! I will try to do some small scary streams (specific days will be announced on my Twitter in advance) during the week but the real event will be on Halloween itself, Friday 31st October, where I’m thinking of maybe doing either a 12-hour stream or at the very least a late-nighter starting at around 8:00PM Irish time. I will play spooky games or games with a Halloweeny theme, and will start either Alien: Isolation or The Evil Within, depending on which I’ve got my hands on!

The rest of that week, I am off work and will be able to dedicate more time to blogging and streaming, so expect to see the launch of a Minecraft server for friends and regulars, as well as some more spooky and funtimes streams during the week. I may even try to do one in costume! If I can think of a costume…

So I apologise for the brief hiatus, but I really do need a little break. I promise to be back the week leading up to Halloween though, my favourite holiday of the whole year! I hope you’ll be able to celebrate with me.

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