Blaugust – The Story So Far (Blaugust #27)

Blaugust is nearing its end, with only four days to go after today, and I’m really starting to feel it. It’s been a wonderful journey, and here are a few of the highlights and lowlights of this year’s Blaugust.

highlights

  • I met a ton of gaming and geeky bloggers that I had never met before, and now have a lot more blogs on my reading list!
  • I made much more of an effort to comment on blog entries, which made me feel more engaged with the blogging community. I’ve always felt like gaming blogging had very few people in its community compared to other blogging genres but now I see I was just looking in all the wrong places!
  • My creativity bone has well and truly been stimulated. Making an effort to blog every day has actually encouraged me to continue working on the novel I want to publish one day (hopefully sooner rather than later) and I’ve started making some major progress on it!

lowlights

  • Not specifically related to Blaugust, obviously, but I got sick at about week two and it really killed my productivity for a few days. It made blogging very difficult, let alone anything else I needed to do.
  • I think I missed a total of four days throughout Blaugust, due to illness mostly, but over the past weekend I missed a day as I often blog in the evenings, and on Saturday I streamed for longer than normal and was so tired I just went straight to bed.
  • I feel like I should have a specific topic to talk about during Blaugust, and that they should be somewhat general. For that reason, I’ve put off doing a first impressions review of a game I’d like to share, because it doesn’t feel like a Blaugust topic. Even though I know Blaugust is just about posting every day!

All in all, it’s been a wonderful event this year, and I was much more productive than last year. I feel like I could do any challenge that comes my way now. So NaNoWriMo this year? Totally going to tackle it!

I’d like to take this somewhat premature opportunity to thank Bel for organising this, and for keeping everyone motivated throughout the challenge! And thank you to all the wonderful people I’ve met while taking part.

What’s your journey through Blaugust been like? Any highlights or lowlights for you?

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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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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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?

How to Survive Blaugust (Blaugust #7)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day-7_how-to-survive-blaugustImage source: FreeImages.com

Now that we’re one week into Blaugust, I think everyone is starting to realise that while it’s very rewarding, there is an inherent challenge in posting on your blog every day, especially when you’re not used to it. For example, I try to blog about two to three times per week, so this is a big step up for me!

With that in mind, here are five of my own tips on how to survive Blaugust and make it rewarding for you!

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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!

What to Expect in Your Interviews (Working in Games #3)

Games Industry Job Interview - What to Expect | Working in Games #3
So you’ve just been invited for an interview at a games company. What the heck do you do?! In this post, I’m going to cover things to expect in your games industry job interview. It won’t be a catch-all guide for what to say and what not to say, but it’ll at least give you a fair idea of what you’re facing, so you don’t walk in completely blind!

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Life, the Universe & Everything (03/07)

I feel like it’s been a while since I gave an update on everything that’s been going on. What better time for an update on my life and what’s been going on than after a mini blog revamp?

I had a week off work last week, and spent most of that time playing Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion, Heavensward which released officially on Tuesday 23rd June. I reached level 60 on my Bard (thank goodness!) and started working on gearing up for the new content. I also did a 12-hour stream on Friday last week, levelling Dark Knight with my friends, who played an Astrologian and a Machinist with me. It was a lot of fun!

Speaking of streaming, I have been working to improve my schedule and am tweaking it at the moment, but in the last few weeks I’ve been aiming to stream at least twice a week, attempting to increase that to three times. So far it’s been going great, and I took part in the 24-hour Heavensward Stream-a-thon organised by EvilSqueegeeOpt1kal and WantonNerd. It was a ton of fun, and I met a lot of great FFXIV streamers through the event!

Outside of the geeky sphere, T and I have been planning our trip to South Africa next year! We booked our flights a few days ago, and will be travelling early next year. It’s a really exciting trip, and definitely once-in-a-lifetime. For those of you who don’t know, T is from South Africa. He was born there and his South African side of the family still live there. He hasn’t seen many of them for a long time, so it’s going to be a bit of a homecoming for him.

Our plan so far is to visit friends and family in Durban (two of my FC mates from FFXIV also live there so we will stay with them for a few days!), then travel out to Cape Town and visit some of the sights. We will then drive up the Garden Route and  eventually arrive back in Durban for the last few days before we go home. We’re aiming to have our last few days be a “true” holiday experience, staying in a hotel near the beach and chilling out. It’s the first time the two of us have gone on a “real” holiday together just for us, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Finally, next week is our 10-year anniversary together! We’re not buying any big gifts, but we’re planning on going out to our favourite restaurant on Friday evening.

Hope you’ve all been keeping well lately!

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.

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!

Oops, I resubscribed

Blaugust Day 24: Oops, I resubscribed to FFXI...

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at your PC (or other gaming device of choice) and staring at your list of games, not sure what to play. You remember the good old days in insert-old-MMO-here and sigh wistfully. Would it be that hard to go back? What would it be like? Most of us shut down the thought in an instant, remembering that there was a reason we quit or moved on, laugh at our moment of weakness and launch something else. I usually do. But not this time.

This time it was different, because my Free Company in Final Fantasy XIV are a big old bunch of enablers who played my personal addiction religiously. A lot of you probably already know my history with Final Fantasy XI; I wanted to play it at release so badly but couldn’t, and then a friend I met online started playing again and I jumped in too (if you’re reading this Tilly, thank you and curse you! Also, I’m sorry but I think I stole your hairstyle…) I never really got very far, not even reaching level cap, but I really loved it and I guess part of me felt rewarded since I could finally play it after not touching it when I really wanted to all those years ago. And now that my FC is playing, I’ve resubscribed again.

I’ve seen World of Warcraft players do the same, and have almost slipped up myself several times on that front. I’ve watched friends, now serial WoW quitters and resubbers, dip their toe in and get sucked into the whirlpool of nostalgia before realising the fun didn’t last. And I know, deep down, that will happen with FFXI as well. But y’know what? Right now, I’m revelling in the soundtrack while I sip on a cup of tea, just like I did six years ago on a cold evening in January, when I first started playing.

Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. Pity it’s pretty terrible for my wallet.

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

The good old days of MMOs

Blaugust Day 9: The good old days of MMOs, Final Fantasy XI!

I have always had a very over-active “nostalgia bone”, which tends to be my downfall when it comes to MMOs. I’m often tempted back into old MMOs that I haven’t played in a while because of it. This hasn’t really happened to me recently as I’ve most definitely found my home in Final Fantasy XIV, but I am not naive enough to think it won’t happen again sometime.

But one time I’d love to return to is the good old days of Final Fantasy XI. I didn’t reach level cap like I have done in other MMOs since, or like my friends did in FFXI on multiple jobs, but I still remember the game so fondly. I played it with Tilly of Paper Crowned; she was a veteran, whereas I had never played the game before but had always wanted to from watching friends play it in the past. I still fondly remember curling up in my old computer chair with a cup of tea for a spot of fishing with friends.

A lot of people complained about FFXI; it was a punishing game, with very little forgiveness. One of my least favourite memories is of dying after finally reaching the level that I could equip my next gear, so I ended up lying in a heap on the ground, completely naked. It wasn’t my finest moment, to say the least!

For some reason, this game holds a special place in my heart though. It was the first MMO I ever encountered, even though I wasn’t able to play due to not being able to pay for it myself (I was a young teenager!) and having paranoid parents who didn’t trust the internet at the time. So I settled for watching people playing, marvelling over how the characters really breathed and the cat girls that pranced around the beautiful environments. I listened to friends talk about what jobs they’d level and what they needed for their subjobs, what skills they wanted to level up.

I’m fully aware the game is vastly different to what it was before. I realise I probably won’t enjoy it the same way I did. But that doesn’t stop me from looking back on it fondly and remembering those great times that I spent with friends or all those wonderful people I met. And maybe one day I’ll give it a shot again!

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Why I heal

Most people have a really profound reason behind their choice of role in an MMO — or, indeed, in any game — especially when it comes to healing or tanking. I am often a healer in MMOs, and fellow healers always seem to have had this in their history, something that’s just always been the case. Their go-to class, perhaps. But for me? It’s not really how it works.

My first ever class in an RPG-esque game was a Paladin in Neverwinter Nights. I played her with a greatsword and a focus on smacking things in the face, which means later I decided Fighter made more sense. In fact, T and I played NWN together a lot, and we always had our two iconic Fighters in fullplate with greatswords, and a huge roleplaying backstory behind them. It wasn’t until I played Final Fantasy XI that I began healing, and even then it wasn’t entirely by choice. I wanted to play a Dark Knight. I wanted to play melee DPS. All of my friends also, sadly, wanted to play melee DPS (even specifically picking Dark Knight) and that messed with our static party, so I decided to take the hit and play something different. I tried tanking and it didn’t feel the same, so I went with healing instead.

Ever since then, I’ve dabbled in DPS classes every time I start out in an MMO, only to end up ultimately switching to a healer for the “good of the party”. My current MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, is no different. I started out as an Archer with intentions of playing a Bard and going support-DPS, especially because I’d always admired my friend’s Bard in FFXI and while they’re pretty different, I thought it’d be fun. It was! And I even tried to play Arcanist into Summoner, but we had so many DPS players in my first Free Company that it made sense to switch. Since I wasn’t fond of the idea of tanking, I went with White Mage, and it’s kinda stuck ever since, with me switching out to DPS with my other static when I play with them.

To say I heal out of pure necessity would be a lie, however. One thing I think a lot of healers, and even tanks, have in common is that we like to feel needed, or like we’re making a really positive impact on the party. And that’s what keeps me coming back to healing. I feel important, and I feel like my role is necessary. Most of all, I feel challenged, and that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Blaugust Day 7: Non-Specific Game Blogging

Blaugust Day 7: Non-Specific Game Blogging, can get lonely!

Belghast over at The Aggronaut mentioned in his most recent Blaugust post that non-specific game blogging isn’t a huge thing and doesn’t have much of a community, and this is something that I identify with a lot as it’s always been a concern of mine.

I started public blogging years ago, and I focused specifically on Final Fantasy XI. I was never a particularly well-known blogger in the FFXI community but a friend of mine was, and it always inspired me to see so many people engaging with one another. That’s what motivated me to get involved with blogging more actively, and so I continued the tradition into Aion where I became a little better known. I tried a few different MMOs and blogged about them, but I realised that I am not a one-game gamer. I play a wide variety of games; MMOs, RPGs, FPS…the list could go on for a rather long time. And so I realised that I was always going to want to talk about multiple games, which is what made me want to start a general gaming blog like this.

I was always concerned that talking about so many different games would mean no one would be interested in reading on a regular basis, because people wanted to read about the games they were interested in. They didn’t want to read about my interests, or the games they had no intention of playing! Why would they want to read my little blog? Along with that, I noticed that there are tons of gamers who write about their experiences in specific games, but very few who interact on a regular basis and talk about all the games they play. I was worried that I wouldn’t find a “home” in a community because I wasn’t focused.

Blaugust has shown me that there’s a lot of people out there who play games the way I do, and even more importantly, who talk about games in the same way I do. And that’s really encouraging! I hope that I’ll be able to talk to these people more often, and we can form our own community. Maybe I can even reform #GamerGathering, the Twitter chat I tried to get started but that ultimately fell on its face a bit as we only had a few people interested in the chat!

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Blaugust Day 6: The Joys of Streaming

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

It’s Day 6 of Blaugust and I’m still on a high from my streaming tonight so I wanted to talk about the joys of streaming today. It’s a short one, but I hope you won’t mind!

Streaming has become pretty popular recently, with news buzzing about big name streamers and how they’ve “made it” and lots of people trying to get started with their own video game stream. In the middle of all of this, I’ve been streaming quietly in the corner, playing horror games on Saturdays and random games throughout the week. And you know what? It’s fun!

I’ve mentioned before in my Why I Stream post that I have always used streaming as a sort of surrogate friendship. It’s not that I don’t have friends, it’s that most of my gaming buddies are in different timezones, and until very recently I didn’t have people to hang out with while I played games. I craved that, especially after my good times in gaming centres and watching friends enjoy themselves talking about their favourite game with guildies.

Streaming was a gateway to this for me. I’ve just shut down my stream after around two-and-a-half hours of playing Final Fantasy XIV. Do I get a ton of viewers? Not yet, maybe one day. But the people who come to hang out with me are invaluable — they’re friends, people whom I love speaking with and whose company I enjoy. I look forward to streaming because I get to spend time with my buddies, and that’s something I haven’t been able to do in a long time.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Blaugust Day 5: Games as experiences

#Blaugust
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.

I heard of a little thing called Blaugust, and I just had to participate considering so many great gaming bloggers seem to be taking part, and I’ve been able to discover a few new blogs through just reading up on it today! But, since it’s already Day 5 and I’ve missed a few days, I will be catching up with a few different topics today, to make up for my laziness over the weekend. My chosen topic is “Games as experiences”, which is something I feel very strongly about. Let’s get started, shall we?

My earliest gaming experience

Blaugust Day 5: My earliest gaming experience in Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis.

I very barely remember my dad bringing home my Nintendo, but something I do remember is the feeling of excitement. I still get that same feeling every time I think back to my NES. My first video game was Duck Hunt, with the light-gun and everything! I was only about five, and I played every single day. I also played a lot of Super Mario and Top Gun. But, while that was my first foray into the gaming world, my earliest gaming experience (which is different!) is sitting on my bed, room still in darkness as it was the middle of winter and the sun hadn’t come up yet, early one morning before school. I couldn’t have been older than seven or eight. I was playing Sonic The Hedgehog.

I had the weirdest separation anxiety as a child, and I hated going to school more than almost anything. Playing Sonic every morning for half an hour before school (read: before my mother caught me and told me to hurry up and get dressed) made me feel better. It made me feel like, no matter what, these characters I’d become attached to would be there waiting for me when I got home. And somehow, that made everything okay.

The first time a game made me really “feel”

Blaugust Day 5: The first game to make me feel was probably Mass Effect 3.

I’m a very emotional person. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite sensitive, quick to tear up, and I become very emotionally invested in fandom. Not quite to the extent that some people do, but I was very attached to my shows and the characters within, and have always enjoyed crying at a sad or happy part in a movie or show. Games generally didn’t affect me in this way, until quite recently.

I’d read about BioWare wanting to make games like Mass Effect make people really “feel” something. I was barely impacted by this initially, even up until the end of the second game, but for some reason Mass Effect 3 ruined me emotionally! Without spoiling anything specifically for those of you who haven’t played, one character was at risk and I managed to save him. Even though I saved him, seeing him running towards the ship, safe and alive, made me burst into ugly tears. I proceeded to cry about four times in the next hour during that game. It may have had its problems, and its ending may have needed some work, but the story was told well and the attachment I’d built to the characters over the trilogy really made some of the things that happened just plain hurt.

I also still remember bawling my eyes out at a recent game, Gone Home. The game took me completely by surprise, and I remember being a total mess when I completed it one rainy Sunday afternoon. Check out my full review of Gone Home, but be warned there are spoilers aplenty!

My favourite offline gaming memory

By “offline” here I mean in-person, off the computer. I’d say most of us have some experiences of the gaming world offline in this sense, and for me this came in the form of a LAN gaming centre. The centre I used to attend as a teenager and later worked in, GAME THE WORLD, had so many different memories and experiences that it’s hard to pick just one. It is, by itself, one of my favourite memories. I met so many people there, including my fiancé, and it had a massive impact on my social life as a teenager. Instead of underage drinking and experimenting with drugs on the beach with people I went to school with, I was hanging out with gamers at a gaming centre, playing games and having fun.

My favourite offline gaming memory, if I had to choose one, was our Halloween party at one of the centres. This was now coming up on seven or eight years ago now, which is shocking! But we all came, dressed in silly outfits, and played games all night together. We played both online and offline games and pranked people who had fallen asleep. I remember stumbling back into my fiancé’s house at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning, mind still buzzing with memories of the dude who dressed as a school girl, make-up and all, and the teddybear who’d had a mob boss hold a toy gun to his head at 4:00am, and falling asleep in a heap on the floor. I still miss those gaming centres, and the people I met there.

Interested in taking part in Blaugust?

Check out the Nook on Anook, or Belghast’s post on the Gospel of Blaugust and get started! You don’t have to write a gaming blog, and your posts don’t have to be about gaming to participate. So come along and join the fun!

Just Sayin’: Skimpy armour isn’t the devil

I like skimpy armour. There, I said it. I like armour that’s flattering to the form and still fantasy-friendly. Before you grab your pitchforks, hear me out. I’m not talking about female characters wearing straps of leather and pretending it protects them in some way, but y’know that Conan guy? Yeah, I think the bare-chested look with the loin cloth works for a big sword wielding fella, and why shouldn’t that be an option for the ladies too?

Realism is a wonderful thing in armour, and something I have a great deal of respect for. Breastplates without boob curves look fantastic, and even better if they don’t impale the poor women wearing them. However, I’m not averse to the infamous “boob window”, or characters that require a great deal of manoeuvrability wearing clothing that doesn’t restrict their form. While I’d probably prefer my rogue to be wearing form-fitting black leather that covers the majority of her body, with a hood to match, I’m not going to turn my nose up at a bit of cleavage, or a midriff displayed here and there.

I realise that some people will feel this makes me a bad feminist, because skimpy armour is there to objectify and overly sexualise women, however I don’t entirely agree. While yes, games like TERA are fairly renowned for their armour that borders on the ridiculous, I do feel that we’re conflicting here a little. To quote Dani Colman in her post The problem with false feminism (or why “Frozen” left me cold):

I don’t have a particular problem with women being sexualised on screen, either: as long as they aren’t objectified, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating that the female body can be a beautiful thing that is very appealing to show off.

Feminism states that women should be entitled to wear whatever they want in the real world. Shouldn’t women in the gaming world have the same options open to them? At least within reason.

Just sayin’…

Just Sayin’: Donation buttons aren’t terrible

Just Sayin': Donation buttons aren't terrible.
Source: WeHeartIt.com

I don’t personally have a donate button on my blog or stream, but I’ve seen a lot of great streamers who do. I generally don’t choose to donate to them, but I think it’s a great way for people to show support to people who create great content, be it through writing, video, podcasting or any other medium. I have, however, seen a lot of hate directed at people who have a donation button.

My first problem with this is that these people are creating content that you enjoy watching…for free. There is no charge, and a donation is by its very nature a voluntary thing. Now, I can understand being frustrated by people going out of their way to solicit donations, or making it the main focus of their content, but this shouldn’t reflect poorly on the people who work hard and have a donation option available to anyone who is interested in adding some additional support. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with someone earning a little bit of cash from doing something they love, if they have the option available to them.

My second problem, is that a lot of female content creators, particularly streamers or video creators, get a lot of flak for this in particular. Now, I don’t want to sound like a broken record (which I know I probably am at this point) but it is definitely not a women-only thing. I see plenty of male streamers or content creators accepting donations for their content too, and that’s okay! “But women only get donations because boobs!” I hear you cry. Not only is that irrelevant, but it’s also not true. A lot of streamers, regardless of gender, receive donations because people like to support them, and want them to continue doing what they do. Why? Because they’re fun to watch, and losing that entertainment would be upsetting to a lot of people who enjoy their content.

So while I don’t feel that a donation button is right for me at the moment, I don’t look down on someone who has one. I turn my nose up a bit at those who beg for donations or add to their intro or outro that there’s a very easy way to donate down below, however those who simply have an option available do not bother me in the slightest. You’re totally entitled to your opinion, of course, but don’t paint all content creators with the same brush, particularly if you’re going to make it a gender-based thing. It’s not.

Just sayin’…

Throwback Thursday: My first MMO experience

Throwback Thursday: My first MMO experience - Final Fantasy XI.

My first MMO experience wasn’t through actually playing an MMO. I was a member of an online community when I was about 14 or 15, and we had a guild of people from all around the world. All of my guildmates were into this MMO game; a genre I had never heard of. It was over 10 years ago now, so you can’t really blame me! The MMO in question was Final Fantasy XI.

A guildmate whom I also knew offline was playing, and when I was at his house with some friends one day I remember him starting to play it. I was completely enraptured, especially when I saw the catgirl race, Mithra, for the first time. I watched him play, and day in and day out I read posts on our forum about this game and how my guildmates were levelling, what “Jobs” they needed to level. I remember hearing them talking about levelling White Mage in order to become a better Paladin, and I didn’t really understand it but I knew I wanted to play.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t, because it required a subscription and unsurprisingly by teenage self didn’t have a debit or credit card and my parents really didn’t want to pay for a subscription game. So instead, I looked on longingly and eventually ended up playing my first RPG as a result of my burning desire to explore Vana’diel. This was where my first exposure to The Elder Scrolls series also began, as I picked up Morrowind as a kind of consolation prize, and I’m glad I did!

Throwback Thursday: My first MMO experience - Playing FFXI recently.

It was many years, and even a few MMOs played, before I ended up getting my paws on FFXI, thanks to Tilly at LoveTilly.com who decided to hop back into the game again after a long break. I joined her, and played on and off until very recently when I decided to give it a break due to lack of people to play. The MMO does still have a special place in my heart, though. It was my first exposure to MMOs, introduced me to the wonderful world of RPGs, and even sparked my first public blogging experience as I blogged about my XI antics.

What was your first MMO experience?
Let me know in the comments!

Life Lately (16/04/2014)

Life Lately (16/04/2014)

I have been really slacking on the blogging front lately, and I’m really sorry! Every evening has been super busy with the massive (and growing!) list of games I have to play and at the weekend I was away, so I’ve been a little bit absent and even missed my Screenshot Sundays. Whoops!

In gaming news, I’ve been playing EVE Online and got my main pilot (the pirate lady) back into high sec finally, after spending a rather large amount of ISK to get tags for security status. It was a pain in the ass, but it’s done now and I’m glad! Now I can travel through high sec without people (legally) being able to shoot me. This is great, as I can start doing missions again on her, and even start moving more freely around space to find a place to set up shop for our new piracy/PvP corp.

However the big gaming news, for me at least, is that my Free Company in FFXIV managed to down Turn 4 of Coil last night! For non FFXIV players, the Binding Coil of Bahamut (or Coil, for short) is the first “raid” players encounter, and is split into phases. Turn 4 has been giving us trouble, so it was exciting to down it last night three times, and even get my healing robe! A few of us got loot so it was definitely a great raid night. We do need to grow our FC a little as we’re struggling to get enough people together for events, but at least we have fun together.

As far as real life is concerned, I went to visit my family at the weekend as I needed to visit my family doctor. It was a great weekend; I picked up a wireless Xbox 360 controller/receiver combo for my PC (even though I already have two wireless controllers…finding a receiver was difficult!) and played a little bit of Dark Souls. My family and I went out for dinner on Sunday evening and my mum and I managed to squeeze in a coffee date before I left on Monday.

The big news is that I ordered my new PC! I’ll be sharing the specs and a review of the website I used to purchase it as soon as I receive my order, but it should be arriving this morning. I’m really excited; it’s a massive upgrade and has even encouraged us to make a better gaming space in our apartment, which will make me feel much more comfortable about streaming again. I will even be creating a better streaming schedule, especially now that I have a brand new and shiny webcam on its way too!

Just Sayin’: Hardcore Is Not Better Than Casual

Just Sayin': Hardcore is not better than casual. (Screenshot shows my raid group in FFXIV)

Hi, I have an unlimited amount of time to spend playing my MMO of choice, and I do so every day, every week. But my friend, who only plays two hours a night because of work, is able to get the same gear as me. This isn’t fair! He’s such a filthy casual, and him having the same gear as me completely diminishes my achievement!

This is something that has bothered me for years. I don’t consider myself a “casual”, however nowadays it seems that if you don’t invest your entire day in one game you no longer can call yourself a hardcore player. Hardcore has stopped meaning anything about skill or effort, and instead simply means, “I have more time to invest in the game than you do, therefore I am better than you.” Timecore, if you will.

Since when did gaming become about time/reward? Since when was it okay to exclude a huge proportion of the gaming community because they have to work to pay the bills and their subscription fee? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for telling people that they don’t deserve to get gear if they don’t put the effort in at all, or are mediocre as far as skill goes. I also don’t believe that a “casual” player should get the same amount of high level gear in the same timeframe as someone who puts in more time. That would be ridiculous! But why is someone with less time — not less desire, that’s different, I’d play my MMO of choice all day long if I could — worth less than a person who just happens to be free at this particular time in their life?

Let’s take a case study. Player A can play 12 hours a day. They clear all of the content available to them, and have a fully equipped character. Perhaps multiple characters/classes with the best gear available. They raid often. Then Player B comes along, can play for a few hours on a few days a week, but might have other commitments on other days. They are clearing the content, maybe they’ve dipped their toe in raiding and want to do more, and they’ve attained some pieces of the best gear available, but maybe they haven’t completed it.

Time and time again I see Player A complaining about Player B having access to the same items as them, like there’s some kind of time gate — if you play this many hours per week you can get gear, otherwise tough luck! I’ve even seen them say that Player B’s accomplishment takes away from theirs. How does this make sense? How does someone else receiving something, not even as much as you, take away from what you have worked hard to achieve? Is their work less valuable because they spread it out over a longer time?

Really, what I’m trying to say is: time invested is not a measure of skill. Don’t dismiss someone just because they play less often than you do.

Just sayin’…

Just Sayin’: Season Pass Makes No Sense

Just Sayin': Season Pass Makes No Sense.

What is a “Season Pass”? According to Wikipedia, a Season Pass is “a ticket allowing admission to an attraction multiple times during a certain period (a “season”), often a year or the duration of a sports or performance season,” or, in the world of gaming, “a special purchase available for certain video games, which typically allows the owner access to some or all future DLC for the game for a one-time fee.”

I’m here to say that I think using the term “Season Pass” to refer to DLC content for a video game makes no sense. How do the two ideas above link to one another in any way? The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that occasionally a video game’s Season Pass will allow players access to all DLC released during a period of time, however here are the problems with that idea:

» There is no such thing as a “Season” unless we are talking about esports/competitive gaming, which DLCs are generally not a part of.

» A Season Pass in sports allows “admission to an attraction multiple times during a certain period”, implying that admission is limited, which it isn’t when a gamer purchases a “Season Pass” for video game DLCs.

» From time to time, a Season Pass will allow players access to all future DLC, in which case it’s not really a Season Pass any more, is it?

Most importantly, perhaps, it’s not very representative of the gaming community as a whole. The vast majority of gamers are outside the US — purely because it’s only one region out of many — and Season Passes are something that exist primarily in the US and aren’t very well known in other regions. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t cater to American gamers, but wouldn’t it make more sense to make these “Passes” more relevant to the global community, rather than just to an arguably small subset of that community? I honestly had to look up what the heck a Season Pass was, and was under the impression that it was going to allow me access to certain content for a limited period of time based on the confusing name. Either way, it didn’t sound appealing, and unsurprisingly I haven’t bothered buying a Season Pass yet.

So, unpopular opinion time: Season Pass is a stupid title for DLCs. Let’s come up with something better, please.

Just sayin’…

Just Sayin’: Early Access Sucks

Just Sayin': Early Access Sucks

Hi guys! I’d really like you to read my blog post about why Early Access sucks, but it’s not quite finished yet. So for the low, low price of my hosting costs, you get to read this post before anyone else! Aren’t I generous?

No, for real though. Something that’s been grinding my gears for some time is this Early Access phenomenon. Back towards the end of 2013, a few games were announced, primarily on Steam, and were marketed as “Early Access.” Just like Minecraft; remember that? Before we gave Notch all of our money? It was cool. Really, it was. A game goes on Kickstarter, people get to show their faith in the developer and help fund the development costs of the game. Miss the campaign? No problem, you can pick it up in early access, possibly for more than the Kickstarter pledges cost, and still join in with the early adopters. I struggled a bit with games like Planetary Annihilation that were charging what I thought was an extortionate amount, but fans explained the reasoning and I got off my soap box.

Then we entered 2014: arguably the year of the Early Access. Not a day goes by that I don’t see a new game pop up on Steam, advertised as “Early Access.” Many of these games are incredibly, awfully broken, and use the Early Access stick to beat you away with your complaints. Most of them would probably be better suited to the title of, I don’t know…”beta”? Maybe even “alpha”, at some points. At this point, it’s becoming an invitation to pay to test a game that simply isn’t complete.

So what, I hear you say? I want the game now, and I’m willing to pay! Who are you to tell me what to do with my money? Remember Cube World? I paid for the “Early Access.” I played, and it was buggy. But that’s okay, they’ll fix it, right? Nope. The developer decided he wasn’t going to bother communicating with the community any more, and seemingly all but ran off with the money, with a few token tweets here and there after people begged him to come back. I’m not sure where that game is as far as development is concerned. To tell you the truth, I lost faith in the devs after they buggered off with not a word and only a broken game in their legacy.

Early Access genuinely did mean something. Now, it’s just an easy way out for developers. I’m not saying stop supporting indie studios, far from it. I know someone who is currently one-man-army’ing his own games engine and first video game. I think supporting indie studios is the way forward. But can we just start calling it like it is? Beta testing was honest, it was fun, and it was a free way for people to test your game and give you valuable feedback. Charging for that feedback feels cheap.

Just sayin’…

Screenshot Sunday #9

I’m going to interrupt the holy ritual of a wordless Screenshot Sunday to say first of all, I’m sorry for my lack of posts this week! Secondly, I am deeply invested in Final Fantasy XIV hence the multitude of screenshots you keep seeing from it. And finally, only one screenshot this week as I’ve been crazy busy with work and super tired when I get home! Hope you’ve all had more gaming this week than I have. I’ll be making up for it next week!

SCREENSHOT SUNDAY: Final Fantasy XIV - Just giving someone the sideeye in Crystal Tower.

Happy Sunday!
What have you been playing this week?

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!