Mod Review: A Realistic Hope (Skyrim)

Skyrim: A Realistic Hope Mod Review

Skyrim: A Realistic Hope Mod Review

Do you want your Skyrim to look like this? I know that for the longest time, I’ve always admired beautiful, rich coloured Skyrim screenshots, and wondered why they had depth of field and I didn’t. As much as I absolutely adore the game, I did kind of miss the vibrant environments of previous Elder Scrolls games (I was a Shivering Isles fangirl…) and found that, while the bleak landscapes of Skyrim were beautiful, the fact that even forests and interior areas looked a little grey kind of bothered me.

Enter stage left: A Realistic Hope. ARH is a “photorealistic ENB” mod, which deepens colour, adds depth of field, and modifies some textures to be more photorealistic. The environments feel more alive, if a little bit oversaturated in colour, and allow you to get some seriously beautiful screenshots, let alone feel more immersed.

Skyrim: A Realistic Hope Mod Review

Ultimately, it is very beautiful. I love that whatever I’m looking at takes the focus, and honestly I didn’t notice any performance drop when in-game, even though I chose to download the regular mod rather than the “performance” version. With some .ini file tweaks, the game focuses regardless of whether you’re in first or third person, and when you look at something close to you, you’ll notice the background fades out a little.

The only real downsides for me were very minor. The regular mod does increase load times significantly; I went from loading a zone in 10 seconds or less to 30+, but this isn’t a huge wait for such a visual improvement. The only other issue I encountered was that it seems the shader that gets used uses a stencil buffer type effect which updates slower than your rendered frames. I’m not sure if that’s what it is or how it works, but if you stand in front of a particularly strong light source (in my case, it was a large fire) it seems that the “stencil buffer” lags behind a bit, so you see a bit of a residual outline. But it’s barely noticeable!

Skyrim: A Realistic Hope Mod Review

Despite the really vibrant colours, the environment doesn’t entirely lose its bleakness. Outside towns, things can still get pretty grey, so if you’re worried about losing the cold atmosphere of the game, don’t be too concerned. The vegetation is still bright, but the evenings feel pretty crisp and somewhat unwelcoming.

How to install

Make sure to download the mod manually (don’t use the mod manager, even if it gives you the option on the files page!) on the Realistic Hope ENB mod page on Skyrim Nexus. The installation steps are explained pretty well on the page, but in case you’re a little bit confused, there’s also similar directions below.

Before installing, you should also get WATER – Water and Terrain Enhancement Redux and install it. I recommend doing this using the Nexus Mod Manager. Once you’ve installed it, activate the mod in the mod manager and follow the instructions. It will ask you to choose your preferences such as water colour, whether you want additional features like boats and vegetation etc. Up to you!

001. Download the file and extract the .ZIP. You can use WinRAR or any other extraction software you have.

002. You can extract the file directly into your Skyrim folder, but if you’re concerned about overwriting files, compare the filenames in the downloaded directory with those in your Skyrim folder. If there are any that might be overwritten, rename them. I usually add, “.OLD” at the end of these files so I can recognise them if I need to restore them. You shouldn’t have to overwrite anything, however.

003. Navigate to My Documents > My Games > Skyrim and open up “SkyrimPrefs.ini” in Notepad.

004. Search for “bTreesReceiveShadows”, “bDrawLandShadows” and “bFloatPointRenderTarget”, and change the value from ‘0’ to ‘1’. If it’s already set to ‘1’, ignore this step.

005. Add the following text at the bottom of the file to play or look at your character in third person (good for screenshots):

[Camera]
fOverShoulderAddY=0.0000
fOverShoulderPosZ=-10.0000
fOverShoulderPosX=0.0000
fOverShoulderCombatAddY=0.0000
fOverShoulderCombatPosZ=-10.0000
fOverShoulderCombatPosX=0.0000

006. Launch the game!

If you have an older system, you may want to try the performance version of the mod, which is listed in the downloads section. I haven’t tested this, but with my system (AMD Phenom II X4 955 at 3.2Ghz, nVidia Geforce GTX 560 1GB, and a measly 4GB RAM) I can run the regular version of the mod with a bunch of other mods, with no drop in FPS.

Happy Adventuring!

First Impressions: DayZ Standalone

First Impressions: DayZ Standalone - Running around, looking for wells, constantly thirsty.

I’ve been playing DayZ since shortly after the mod was first released, due to colleagues talking incessantly about their shenanigans and an awesome story I read online. I was hooked, despite the bugs. I even revelled in how the community moved from survival-focused to banditry-focused. Mostly because I became a bandit myself at that point. I killed indiscriminately.

So when my colleague came into work a few weeks ago and simply said, “Did you buy it?” I did. I bought it on the spot, sight unseen. I bought it for T. I encouraged our friend Andy to buy it. And we played it. So what did we think?

Well, it’s certainly buggy. Occasionally falling through walls and/or floors can cause some sticky situations. Zombies that chase you until you break line of sight…which never happens, because they can see through walls and, as if that wasn’t enough, walk through them. The hunger and thirst meters are weird at best, and annoying at worst, as you seem to start thirsty and it doesn’t get much better. Some of the guns bug out a little when you try to look through a scope you’ve equipped. Ladders can, occasionally, instantly kill you.

But, I do actually really enjoy it. It brings back the feeling of needing to survive, instead of it being just about shooting every guy you see. I’ve stopped feeling the instant urge to shoot people, and started waving at them instead. Last night, a guy approached me and shouted at me over mic, “Get down on your knees!” Seeing as I can’t take instructions in real life without being a stubborn ass, that didn’t go down so well, and I hit him in the face with the baseball bat I wasn’t planning on using. There’s a more tangible depth to the game that I hadn’t noticed in mod for a long time.

First Impressions: DayZ Standalone - Sporting a rather unfriendly looking Dallas (from Payday) mask.

It also brings a lot of great new features, like a quickbar for ease of weapon switching or using items, customisability of your character through the use of clothing and aesthetic items like masks, modular weapons, more buildings that you can enter and explore for loot, and clothing inventory on top of backpacks. Some features are yet to be implemented, such as vehicles, but DayZ standalone is well on its way to becoming an enjoyable game in its own right.

Two things I don’t like, aside from the bugs I mentioned, are the lack of combat logging prevention, and the public hive only approach taken to servers. The former is a huge problem; that guy I hit with a baseball bat after he threatened me with a gun? Yeah, he logged out as soon as I hit him, meaning I’m left feeling frustrated because he got away, even though he initiated the fight. This happens constantly. The latter, however, is merely an annoyance for two reasons – players will server hop to loot popular military spots to get guns and mods for their weapons, and for me, it’s a problem because I often play with friends but would like the option of running off on my own without abandoning them when they’re not around to play.

All in all, the game is in Alpha, so it will improve. If you’re looking for a large-scale multiplayer zombie survival game, it’s definitely fun, as long as you’re prepared for the fact that other players can and will shoot you. Or attack you with a fire extinguisher.

Thinking back over 2013

I’ve seen a lot of delightful 2013 recaps, so I thought it was worth reviewing my own year, and seeing what I could come up with. Props to my friend Tilly at LoveTilly.com for her lovely 2013 review in photos! Sadly, no beautiful photos from me, but except some camera phone snaps below!

Thinking back over 2013...

As I mentioned in my Christmas 2013 Recap post, I’ve been stressed out almost every Christmas holiday, including New Year, for the last few years. This has generally been self-inflicted, but almost always linked to work. This year has been different, and in fact, I’ve noticed a vast improvement over my entire year!

The beginning of 2013 was a bit rough with some family troubles and my uncle ended up in hospital, but he made a full recovery, which is the positive side of that story! I moved into a documentation/technical writing position at work, which involved writing FAQs and helpful guides for players with issues who visited our support website. I got to do a lot more writing which was great! I also dyed my hair bright purple, which I loved and hope to return to sometime.

Thinking back over 2013...

I did a lot of travelling and events with work this year. I attended ArcadeCon and hosted our work event with a colleague in front of a crowd of about 30 to 50 or so. I even got to meet Virginia Hey from my favourite series, Farscape! In August I went to Gamescom and got to not only host a lot of the contests on stage (in front of much larger crowds than at ArcadeCon!) but also cosplayed as Pentakill Sona as part of the Pentakill band performance. It was so exciting.

I also visited the Caribbean for the first time on a trip to Punta Cana. It was absolutely beautiful; we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel which was all-inclusive. I really want to get to a point in my life where I can feel like I can walk into any restaurant and just eat, without worrying about the cost. Even if I simply go on more all-inclusive holidays to get that feeling! Waking up at 6:00am to the beautiful sunrise, eating a lovely breakfast and swimming in the pool before relaxing on the beach, sipping complimentary cocktails all afternoon, was just one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, especially as I got to share it with T and some good friends.

Thinking back over 2013...

Towards the end of the year, I found the wonders of Final Fantasy XIV, got horribly addicted, and reached level 50 as a white mage with my Relic+1. I’m now in a wonderful Free Company called Cake with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in gaming. I genuinely enjoy hopping on for shenanigans with them, and helping them out whenever I can as they’ve done the same for me! Now all I have to do is convince T to join me and I’ll be pretty chuffed.

I made peace with an old friend and embarked upon a whole new friendship that I really appreciate! I also got promoted to Associate Project Manager at work, so I’m looking forward to digging in on that when the new year hits. It’ll be an entirely new experience and I can’t wait to get started! I took part in some fantastic training in the last few months as well, all of which have helped me to overcome my stress levels more, learn how to leave work at the office, and helped me improve my own time management and people skills. I foresee 2014 involving me honing those skills further, getting more focused with my writing, and potentially starting to plan a wedding, as last week we agreed on a provisional date!

Make love & WAR

Make love & WAR

A few days ago, on 18th December, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning shut down for good. Those of you who know me know that I haven’t played WAR in years, but it’s still an incredibly sad thing to see happen. Why? Because WAR was the first video game project I worked on. My games industry career started in GOA Games Services Ltd., the European publisher for an MMO that will forever stand out in my memory. I feel very strongly that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for myself taking that chance, and for the company taking a chance on me.

There’s a great post by John Drescher called WAR is (still) everywhere that rings particularly true for me. This quote is what really brought it home:

“If you look around the industry today at pretty much any major MMO being developed in the Western market, you will find WAR there. Sometimes, it will be in the games themselves where concepts and ideas that first showed up in WAR have been “gently borrowed”. Mostly, however, it’s in the people making those games. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a major MMORPG team whose leadership doesn’t feature someone who cut their teeth as a developer on WAR. In some cases, HUGE chunks of the WAR team simply set up shop in a new project – old comrades in a new home.”

The Tome of Knowledge really drove achievements into a mainstream requirement for MMOs, where they weren’t so much before. Titles, too, weren’t so big until WAR came along, and now they’re almost a staple in games. Most importantly, though, was the Public Quest system, which you can see iterations of in games like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV. Were things like these done before? Of course, but not in the same way or on the same scale, and that’s what makes the difference.

Perhaps more importantly, though, you find so many games industry professionals who worked on this game in some shape or form. I was in the customer support team then later the community team. I’ve moved through one additional games industry company before finding myself where I’m at now. Most of the people I work with now are people that worked with me before at GOA, and when I go to conventions like Gamescom, I meet old colleagues frequently just milling about the floor, working or just attending. As mentioned in the post on Josh Drescher’s blog, a lot of us learned skills from working in a tough environment that we’ve carried on to our new roles, and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for.

So thank you, to Mythic, to GOA, and to my fellow WAR coworkers, for what was a great experience and so key in my personal growth. I really do appreciate it, and will never forget it.

Thyrus Zenith Get! (FFXIV)

Final Fantasy XIV: I finally attained the White Mage Relice weapon!

After what feels like weeks of work, I finally completed my Relic quest and received my Thyrus Zenith. For those of you who don’t know, the Relic weapon is often the best in slot item for most jobs when it’s upgraded to “+1” (ie the Zenith part of the title, recently added), and achieving it consists of a long quest line involving killing multiple notorious monsters and the hardmode version of Primals.

The biggest challenge is defeating Titan HM, which was extremely tough but thanks to some really great people from my Free Company, it was much easier! Even if I did spend the last two minutes eating lava off the platform…

Next up? Pick up my remaining Darklight armour, then take a break from healing to level my Bard! I’m also strongly considering starting a new FFXIV specific blog, but I haven’t yet decided whether it would make sense or not. For now, my posts will be sporadically posted here!

First Impressions: Starbound

I’ve just picked up the new sci-fi sandbox adventure game, Starbound and have been playing it on and off since last weekend. I was playing before the character wipe, but didn’t want to get too involved since I’d only just started. The game is still in beta, but you can pick it up for a pretty reasonable price to get beta/early access.

First Impressions: Starbound - Landing on our first planet with MC Clank, aka my fiancé.

There’s a variety of races to choose from. While they’re really unique, I’m not really a big fan of the races themselves, so my “main” character will likely be a human called Thea, named after one of the two main characters in the story I’ve been writing for…over a year, now, haha. But I ended up making a floran just to be a little bit different while I play with my fiancé’s glitch character. He was originally playing Vince, the antagonist in my story as well.

First Impressions: Starbound - We're pretty adorable, sleeping next to each other to recover our health.

The game is fun, reminiscent of Terraria in appearance and some of the gameplay, but there’s just something very pleasant about feeling like I’m exploring the universe, discovering uncharted worlds and having to fight to survive. All in all, yes, it’s a lot of fun. I feel like there’s more purpose than in previous games of a similar type, which was ultimately why I stopped playing those. I’ve managed to sink a good few hours into Starbound without really noticing it. I recommend picking it up and giving it a go if you enjoy sci-fi and sandboxy games where you can explore and build!

Words to use in your cover letter (Working in Games #2)

Writing a Games Industry Cover Letter | Working in Games #2
Countless times, people ask for advice on how to write a games industry cover letter. I mentioned this briefly in my first Working in Games post, but using strong words in your cover letter and CV can make all the difference! I thought it would be worthwhile digging into this, and when I saw the image below I had to share.

Working in Games #2: 20 powerful words to use in a cover letter.
Source: The Sorority Secrets
I’d also recommend words like “executed”, “delegated”, and “developed”. Think of words that are central to the position you’re applying for, and how they can apply to something you’ve done before. These words are strong and show that you were key to the success of whatever it was you did. Now, possibly the most important part of all is not to overdo it, and to make sure you don’t tell a fib. Let’s face it, if you get hired as a team lead when you have zero leadership experience, all because you said that you “led a team”, only you are going to suffer!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped a friend with a CV or cover letter, and they’ve used arguably “weak” words to explain what they did. It comes across lacklustre, and even if the person reading the application doesn’t realise it consciously, it sounds like the person applying for the position simply did less than if they had used more powerful words.

This will apply for any position in any industry, not just gaming. Applying for a games industry job means you’re applying for a position in a fairly young industry, so using strong words is important. The people reading your CV could easily be just as passionate and enthusiastic as you are, so make sure you bring out the big guns to impress!

More in the Working in Games series
Working in Games series
Working in Games #1: How to make your CV stand out
Working in Games #2: Words to use in your cover letter
Working in Games #3: What to expect in your games industry job interview

Got any questions?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Screenshot Sunday #1

I decided to revive Screenshot Sunday and start posting screenshot only posts as a recap of my gaming! Feel free to join in and post your own screenshot posts along with me on Sundays, make sure to link me to them so I can check them out too! This week focuses on Final Fantasy XIV, which pretty much sums up my gaming life lately.

SCREENSHOT SUNDAY: Final Fantasy XIV: Hanging out with FC mates is the most fun!

SCREENSHOT SUNDAY: Final Fantasy XIV: I managed to get Ifrit's Cane on my fourth run of Ifrit Hard Mode!

Happy Sunday!

Autumn Steam Sale must haves

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, and I must apologise! Work has been very busy, and I’ve been having so much fun in my downtime that I’ve been very bad at keeping up with my non-gaming hobbies. Thank you for sticking around!

Now, it is that time of year again! The Steam Autumn Sale has graced us with its presence, much to the dismay of our poor wallets and bank accounts. Every time a Steam sale rolls around I both simultaneously wince in anticipation, and squee as I add the new games to my library. This is the reason I have such a huge gaming backlog! So, what have I picked up so far?

Steam Autumn Sale purchases: Papers, Please Steam Autumn Sale purchases: Rogue Legacy
Steam Autumn Sale purchases: The Walking Dead Steam Autumn Sale purchases: Gone Home
1. Papers, Please | 2. Rogue Legacy | 3. The Walking Dead | 4. Gone Home

I’ve only started playing Papers, Please so far and have been having a ridiculously fun time, which is surprising considering most of the point of the game is to stamp passports! But it’s become much more fun after a coworker joked about his conspiracy theory that secretly, people playing the game are actually working for Heathrow. I hope not, as I’ve unwittingly let a few shady characters into the country if that’s the case!

And now for the absolute must-haves, in my humble opinion, for this sale.

Steam Autumn Sale must haves: Game Dev Tycoon Steam Autumn Sale must haves: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Steam Autumn Sale must haves: XCOM: Enemy Unknown Steam Autumn Sale must haves: Outlast
1. Game Dev Tycoon (€4.49) | 2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (€7.49) | 3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (€9.99 | 4. Outlast (€6.45)

I personally adore all of my suggestions above, but if you only pick one of them I will forever recommend The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. On top of the original game only being €7.49 right now, the Legendary Edition, which contains the base game and all expansions, is only €13.59 right now. This game tops my list of favourites at the moment; those of you who know me, know I’m an Elder Scrolls fiend and have been since Morrowind. I did, indeed, shed a single tear of joy when I saw the teaser trailer for Skyrim!

I do also recommend Outlast pretty heavily for you horror game nuts out there. That might be because I’m cruel and want everyone to share in my pain, though…

What games have you picked up this sale?
Let me know in the comments!

Artwork Mini-Post (#1)

I’ve been collecting artwork for years, since I started hanging out on Gaia Online. First, it was of my avatars there, then eventually of my MMO characters and even of original characters for various universes, such as Bleach and stories I was working on. Recently, I started up the habit again by collecting artwork of my FFXIV character, Sirantha Swift, and I thought I would share some of the pieces I’ve received with you!

Artwork of Sirantha Swift, my Final Fantasy XIV character, in her white mage AF gear. (#1)
by Octogen on Gaia Online

Artwork of Sirantha Swift, my Final Fantasy XIV character, in her white mage AF gear. (#2)
by Yosh the Panda on Gaia Online

Artwork of Sirantha Swift, my Final Fantasy XIV character, in her white mage AF gear. (#3)
by lexleggy on Gaia Online

I’m in love with each of these pieces for different reasons. The first is sketchy and really unique. I have a real soft spot for sketchy and traditional pieces! The second piece is by a friend of mine, Veer. She’s adorable, I’ve known her for what feels like forever (seriously, like upwards of six or seven years) and I still remember when she gave me a teddy bear picture for my birthday! The final piece I just received today, and I’m in absolute awe. Some people are so talented!

Do you ever collect artwork?
Let me know in the comments!

What’s in a guild?

A few members of my Final Fantasy XIV Free Company, Knights of Shadow.
Source: A friendly neighbourhood FC member, Iolet.

I still remember sitting in front of my PC at home one evening, wondering what went wrong. Had I not been active enough? Had I not organised enough events? Was I taking things too personally? I didn’t really know the answer at that time, but as I read the hatemail in my character’s inbox, I felt kind of dismayed. I like to think of myself as a pretty nice, open, friendly person. To think that someone felt the need to send me hatemail over guild drama appalled me.

I was a leader of a legion in Aion. I had just decided one day that I’d led some casual guilds in the past with friends and it had worked out, so why not try creating one in this new game, and meeting new people? I planned to run gathering parties where we’d all band together to pick flowers, fun PvP raids, and dungeon runs. I wanted to help newer players and welcome them to our group of friends. I was truly excited. I created it with my fiancé and our mutual friend, Andy, and we ran it together. It went well! Until we got a request from one guy asking if he and his 10 friends could join. I thought this was fantastic. He seemed friendly and eager to help a small guild grow, so we welcomed them with open arms. For the first few weeks, everything went really well. Until it didn’t any more.

A really close family member was ill, and they were in and out of the hospital every now and then. I didn’t really feel like playing. I made the announcement that I’d be gone for a little while but I’d be in and out when I could. While I was gone, the cruddiness started. The group of 10 friends started making sexist comments and offending other guild members. When I asked them to stop, they called me a dictator. While I was gone for a more extended few days, the first guy I spoke to from their group tried to convince Andy to get leadership off me and kick me from the guild, under the guise of “helping” me while I was on hiatus. We laughed about it, but the officer panel decided that the best course of action was to ask the guy to leave as he’d caused a lot of issues. We told the rest of their group they were welcome to stay or leave as they chose, and explained our stance. The guy we eventually kicked continued talking to me privately and was really understanding. Unfortunately, his friends weren’t.

They all left, and his brother started sending me vicious private messages. I asked him to leave me alone, politely, and he started sending extremely abusive messages until my fiancé stepped in and sent him a message telling him to back off. The guy then accused me of pretending to be my own boyfriend, that I was really just one person, and that the only reason Andy was friends with me was because I manipulated him and he just wanted in my pants etc. I blocked him, and he just created new characters to send me extremely detailed and horrid messages. Even reporting him didn’t help. Eventually, I believe he was banned for harassing someone else.

What went wrong? I wondered if I could’ve done something better to make their experience enjoyable. I wondered if I really had been too absent for a guild leader, and if I should’ve just swallowed my pride and given up leadership to someone more active. That situation made me lose my confidence in my ability to lead, and I have shied away ever since.

I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the infamous “guild drama” before that, and even after that. But honestly, I’ve shied away from guilds because of what happened. My real life got in my way of the game, and apparently that was a crime. I was upset. Since then, I genuinely haven’t found a home in a game. Until recently, when I found Knights of Shadow on Odin in FFXIV. Unfortunately, it seems that not everything was sunshine and butterflies like I thought, and a few nights ago I received the bad news that our leader had left without so much as a word on the forums, and taken a chunk of people with him. I don’t really know the history there so I won’t comment on that, but I, like many other members, were somewhat offended that people we had come to know and respect, and even like a lot, had just abandoned us without an explanation, and moved on to another guild.

Honestly, my sadness was brief, because the people I had grown closest to, the people I had messed around on TeamSpeak (albeit briefly) with and felt perfectly comfortable joking around with, had decided to stay. They wanted to stick with me no matter where we ended up. And that made me really happy. It may mean we end up in another Free Company, but we’ll end up there together. Over the last few days I’ve learned that a guild is only worth as much as the people in it, and if you can learn to trust those people, you’ll be really well rewarded. I look forward to logging in and hanging out with these guys, and that’s more than I’ve had in many years of MMO gaming.

What’s in a guild for you?
Let me know in the comments!

Ding! Level 50 Conjurer! (FFXIV)

Final Fantasy XIV: Hitting level 50 Conjurer/White Mage!

Final Fantasy XIV: My proud kitty in her brand new White Mage AF gear.

I hit level 50 for the first time in Final Fantasy XIV today! It’s been a long time coming, but I finally reached level 50 on my CNJ/WHM, and unlocked the White Mage AF robe which I promptly equipped. I’m really excited by this, because for the first time ever, I’m in a guild in an MMO that I genuinely love and feel comfortable around. They’re planning on raiding, and often work together a lot to do dungeon runs and primals, so I know I have a great bunch to do events with.

Next stop? Levelling Thaumaturge to 26 to unlock Swift Cast for my WHM to be an even better healer, helping my friend Andy with his Titan (normal), and finishing my own storyline. Lots of exciting times ahead in FFXIV. I’m so glad I committed to playing this MMO!

Spooky Halloween stream!

You are invited to the Psyche Plays Halloween stream!

You are cordially invited to join me on Friday 1st November at approximately 9:00pm GMT (time to be confirmed) for a spooky Halloween stream! The stream will run “until late”, meaning I will basically stream until I fall asleep or all my viewers have run off to bed. I was originally planning on this being an all-nighter stream, but as I’ll be going up to visit family the next morning I’ll need to get a little bit of sleep for the journey!

Streamed Games:

» League of Legends (Harrowing skins only!)
» Diablo III
» Outlast
» Stop It, Slender!
» Don’t Starve

I may add more creepy games (Nightmare House 2 is a distinct possibility!) as the night goes on, but this is the list for now. To take part, simply go to my Twitch.tv channel, and make sure to click “Follow” if you want to receive a notification when I go live! I would love it if you’d come hang out with me! Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me your game suggestions.

Happy All Saints’ Wake! (FFXIV)

FFXIV: Happy All Saints' Wake!

First of all, happy All Saints’ Wake to all FFXIV players out there! Here’s a screenshot of my adorable kitty wearing this year’s costume, The Wailing Spirit. There’s also a whole host of pumpkin heads if you prefer to go that route for your spooky costume needs.

I’ve decided to move my Final Fantasy XIV ramblings over to this blog instead of on its own separate subdomain. The reason for this is, I actually play rather a lot of FFXIV, and I think things get a little confusing when I split the two. Why not share all my shenanigans here, where I talk about everything else? So I’ll be migrating my posts back over here over the next few days. Now, the link in the navigation bar will take you directly to all posts tagged with FFXIV, so you can find them easily.

Geeky fashion wishlist – T-Shirt Edition!

Geeky fashion wishlist - T-Shirt Edition! Featuring t-shirts from J!NX, Think Geek, and the BioWare store.
1. Diablo III Demon Hunter T-Shirt: J!NX | 2. Mass Effect N7 Burnout Tank: BioWare Store | 3. Mass Effect Garrus T-Shirt: BioWare Store | 4. Fringe White Tulip T-Shirt: Think Geek | 5. League of Legends Singed “Do Not Chase” T-Shirt: J!NX | 6. League of Legends Volibear Tea Party T-Shirt: J!NX

In my first Geeky Fashion Wishlist post, I shared some Mass Effect N7 goodies. Above I’ve listed some must-have t-shirts that I need to have in my life, all from various games and TV shows that I adore. Over the coming months I’ll be picking up as many of these as I can to add to my collection of geeky tees, particularly those from J!NX as they’ve always been a pleasure to order from in the past!

What’s on your geeky fashion wishlist?

Pokémon X & Y: First impressions

Pokémon Amie is a new feature in X & Y that allows trainers to play games & build a relationship with their Pokémon.

It’s no secret that I’m a Pokémon fanatic. I’m not quite at the point of the Pokéfan NPC, dressing up my (non-existent) children as Pokémon in an attempt to surround myself with the adorable little creatures. That said, I still have fond memories of picking up Pokémon Red on release day, and locking myself in my childhood bedroom to play it on my Gameboy. I only stopped briefly to eat, and even then it was only because my mum told me I had to. I was quite content to play until my batteries died, back when charging handhelds wasn’t a “thing”.

I’ve played at least one, if not two or three, games in every generation since the games were released. I was an avid card collector and played the card game, even attending “Pokémon Club” at my local gaming store on a Saturday morning, beating “Gym Leaders” and earning real badges I put in my binder. I was even a certified coach, and I’m not even cringing at how cheesy at awful that is. So suffice to say, I was freaking out whenever Pokémon X & Y were announced. I bought a 3DS for that very reason (playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a pleasant distraction until release) and was dying to pick up the games. I was a bit late, but I decided to go with X and have invested a few hours into the game as of two days ago.

So far? I’m loving it. It feels a bit…easier than the previous games, with EXP Share — an item to allow experience earned to be shared amongst your party — being handed over after the first gym, a mere hour or so into the game. That said, I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing. I feel like I played Red “wrong”. I didn’t grind my Pokémon to make sure they were all high enough level for the next gym. I had a favourite Pokémon who ended up 20+ levels higher than the rest of my party, and kind of winged it the whole way through. I was young, I was foolish. When I learned people actually trained their Pokémon, switching them out to make sure their party was even, I realised I’d been wrong all along! Now that I’ve picked up the same tactic, it feels easier and less tedious. EXP Share being an early addition to my inventory certainly helps.

Aesthetically, the game is pretty. I love that I can change my character’s appearance a lot more than just choosing male or female (remember when even that wasn’t an option?) and can buy clothes. It’s a silly addition but somehow it fits, and I like it.

Pokémon from the original 151 being featured very frequently is also a welcome addition. For those of you who don’t know already, you get to select a second starter from the original selection — Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. This is after already selecting your first starter from this new generation. It was very tough for me not to select two fire types. Charmander is my favourite evolutionary line of Pokémon, so that was a given! But the starters for X/Y are adorable, so luckily the water type was a nice addition to my team too. It evolves into a ninja frog! How cool is that?

Anyway, first impressions for me are very positive. I see myself investing a huge amount of time into this game, which is great! I’ll also likely do a few additional posts, including progress updates, naming conventions, and some tips and tricks.

Did you pick up one of the new games? Which one did you go for? Leave your friend codes below so we can battle/trade!

Friend Code: 3883-5227-2648

Home is where the heart is.

While I am extremely pleased about my independence, and love living with my fiancé (seriously, we should not be allowed to live together without adult supervision!), sometimes there’s nothing quite like a family visit. T’s sister picked us up in Dublin and we had a mini roadtrip, complete with games of I, Spy and 20 Questions, and after getting lost a few times we arrived home around 8:30pm. I’ve made great use of my childhood bedroom, cosying up with my laptop to play a few games of Hearthstone in my PJs, and today I headed out with my mum.

Lunch at South African restaurant, Makhulu 5. Delicious ham hock with mashed potatoes and gravy.

We went to Makhulu 5 for lunch. It’s a South African restaurant, complete with wood burning on an open fire in the open kitchen. I ordered the world’s biggest ham hock, with a brown sugar glaze, and I was utterly shocked at how big it was. We were ordering off the lunch menu! I’ll take something that size for £10.95, including a starter (ribs, of course) and dessert (hello chocolate fudge cake, where have you been all my life?). I had to get a doggy bag to cart some of it home…

Mummy Psyche driving her new car! My grandparents' little girl cat, Buzz. Yes, as in Lightyear.

We headed out to visit my grandparents, and Mummy Psyche drove me around in her new car! It’s pretty and purple, like my hair used to be (which I miss, by the way). I’ve always found it hilarious that my grandparents’ cat is a little girl called Buzz, as in Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

I know this is a little different, but I thought why not keep everyone up to date on what other things are going on in my life, even if they aren’t especially geeky?

Cosplay Wishlist: Jinx (League of Legends)

I’ve recently become pretty interested in cosplaying, after having the pleasure of cosplaying as Pentakill Sona at gamescom 2013. Now that I’ve caught the bug, I’m seeing opportunities everywhere, so I’m going to be posting wishlists of costumes that I’d love to take on as a personal challenge.

Get Jinxed!


“I might shoot you in your face…”

Ever since I heard about Jinx, I knew I was going to want to cosplay her. Coworkers have approached me and told me that her personality reminds them of me; I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment seeing as she’s notoriously crazy! But I love her. Her hair, her attitude, everything about her just attracts me. No doubt her outfit leaves little to the imagination, and she’s much skinnier than me but…I think I can make it work.

Cosplay wishlist: Jinx 3D model.Cosplay wishlist: Jinx base skin splash art.

Changes:

» Bulking out of the top to fit a larger chest size and to cover a little more of the rib-cage (every carry needs her support!)
» Longer shorts and skirt (mid-thigh for shorts, perhaps down to just above the knee for the skirt)
» Would probably only make one weapon to make it easier to carry, or at least make the other weapons lighter and non-functional

I’m a curvier girl than Jinx, but like I said, I think I can make it work. A little bit of toning in the tummy region and I’ll probably even feel pretty confident wearing it! After all, I still have my spindly sparrow-legs!

Progress: Diablo III (#1)

Ever since Blizzard announced they were getting rid of the AH in Diablo III, I’ve been reminiscing about my good times in the Diablo series of games, and most recently on my level 60 demon hunter in Diablo III. I talked about restarting when the AH was gone, relying only on loot and no longer on buying shiny items.

Screenshots - Diablo III: Gratuitous shot of my level 60 (6) demon hunter, Elenia! (right-click » view image to enlarge)

I love my demon hunter, Elenia. She has given me many hours of fun gameplay! My fiancé and I played together, with him on a barbarian, and we ran through all the way to the end of Inferno before starting working on unlocking Whimsyshire and grinding for gold, gear and paragon levels together. We took a break and now all I want to do is play again, but I fancy a fresh start.

Screenshots - Diablo III: My new monk, Naradra, starting off Act I. (right-click » view image to enlarge)

I rolled a monk and decided to give a solo playthrough a shot. I’m enjoying myself so far, and because I’ve played through the whole way already I fancied a challenge. I’m not quite up to MP10 (no gear makes it a bit too tough!) so I’m running through on MP5. If I pull my fiancé onboard, we’ll probably try tackling MP10 and see how it goes. He’s already getting the bug from watching me play!

Will you be returning to Diablo III?

League of Legends worlds finalists decided!

League of Legends world championships finals will show an intense match between SK Telecom T1 & Royal Club.

I waited with baited breath on Saturday night to see who would go through from the second semi-final match into the finals. Would our European heroes, FNATIC, be proving that EU had what it took to reach the finals, or would Chinese top seed Royal Club take the win?

It was a tough series to watch, and while the outcome wasn’t in Europe’s favour I can say that I am proud of FNATIC’s performance. They played incredibly well, and proved themselves to be world class competitors in League of Legends. They may not have won, but they did well and the matches were really entertaining to watch. Congratulations to Royal Club for making it through, and GGWP to FNATIC for an amazing series. Can’t wait to see where Season 4 takes you!

That leaves us with the finals happening on Friday evening, and I think I speak for all of us when I say how ridiculously excited I am. We’re attending an event at our offices, and will be playing games right up until the games kick off. I’m very curious as to who will take the cup, as both teams have really strong players. Faker is obviously a favourite, but Uzi and Tabe have proven time and time again to be an awesome combo. Definitely hoping for a five-game series! Where will you be spending the finals?

If you missed the matches between FNATIC and Royal Club, you can watch the VoDs on lolesports.com.

Psyche Plays Outlast…and fails at it

If you missed my first post about Outlast, let me give you a quick recap! Basically, I’m a wuss, and I decided it was a great idea to pick up indie horror game Outlast and give it a shot. Not only that, but I thought, “Hey, since I’m going to play Outlast anyway, why not record it? Or better yet, why not stream it live so everyone can laugh at my stupid face as I scream?!”

So that’s what I did. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos. I release a new horror game video every Saturday for Scaredy-Cat Saturday! You know what that means…there’ll be a new one later on today! Oh, joy…

League of Legends worlds semi-finals start today!

The League of Legends worlds semi-finals start today!The League of Legends Season 3 World Championships have been raging on for the last few weeks, and as a European player last weekend I was biting my nails watching the FNATIC vs Cloud9 match, hoping I’d be seeing my region playing again soon! Unfortunately Gambit didn’t make it through, but I’m excited to know that later today (since it’s technically semis day!) I’ll be able to watch an EU team play once again thanks to FNATIC’s impressive victory last weekend.

The semis kick off at 4:00am, in just under four hours, with two Korean giants, SK Telecom T1 facing off against Najin Black Sword. Later on, at 8:00pm we’ll get to see the terrifying Chinese top seed, Royal Club, playing against the Season 1 winners, FNATIC.

While I’ll be watching both matches, I’m really looking forward to the latter. I’m nervous for FNATIC; Royal is an amazing team and they played incredibly well in their quarters match against fellow Chinese team OMG. I’ve got beers and girlie alcopops in the fridge ready for the match, and I’ve cancelled my streaming plans for tomorrow evening. I may invite fellow fans to join me in my Twitch chat to hang out and chat about the games before, during and after. How will you be watching the semi-finals? Stay up to date with the latest on lolesports.com.

How to make your CV stand out (Working in Games #1)

Writing a Games Industry CV | Working in Games #1
I’ve been working in the games industry for almost 10 years, and for about a year I worked in recruitment. Not only do I pride myself in my own CV, but I have a fair idea of what makes an application really stand out when it reaches the recruitment team of the company you’re interested in, so here are some tips on writing an excellent games industry CV/resume, and make sure your job application gets noticed.

Read More

SteamOS announced

Valve announces Steam Operating System (SteamOS). In an effort to bring Steam to living rooms everywhere, Valve has announced SteamOS, a free operating system designed for the TV. Built on a Linux framework, it will run on living room systems and allow gamers to access the great community features of Steam, as well as all of their games and user-generated content.

Supposedly, the new operating system will allow vast improvements in graphics processing, and Valve has set their sights on improving performance further through audio and input. I’ll be interested to see how this will work, but since it’s already confirmed that a lot of existing Steam titles are already working on SteamOS, that’s definitely a good start.

Some of the most important features are listed below:

» In-home streaming: stream from your PC to your SteamOS device while you play.
» Access to a wide variety of media: music and video services coming soon. Something similar to Netflix, maybe?
» Family sharing: this was already announced, and is a feature I love. Sharing with close friends/family just like gaming days of old!
» Cross-platform cloud: ability to switch from your PC to your SteamOS device and continue your game where you left off.

No date confirmation yet, but I’d imagine they’ll keep the SteamOS page up to date. What do you think? Is this something you’d use?

Final Fantasy XIV post round-up

My FFXIV: ARR character, Sirantha, exploring Toto Rak!

For those of you who don’t know, I keep a specific Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn blog to follow my kitty’s antics across Eorzea called Psyche Plays FFXIV. Each week on a Saturday I will post a Final Fantasy XIV post round-up so anyone not actively following my FFXIV blog can check out any of the posts I’ve made over there, or any other relevant stuff I’ve done!

» Dungeon Guide: Sastasha – I wrote a short guide for the first dungeon in FFXIV: ARR, and will continue to do so for all other dungeons!

» PUG’ing all day long – a short rant about my pick-up group woes.

» My FFXIV: ARR review on The Arcade – I got a writing gig with The Arcade and voiced my thoughts on my new favourite MMORPG.

I’ll be keeping that blog up to date with any specific in-game content, so I hope you enjoy your read! Thanks for checking it out.

Blizzard drop Diablo III Auction House

Blizzard decides to remove the Auction House from Diablo III in March 2014.

The team behind Blizzard’s action RPG Diablo III have decided to remove the Auction House from the game as of 18th March 2014. Their reasoning is that it’s “become increasingly evident that…[the AH] ultimately undermines Diablo’s core game play: kill monsters to get cool loot”. This change will affect both the gold and real money AH, which is a move I honestly didn’t see the company going for.

How do I feel about it? Pretty intrigued! I didn’t mind the AH, in fact I made a great deal of use out of it when levelling my Demon Hunter and beating Inferno. I knew I’d never finish the game though; I’m merely Paragon Level 6, and my gear isn’t quite as robust as I’d like. Unfortunately, playing the game became less about getting cool items and building up my DH’s gear, and more about grinding, grinding, grinding until I had enough gold to buy items that I wanted on the AH. I didn’t really like the real money AH purely because I tend to buy an item without looking at all the possible iterations of said item (I do shop around, just not as much as I should) and I couldn’t justify spending real money just to discover there was another much better set piece for a few cents more.

I think this will be good for the game, and I see a lot of former players vowing to come back after not playing in a while. While I’m disappointed that I haven’t managed to build my character up to ridiculous levels of DPS quite yet, I do have time since the change doesn’t go through until next year.

What do you think about this change?

Can I outlast Outlast?

The answer to that question is probably a resounding, “No.” I cannot outlast brand new indie horror game Outlast. My first playthrough, above, I barely lasted 16 minutes excruciating minutes. Apologies in advance for the dark webcam and very loud mic.

I am a scaredy-cat by nature. Horror movies are usually okay, but I have incredibly severe nyctophobia (fear of the dark) and it’s not just what might be in the dark that scares me, but the darkness itself. Horror games get me involved in the action, which is inherently scarier than just passively watching. I tried to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent, another indie horror game and one of the most infamous, and also F.E.A.R., but have not finished either. I thought it was a great idea to pick up Outlast for some reason!

I’m determined to finish this one, so I’ll be adding videos to my Outlast playlist as they come out, and will also be livestreaming on my Twitch.tv channel for Scaredy-Cat Saturdays!

I’d love it if you’d subscribe to my YouTube channel, I’ll be putting out horror videos every Saturday (or Sunday) and other gameplay videos throughout the week!

D&D shenanigans #2

We revamped our party structure a little to help T with his DMing, since he wanted to try out some stuff before continuing the campaign with a wider audience (even if that wider audience was only an additional person). Korben has been temporarily removed (including his pet weasel, Geoffrey) and replaced with the following new additions:

» Derrys the human cleric, intelligent as in book-smart, but sincerely lacking in common sense. Sweet, but ditzy and quite clumsy.

» Kevvan the halfling rogue, pretty much a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s not quite as nimble as he pretends, which means when he does manage to be dextrous, he takes great pride in it and makes sure everyone knows about it.

In which my DM makes me cry…

We continued where we left off. This time, we camped out before making our way back to the ravine, in search of the infamous Sunless Citadel. A short trek through the shadowed crevice and we arrived at the courtyard. The citadel was more than a little bit dilapidated, with crumbling stone crenulations strewn about the cobblestoned courtyard. Down here, the sunlight barely reached the ravine floor, and the limited light cast eerie shadows across the rock face.

Read More

D&D shenanigans #1

I’ve always wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons; my only experience had been playing Neverwinter Nights and while there’s dice-rolling it’s all behind the scenes. I wanted to use my imagination! My fiancé was itching to run a dungeon as well, and so we picked up a premade adventure called The Sunless Citadel. Allow me to introduce our characters!

» Corthana the human fighter, played by yours truly. A noble brat, trying to make her way as an adventurer because it’s fashionable.

» Eric the human fighter, played by my fiancé Tristan. Corthana’s bodyguard, and the only reason Corthana’s father indulged her thirst for adventure. He’s a mute.

» Korben the human wizard, played by our mutual friend Andy. He gets himself into trouble an awful lot, and we don’t yet know much about him.

» Geoffrey the weasel. Korben’s trusty familiar, often used in Korben’s devices to get us out of trouble (but it often doesn’t work).

The story so far…
Not a very well-written story, just a recap!

Korben and Geoffrey approached the town of Oakhurst from the south, while Corthana and her “shadow”, Eric, approached from the north. They reached the town as an auction was underway. Further investigation showed a group of goblins standing on a wooden platform in the equivalent of a town square, one holding an apple high (or as high as a goblin can) above his head. There was a fierce bidding war, and finally a reputable merchant woman won the apple and the crowd dispersed. Korben promptly found his way to the merchant’s store and tried to bluff his way in by claiming to be an old friend of the merchant (despite being in his early 20s while the merchant was much older) and eventually succeeded, despite not being able to recall the merchant’s name when prompted. Corthana, followed closely by Eric, went to the inn to ask where she could get some adventure. This didn’t go over too well with Garon, the barkeep, as she didn’t give him any money and treated him quite rudely, but he pointed the pair in the direction of the merchant’s home.

Read More

Adventures at gamescom 2013

gamescom 2013: The biggest gaming convention in the world with 340,000 visitors this year!

From 20th August to 26th August I was AFK, as I was visiting Cologne, Germany for gamescom 2013! For those of you who don’t know, gamescom is the largest gaming convention in the world, with around 300,000 attendees each year since it began. This year, we broke records, as the convention was sold out from Thursday to Sunday – the first time Sunday had been sold out before – bringing 340,000 total attendees! Really exciting, and I was working the whole convention.

gamescom 2013: Hanging out with Riot Pente backstage before the crowd came in on Wednesday.

This year I was responsible for keeping our mini-site coverage up to date and being “the eyes and ears” for people who couldn’t make it to the event on social media. I was on stage to present cosplay shows twice a day every day (though on the last two days I lost my voice due to the infamous nerd flu and couldn’t speak!) which was scary, but really exciting! Wednesday was quiet as it was only open to press and media, and a select few people who were lucky enough to get a hold of limited tickets. After that, the halls were packed. I got to roam around a bit and see some other games I was interested in on the last day, since my schedule was a bit quieter, and picked myself up some Skyrim swag!

gamescom 2013: Cosplaying as Pentakill Sona, backstage before our first performance!

The scariest part of gamescom for me this year was cosplaying myself, for the first time ever! I cosplayed as Pentakill Sona from League of Legends, and it was terrifying but so exciting. I think I’ve well and truly caught the cosplay bug now, and got T involved as well; he’s agreed to help me make costumes if I decide to start cosplaying for real! I think I’d like to do that as a hobby.

Is this thing on?!

Hello! My name is Kirsty, though I’m probably better known by my online gaming alias, Psyche. I was having trouble with my previous blog title not feeling “me” enough (and the fact that people called me “Peace” as my former blog was “PeaceLoveGaming” didn’t help) and wanted to integrate my gaming alias that I’ve been using for over 10 years somehow. Since my hosting package was expiring and my previous webhost was abismal, I decided to take the plunge and start fresh. It wasn’t easy; I worked hard on my former blog, but it felt like I needed to do it.

So here we are, on Psyche Plays! I will talk about my gaming exploits, writing adventures, and any other geeky or fangirly things that come to mind. Take heed, this will be a geeky blog. I will not refrain from gushing about video games. I have moved away from calling gaming a hobby and started calling it a lifestyle, and I stand by that choice. I do work in the games industry, after all!

That’s not to say I won’t talk about my personal life from time to time, but this is primarily a geeky, gaming blog. If you’re interested in reading about my adventures in Final Fantasy XIV, I will be starting a separate subdomain for that in the very near future. The link will be on the top navigation bar!

I hope you enjoy your stay!