Author Archive

I got portals in my portals, man.

Since finishing Batman: Arkham Asylum, and starting the slow, arduous work of getting Final Fantasy XIII back to where I’d been before the burglary last year, the husband and I have talked it over, scraped up some savings, and managed to afford (thanks to the great 2fer deal on Steam) Portal 2. Let me tell you that I’m excited!

What I’m more excited about is that I’ve got two copies of Portal to give to some lucky Steam users! Yes, two free copies of Portal, in case you missed that particular bus full of GLaDOS driven awesome. If you’re that person, I need to know. If you know that person, I might also need to know. At the very least, I need a couple of Steam IDs to hand these copies of Portal too. If I get more then two (and as I will be putting this out on a couple of social networks, that’s highly likely) the lucky folks will be chosen at random and contacted on Steam, by me, with a friends request for their copy of Portal. (That would be ‘AlmostAMurder’ on Steam, in case you didn’t know.)

So, let the ‘me, me, oh me! i want it!’ begin.

~Amanda

Editing for great update: As of April 14th, one of these copies of Portal has been claimed. Apparently the rest of you cool gamer cats got on the ball and got this with the Orange Box back in the day. But if there’s someone out there who wants to join us cool kids with our portals, there’s still one copy left… If you have Steam, anyway.


This Ain’t No Place For A Hero

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you: I like Batman. Now, I’m not a slavish devotee and I’ve been more interested in one-shot stories or graphic collections then I’ve ever been in the recurring tales, and I’ve been a fan of (most) of the movies about him. (I’m a slave to the Mirage TMNT comics and some of the derivative works, but that’s a whole other blog post.)

But hot damn, Arkham Asylum’s followup, Arkham City, pretty much pushes all of my ‘dribbly brained fangirl’ buttons. Sure, it’s going to probably be Same Bat Game, Same Bat Play, but I’m okay with that. If you build a winner, you should probably work on that winner and make it more shiny, but don’t remove what MAKES it a winner. We’ll see if this sequel can carry on it’s predecessor’s legacy — I’m not sure we want it to move into ‘chain’ territory (that was lies the path of suck) but it certainly does look like the first game grew up and go more of those wonderful toys…

Sad fact: I own and have only barely played Arkham Asylum. Hey! Something else to do while unemployed — get Arkham Asylum wrapped up while I get a new job and finish school! The trailer’s the perfect inspiration!

Anyway, I’m just gonna leave this shiny thing here. Isn’t it pretty?

~Amanda


Things to do in gaming when you’re unemployed

Yes, folks. Unemployment has reached out and grabbed me like it grabbed so many Americans. So how does the gamer cope when one’s funds are at a stranglehold?

The gamer does DLC, MMOs, and goes back to old games unfinished. For me, that means: World of Warcraft (50cents a day for one account, people, you don’t get cheaper entertainment then this), Red Dead Redemption, Final Fantasy XIII, Little Big Planet, Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout: New Vegas, and wrapping up the last missions of Mass Effect. So, seriously? Not going to be hurting for keeping myself occupied into the wee hours while I wait for the phone to ring or my unemployment check to hit.

Ironically, I had just bought the Dead Money DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, and loved almost every minute, except for that cheese-ass fight at the end and the race against the clock, which I did not love at all, and which is why I stopped playing it for a while. I have a ton of unfinished or unplayed DLC for Dragon Age. Hell, I think I still have unfinished DLC for Fallout 3.

All of these were pretty cheap, and they provide me with several hours of entertainment. But nothing, nothing beats an MMO subscription. With the average cost about $15 a month, that’s a pretty good per-day cost. Now, not everybody will consider keeping their internet as a non-luxury, but around here if you want to job search without trucking to the library (with gas prices rising, also a craptastic option) you’re going to keep your internet, and cut just about everything else.

Tabletop gaming also remains free, so long as you have the books or can find them on the internet for cheap, or whatever. PDF downloads can be cheap or free, depending on the company, and hey, you just need some pals and some dice.

So I think I’ve got enough to keep me relatively entertained between waiting for rejection letters and interview calls. Here’s hoping I’m not unemployed long enough to finish playing them all, though. That would be quite some time to be unemployed.

~Amanda


Things have died. I was not one of them.

It has been months, Femme Gamers, and for that, I am shamed. I wish I had an excuse — and maybe I do. Work, school, husband, new dog, novel. Those are a long list of things. But it’s not like gaming stopped for me, and thus, I should have kept up here. I mean, there’s a lot of things going here, both good and bad.

In September, the Local Anime Con – which I will not name, because I hate the club behind it and will quicker cut my own throat then give those people free press – put our lives on hold, as it does every year. Most of our gaming group is involved in this and it’s yet another reason I hate it’s very existence. Most of the group goes on an anime-infused exodus to other cons, write what they like about the other cons, and then attempt to apply it to their current local anime con that has a completely different social demographic in another state, with complete lack of success that accompanies taking the science behind bananas and attempting to apply it to pork products.

It also puts our gaming on hold for several weeks, as they apply their weekends to meetings, dinners, and the inherent drama that the con is soaked with. It’s all they talk about. It’s all they can afford to deal with. Let me tell you, gentle reader, that this fucking sucks.

During this time we had three games; Shadowrun, which my husband GM’s, Witchfire, an Iron Kingdoms campaign which my ex-boyfriend (but still pal) runs, and Murderous Hobos, another Iron Kingdoms game which a friend of ours runs. The husband and I are not involved in the con, but the ex and the pal definitely are.

Shadowrun does not go on hold. Hobos does go on hold, for the holidays. The ex puts his game on indefinite hiatus with plans to return to the game after the holidays. Life goes on – drama occurs, the con occurs, holidays occur. Games get put on brief holiday holds, but resume. Our friend has some family issues — an illness with his mother — that complicates his life, but she turns out okay (for which we are all grateful) and life goes on.

The ex never picks up his game. We merrily go along for the next few months, up until February, doing the every-other-weekend games. I game Shadowrun one Saturday, make dinner,and have a good old time. The husband goes to play in the Murderous Hobo game on the other Saturday and HE has a good old time. Good ol’ times are had.

In the interim of missing tabletop games, I play a ton of video games when I have the time; bitterness over the theft of my PS3 and all the time I invested in the games on it, now lost – Folklore, Final Fantasy XIII, Red Dead Redemption, and so forth – have made me bitter about trying to return to them, and while I have picked up each one a few times, I have not gotten near to the completion I had when the systems were stolen. I don’t think I can be blamed for this, but I know I ought to build a bridge and get over it, proverbially speaking.

However, all is not lost: I’m loving Fallout: New Vegas and I got into Mass Effect (finally) and while I watch for Dragon Age 2 with trepidation. I’m not going to be a first day buyer on that one – Mass Effect’s control scheme on PC doesn’t thrill me and I don’t really want a sword & sorcery overlay just because Bioware’s lazy and wants to cash in on their RPG epic the ‘fast and easy’ way by just producing a fantasy Mass Effect clone. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm drops and that’s a whole other post in itself, folks. Another time.

Life settle into a routine. Slowly, as it often happens, discussions crop up about starting a new Friday Game. Witchfire is never mentioned. The ex begins designing a new game sort– very skeletal, very much trying to not be ‘main stream fantasy’. (He’s quite the rebel, my ex. Ask anybody – cue eye roll, here.) He does nothing with it, but talks about running it for a while. Another player in our game goes back to talking about running another, long-dead campaign that quite frankly, nobody really wants to play. All of his games go that way, I’m sad to say, and the group keeps dodging his games – but he still occasionally puts them out as an option. He gets points for perseverance, at least.

Finally, the ex announces last week he’s going to run the ‘new’ world he’s built up– he’s going to have us make characters and let us define our characters WHOLE COUNTRIES and CULTURES and fit them into his ‘existing’ game world, with a few provisos (he has things to say about certain races — things that break them from ‘mainstream fantasy’, of course). He just wants to experiment, he says. Try something new, he says.

So, last weekend, I talk to him over IM about my feelings and thoughts on the matter; I have wanted to return to our past campaign and finish it. Our players are all happy to do so, even though he claims everyone is ‘ambiguous’ or ‘non-committal’; I know both my husband and I want to finish the game, and the others are happy so long as there is dice involved, really. He promises me that come next Friday, we’ll all get together and talk about returning to Witchfire or starting the new, so he’d know what everybody wanted.

Well, let me tell you, friends, that when I walked in on Friday night and found them all building characters for the new game – that he’d been working with the other players for a week, including my husband, on new classes and cultures to cram into the Pathfinder system, I was pretty pissed off. This is not the first time he’s lied to me about following through – there’s a reason he got dumped six years ago, and shit like this factors into it – and spend the rest of the night angry. Everybody rolls up new characters, and I beg off with lack of inspiration.

Later, my husband asks me why I can’t just go along to get along — I say I’m tired of putting up with this shit with the ex; this is part of why he got dumped and it’s tiring of having some of our social life continue to hinge on this person’s inability to commit to anything. I’m not the only one who feels this way– the guys are tired of him saying he’ll do things, but being men, they tend to simply let it roll, because half of them live with them, and none of them are particularly inclined to rock the boat. Also, it’s partially our damage and history together; I won’t lie, it’s a factor.

So, gentle readers: I know when I tell him I’m not going to join his game, there’s going to be drama. If I ‘go along to get along’ my lack of enjoyment and lack of giving a damn about this shitty idea that he’ll drop in less than two months will also cause drama. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

So, do I go full damned and let him just how hard he can fuck himself, or do I attempt some sort of politically correct, “Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me,” which is only half true. A lot of this, very much, is him. But no amount of telling him this — even dumping him over his inability to follow through on anything, including our engagement – has ever made him change, and this sure won’t either.

Damned either way.

~Amanda


In Defense Of Offense

Apparently, a lot of people are angry that Penny Arcade did a comic where a slave is being beaten in the morning and raped to sleep by dickwolves, while an uncaring Worgen disdains to do anything about it. The comic’s a comment on questing apathy– if you’re really a hero, wouldn’t you empty those caverns? No; to this worgen hero, everyone important has been accounted for, since he’s got that ‘quest complete’ ready to turn in. What matters is you’re one bubble closer to ding, because you don’t really have to think about how you’d act if you were the prospective liberator of brutally abused slave.

This is a comment about the way MMOs work and how the immersion fails and game mechanics take over. The flavor text–that the slave is being beaten and raped — is just that, flavor. It’s to give an idea that the Worgen’s callous, and the slave is in need. The Worgen is laughable, stripped of nobility because of his actions — reduced from heroic action figure to simply a player in a wolfskin trying to play at hero when he’s probably just as apathetic in real life. Maybe, though, I’m reading too much into it. It’s a three panel comic, after all, not Tolstoy. (I have, I note, read Tolstoy. Just for the curious.)

People are reading too much into it; just as I suggest meaning and symbolism into this three panel comic, some people are just going all out here. People are sending the boys at PA hate mail. Some guy is eBaying all his PA stuff–signed books!– off and promising the proceeds go to charity. Feminist blogsare getting up in arms.

This should, after all, be a day in the life of Penny Arcade. After all, you don’t rise this high without occasionally stepping on someone on the way up.

What I don’t understand is two things:

A: Why, if you read Penny Arcade, why THIS particular comic offended you that you read the comic at all, because there’s been much worse and,

B: Why the PA Team sunk to the slightly more verbose 4Chan-esque ‘U Mad’ rape joke defense.

In response to A — you have the right to be offended. You have the right to be offended by anything you like, and do whatever is legally appropriate in response to it, whether it’s blogging about it, selling your stuff and forwarding the proceeds to an anti-rape charity, writing to the authors of the comic to let them know you’re displeased, and generally whatever it is you need to do personally. If it makes you feel better to voice your displeasure, by all means, exercise that right! It IS your right to express yourself in a way that communicates your point across. (You don’t have the right to threaten a cartoonist, or set fire to anything, though- – so please don’t carry this to an extreme.)

However, they have the right to offend you. Their speech is protected, just like your letter of complaint is. Is this part of rape culture, as some might suggest? Yes, possibly. Does Penny Arcade engage in some level of rape culture? Yes, though they often mock it as much as they mock anything else. This doesn’t get them off the hook — and their less then adequate rebuttal to their dickwolf faux pas doesn’t excuse that they engage in something that isn’t funny to a lot of people.

But nothing is sacred in comedy. We see our sacred cows — whether they be of suvivorhood or religion or political affiliation — sacrificed on the alter of comedy on a daily basis. Somewhere, someone is mocking you or something you love, endure, or are passionate about. That is the nature of life, at all times, everywhere. There are no exceptions. Your personal tragedy is someone’s laugh track. So I expect Penny Arcade to keep doing what it’s doing — comedy, often at the expense of others.

However, in response to B: I expected better. I expected Penny Arcade’s team to let this roll off their proverbial backs like juice off the Fruit Fucker’s glistening spout, and let it go. The smarmy response was unneeded and just as callous as their worgen ‘hero’. While I understand why they’re defensive, it doesn’t actually help them. It simply makes them look like defensive teenagers trying to justify why they just called Jeremy a flaming faggot because he has lisp. It doesn’t actually clear them of anything, and it is not at all an apology. It’s just another rape joke. They’re not going to stop making them, and they’re not going to worry that they offended a reader. After all, if you’ve been reading the comic, offense is their stock in trade a lot of the time. For all that they’re philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and yes, gamer nerds — they’re still human beings. Human beings who have never had to grow up past the base gamer humor that they perpetrate — the same humor that pays for their charities and other ventures.

So, they have the right to offend you, and this right to offend you goes only so far as you will let them. Do you want to rock the boat? Vote with your dollars and clicks. Don’t go to their site. Don’t write about them. Don’t acknowledge their comic. Because it’s just a comic. A comic that started a small empire, but still a comic. Low hanging fruit is just that, and most of the people who are engaging Penny Arcade over this could probably do better with their time.

All in all, this is a minor incident. Neither Mike nor Jerry condone or encourage rape. Do they participate in rape culture? Debatable, but probably on some degree– because American culture is STEEPED with it. Should you START with Penny Arcade? No. If the cultural shift happens, it won’t START at a comic, but it will be REFLECTED in a comic.

So aim higher, activists. Aim a lot higher.


My gaming is complete again

The last console was replaced today; a new glossy black Wii has now joined the PS3; the last of the insurance money is spent, and most everything we can replace, has been. Tomorrow my husband starts calling the alarm people and we further protect our home. But now we’re basically back to where we were before (with a few missing games still missing) and getting back on our feet.

So far, games are the the only things not 100% replaces. I’ve replaced several of the games — mostly PS3 — and am now working on the Wii games. We also addde two new titles, though bundles or just want. Little Big Planet came with the bundle of the new PS3 we god, and since we got the Wii today, the husband and I picked up what we jokingly call ‘Divorce: The Game’, and plan on getting more multi-player fun on now that we’ve beaten the terribly disappointing Borderlands… though we do have the DLCs to get through as well; I’m not sure how that all shakes out, though, so we’ll go through that as we get time and inclination.

One thing Borderlands did give us, beyond some bitchin’ tunes (Champion’s No Heaven was really the only thing that made beating the game worthwhile) was the knowledge that we make a good team with flush and snipe. He gets them moving, I pop the skulls. I do enjoy the power of a good headshot.

I think we might be getting back to normal. I’m looking forward to it. Now if we could only hammer out some of the tabletop kinks — which should happen this weekend. If not, well ladies– you’ll hear all about the drama at the table over the last two weeks. Heck, you may hear about it anyway.


If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

The gaming at my house hasn’t been all that great at my house in the last month or so — we’ve been a little pressed with home repair, dealing with insurance, firing our insurance agent and starting the hunt for another insurance agent, and oh, researching a good breeder to buy a dog.

But the last week, we decided we’d get a new game. Or rather, I decided that the husband and I were getting a new game, because it was on sale on Steam; $40 bucks got us both the game, and all the DLC available for Borderlands. It was a clumsy game, but honestly, the weekend of the fourth of July was the happiest we’d been in weeks.

It’d been hard to face facts, but now we broke down and handled things. I ordered a new — bigger and better! — laptop from Dell. We are making a game plan on how to replace the electronics and in what order of priority. (Camera, PS3, Wii, games, etc.) As well as what we’re not replacing, and instead putting the money ito a Puppy Fund. Tabletop gaming is getting back to normal as well — we’d not exactly been shining there, either as hosts or as players — and so life seems to be returning to it’s pre-burglary state slowly.

But then Blizzard came and crapped on my pancakes.

RealID. It’s a bad idea. 4chan, bless it’s soul, easily illustrated why it’s a bad idea– especially for women who game. The general idea is to strip away the veil of anonymity, face John Gabriel’s Internet Fuckwad Theory head on and strip away the anonymity that trolls use to protect themselves.

Only we know that’s not the case. Trolls are going to be trolls no matter what light you shine under their bridge. What they are opening us up to is new levels of harassment, especially for women, transsexual and other ‘unprotected’ classes of people… and even the average dominant white male who didn’t’ know the douche bag who he denied entrance to his guild was mentally unstable enough to hit Spokeo and see what info they could dig up to hurt someone with later. People do crazy things. Gamers, sadly, attract more then their fair share of people who cannot cope with reality and use games to escape it. It’s simply a fact of the fandom, as it were.

It’s pretty scary what you can dig up with a name and an email. I’m not saying how much of my information is in that thing, but it was enough to make me squirm a bit. One of the Blizzard blues found out the hard way when he put out his name to prove it was ‘safe’ and then had his phone number, home address, parent’s home address, Facebook, and other pertinent information all linked within seconds.

So, ladies: What are we going to do about it? Take it passively as our rights to privacy are stripped? Walk with our money to a new game? Scream into the void until something is done? I’m honestly not sure yet — I really like my game, and the people I play with. I don’t want to try and build the relationships I’ve made OR endure the learning curve. I’ve played WoW for 5 years and never, ever missed a payment or taken a break.

But there might be a time for it. This might be that time.


Grand Theft Everything Electronic: My House Edition

We were robbed today. PS3, Wii, digital camera, brand new laptop — all gone. Beware, geeks! You are the target of the money hungry and the criminal! They don’t care about you or how you were finally getting the hand of Red Dead Redemption. They care about their meth habit. At least, that’s what they care about around here. Your mileage may vary.

The theft occurred in broad day light at our home. They kicked in the door, ransacked the place, but only took the small electronics — left our thousand dollar television, which was nice of them I guess. (Or they couldn’t stuff it in a bag to manage.) This leads the police to believe it was only one guy. It doesn’t matter though — the house looks like an army went through it, sacking and pillaging like Vikings.

Right now I’m sort of in shock. I’ve activated LoJack for Laptops which I hope will help in the retrieval process, but who knows what happens next.

Ladies: Keep your serial numbers. Mark your goods. If they turn up at the pawn shops, find them, report them! Hopefully, my attempts at protecting my laptop via software and so forth will bring some of our things home. At this point, however, it’s only waiting.

It’s not a happy wait, either.


Dragon Age: Barely Awake…

So I finally got around to finishing up Dragon Age: Origins – Awakenings. (Or however they want to juggle those words). I have to say that was the most expensive DLC in history and the least enjoyable.

I finished in under 20 hours of game play. I pursued most of the side quests, but not all. The lack of character interaction was really a killer for the enjoyment factor – it took all the fun and light ‘between quest’ time out of the game, which was a factor that had really made it for me previously.

What I did like is that the ending ‘story’ did factor in my character’s past — she returns to her beloved Alister and life for her goes on. I just wish that it hadn’t had to go through this really crappy expansion for her to get this apparent storybook ending. But hey, the first game resounded with the themes of war and sacrifice and Awakenings… well, Awakenings didn’t resound with much of anything. It wasn’t a trumpet of a game, it was more like a slide whistle.

Either way, it was okay game play– just repetitive and boring quests with no fun times at camp to spice things up. The characters they created were pretty flat, and didn’t get any more three dimensional because there was simply no way to interact with them beyond a scant cutscene here or there for questlines. It simply wasn’t that fun. A five out of ten at most — mediocre might be an excellent description.

I’m also stymied in FFXIII, which I’ve actually begun to enjoy now — but have hit a boss battle I just can’t seem to quite conquer. It’s the Doom status in the final phase and the reset of the Stagger bar. It’s just not fair, I tell you. If we can’t Stagger the bugger and we’re suddenly on a time limit and can’t remove Doom, THEN what, huh?

Ah well; the weekend has been full of dissatisfaction. Lackluster games, the weekend tabletop game canceled — how has YOUR gaming gone this week? Got that achievement? Rocked that boss? Leveled up?


They can be taught!

So we’ve been continuing the battle of the the better meal at my house, and so far we only have one major hold out — our ‘problem’ player who only plays sociopaths and installs and plays games while we’re around the gaming table and almost never arrives on time for anything (which is a big problem when he’s driving other players).

It seems that sending out an email a day before announcing what food we’re making and leaving it at that has gotten most of of them on board. Several have asked for use of the kitchen to start making food as well, and in two weeks one of our players will be making dinner with my blessing in my kitchen. Two others have volunteered, and we’re working on a potluck style dinner every two weeks.

I’m hoping this will stick, as well as make them feel ‘invested’ as opposed to being ‘mothered’. Either way, I’m pleased with the step in the right direction. The last two games we’ve done well– two weeks ago there were no left overs, and last night the root vegetable and beef stew that was prepared got rave reviews from our gaming group (the meat was so tender it fell apart in the pot!) and made me bless my crock pot… I look forward to eating the leftovers tomorrow at work for lunch!


Multipass!

The computer is your gateway to new and exciting people! Yes, some may be sociopaths or pedophiles, and some of them are simply dicks. But still, what would the world be without people?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

I like to play with people. I like cooperative games a lot more then I like competitive games. I enjoy being a story with fellow players in my tabletop games, and I enjoy smokin’ a Spitter before she vomits all over my team mates in my newly discovered love for Left 4 Dead (1 or 2, they’re all awesome.) I enjoy it. I enjoy the broader (and usually older) community on PC connections then I do on say, XBox — in fact, XBox Live is a reason we chose to go PS3 instead of XBox (along with the Red Ring of Death, general catalog being superior on PC, etc). It’s got a bad reputation. I just wasn’t interested in dealing with it. So the computer is my box of choice. I prefer single or dual player on console, and I enjoy a broad range of games from puzzlers to shooters on my PC.

And now I’m using it as a Tabletop aid. A friend of mine, who I have known for going on ten years now, used to run a tabletop Exalted (2nd edition, for the curious) game online as his regular gaming group spread over several states. They added a few other friends, and wa-la! They used Google Wave as their first tool for it’s ease of sharing documents and having a ‘bot’ dice roller you can ‘invite’ your group communications. (This is still how they do dicerolling.) But to expedite the communications process, they set up a group Skype and now we all spend 2-3 hours voice-gaming over the internet.

So now I have a new Thursdays group, and I look forward to seeing how this works. I’ve been gaming — roleplaying specifically — since I was about eleven years old. I am now thirty-two. This is two decades of gaming books, and if I wasn’t ashamed of it’s well loved, tattered shape I would photograph the first gaming book I ever bought — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Fangirl? Yes. Do I care? No. I’ve done statted, non stated, consent-based, ICC=ICA, you name it, I’ve played it across various platforms and tools. But I think, after the laughs shared over Skype Thursday night, this should be a fun experience if my schedule allows me to keep up with it.

In the other end of the spectrum, I’ve found the cooperative campaigns of Left 4 Dead to be highly rewarding with good pals, some laughs, and even getting the husband involved. I bought both games while they were on sale on Steam after The Passing DLC had become available. It lead to a lot of fun times with friends, and I eventually convinced my husband to get it. We did some with friends and some friends-and-bots campaigns, and enjoyed every minute of it. He’s a little frustrated with some of the gameplay elements, but I think it’s all part of the fun. I’m on Steam if anybody wants to give it a crack, and welcome others into my gameplaying circle. Just be aware I tend to have friendly fire accidents. Shooters are not normally my usual choice for gaming, but I’m getting much better with them!


The Care and Feeding of Your Gaming Group

I like to cook.

Scratch that. I like to cook a lot. I like to cook big meals to boot. I like to cook all sorts of things. I love Asian flavors specifically but I branch out whenever possible. I own several cookbooks, and I recently upgraded my kitchen appliances with the same passion I applied to choosing the new video card and monitor for my computer.

This becomes a problem. When we used to run a different game at my place, I cooked before every game. Apparently this didn’t fly with my gaming group. They actively resented my good-deeds (that I did without being asked, happily and without complaint) and when that game closed, these players said straight out said to my then-boyfriend-later-husband that they would no longer game at my house because I ‘forced’ them to eat.

Note that they couldn’t tell this to me. I was intensely offended when I was told about this exchange months later, but nobody apologized or even acknowledged that I was aware of this rudeness. Life goes on, though. My husband and I married, and his house and my house became the same house. He was running his Shadowrun game, and by God, he was running it in his own home. When he moved, the game moved. Nobody could argue with that logic — he wasn’t carting his books across the valley just because they didn’t want to be inconvenienced with my hostessing.

So the snubbing began. I’d let them know that I was preparing a large meal and they were welcome to join. They’d arrive, maybe one would partake but the rest would feed themselves before or after the game rather then take my freely offered, no strings attached food. No money or supplies were requested. They brought drinks and snacks of their own volition. But my efforts were routinely snubbed, to the point that they’d show up late after eating out and a top it, brought desert from a restaurant despite that I had made a full meal and desert for them and told them ahead of time I was doing so.

I very nearly threw them out that night, but behaved myself as best I could in the face of this insult. However, this is pretty much the only gaming group we have, and so we put up with these sorts of shenanigans and blatant disrespect. It was things like that that we had to warn folks about when our newest player asked about joining our group. They had decided they didn’t want to play at a decent hour, they wanted to come over at 10:30. They didn’t want to eat with us. They basically wanted to do things only on their time schedule, at their whim, and nothing else.

Our new player, however, has none of these bad habits. He is courteous, gracious and a very genteel man. We had him and his girlfriend over for pre-game dinner, and enjoyed ourselves. When I mention I’d like to make something, he’s the first to volunteer a side. His presence is actually a moderating influence, it seems, on some of the bad habits of our gaming group. This week when I said that I’d be making shrimp creole before game, they were all quick to let me know they’d be happy eat with us and brought sodas. I admit, we also used his schedule– and our need to take him home as he and his girlfriend only have one car– to leverage an earlier starting time! Yes, the GAME MASTER had to leverage against his own player group, because they had decided that starting at 10 was what they did for all the other games, and they’d do it for this one, regardless of what he wanted.

This means I’m very grateful for our new player, and enjoy his presence for more then just what he brings to the table not only as a player but as a nice person and a calming presence. I am also pleasantly surprised that being ‘good’ in front of the newbie has made them less of a pack of dicks. I mean, it’s not all that bad. We wouldn’t hang out with them if they didn’t have redeeming qualities. It just seems that a lot of the time, they’re just Big Boys who don’t want a Mommy, and I suppose that’s what they see my efforts to feed them as, though I can’t imagine why– I’m hardly matronly.

But I like to cook, and I like to game, and I don’t see why the two shouldn’t meet regularly. I don’t try and cook for game that’s not at my house — so why should sitting down for a meal with friends and then grabbing the dice bags be such a crime?

Boys. Can’t live with ’em, can’t feed ’em. What can you do with ’em?


The week (and then some) in review

Things have been hectic here; we picked up Final Fantasy XIII (gorgeous, but I have a lot of gameplay complaints that can really be summed up in Penny Arcade form), bought and beat (with an Angel of Death score) the Chaos Rising expansion for Dawn of War II, and also picked up a new monitor that is lovely and really makes gaming easier on the eyes. A 23″ Samsung LED that’s crisp, bright, and was a little over my budget but so worth it. We also had tabletop last Friday, and will have the alternate game this Saturday (Iron Kingdoms and Shadowrun, respectively; Paladin of Menoth and Wolf Shaman, for the curious), but there’s nothing really exciting to report on that just yet.

Right now work – or more appropriately — the husband’s work — is eating what couple time my husband and I find together, so I got a lot of gaming done this week. I’ve knocked off some hours of FFXIII, and I finally got my Shaman to ding 80 and then ran a ton of 80 Regular Instances (ICC 5’s and ToC) to get her some gear and prepare her for the heroic’s grind…. which I already do with a Protection Warrior, Holy Priest, Hunter, Warlock and the Death Knight I almost never play. I mentioned sixth eighty, right?

However, Twitter has brought a gem to my door; the local Big Boy Nerds, the The Geek Show, is produced by Zack Shutt. He’s put out a call for at least one people-person geek and web developers. As the former and not the latter, I don’t expect to make the grade on his new project and get a job with him, but I am curious and I figured, what the hell. So I’ve DM’d him and we’ll see what happens there. I can’t say I’m unhappy with my current job– but I’m not happy there, either (and I am often situationally unhappy there, but that’s another story for another time).

I hope to find some time to write about the two latest expansions I dealt with: Dawn of War II’s Chaos Rising and Dragon Age: Awakenings, but I’ll save that for the weekend, I think. I’m told it’s All Hands so I’ll have a lot of free time without the husband.


Shadowrun with a new player

We added a player to our Shadowrun game this weekend; a friend who had migrated from out of state to be with his long distance lady that I knew from a forum or two. They both came over early, had dinner with my husband and I, and we got to know them a little better. We’d met the player before, but this was the first time interacting with them as a couple, which is sort of important to us as we have few married or otherwise committed friends who share our interests and are tolerable human beings; we know other married¬† or ‘serious’ geek couples, but they tend to be the worst kind that gravitate to each other and make each other worse, not better.

The lady was something of a geek herself, but she is low key and not very active. She’d gamed with her significant other but not much else, and had neither the time or really the enthusiasm to join the game, so she simply came to dinner to meet and greet her boyfriend’s friends. This bodes well for him — it means she’s willing to let him have his life and she have hers separate from each other when need be, but doesn’t talk down to us or to him for these nerdy interests.

So we had a nice, home cooked meal (I prepared lemon chicken with sweet and sour stir fried turnips and carrots), talked extensively about life and work and nerdness, and little before game was about to start, she excused herself and went her way.¬† We helped him finish his character while we waited for the others to show up at our new time (eight o’clock) and settled in for what turned out to be a very productive game.

I think our new friend will work out well with us. He kept up with our jokes, tolerated that most of the group brought laptops and set them up (we have a very tech heavy group — and many use netbooks to handle character information and/or sourcebooks) and I think both starting earlier and adding a new player helped them be more alert and on better behaviour in general. We’ve had problems with the computers being a distraction in the past (and I should never have given them the code to my wireless router) but we’ve all had our distraction slip-ups.

Our new player kept up, RPed accordingly and while he’s a very straight-laced character in a group that’s a little wild, I think things will work out okay. We made our pick up, headed out and had a stop off in Salish country (for those who have an idea of what that means) and then found our that our Rigger pilot got hijacked while in a deal and half our cargo was being demanded as tribute. We don’t even know what the cargo IS; it’s in a briefcase that’s attached to the write of a young elf Rat Shaman on his vision quest — a total non-combatant! We don’t have the key to the cuffs, to the briefcase, nothing.

It’s gonna be a very interesting session! We’ll be playing again in two weeks – next week is our Iron Kingdoms game. Our new player won’t be in that game (it’s too established to really bring anybody new in) but I think once it’s wrapped we’ll be able to integrate him more thoroughly into our other games if he decides he wants to.


Little by little, we improve the rig.

Yesterday two things happened: our new, fresh blood for the Shadowrun game my husband runs arrived at my house to work on his character, and so did my new ATI 5770 card as well as my stonky new headphones from Sound Blaster. The former was very quiet and my husband got off work late so we didn’t get much done — but there’ll be more on tabletop in the coming weekend. No, today’s post is about technology! Shiny, shiny technology.

I was nerd enough to take the plunge on the WoW headset. I didn’t do it just for the geek factor, though. No! I researched. I had originally been intending to buy a RAZER product, but while we’ve done well with Razer mice, the headphones came fairly poorly reviewed, especially in the range I was looking at (around $70). The mic break and there were a lot of failed headsets within the first six months of use. So I looked up some other headsets and found that the headphones were fairly well rated and I decided ‘what the hell’. Why not.

I could not be happier with these babies, let me tell you. They’re large, and encompass my whole ear, but don’t GRAB my tiny little head like it’s in a vice. It’s comfortable even with my glasses on. I have some complaints with the mic position, but the noise canceling works; I popped on to an allied guild’s vent, said hello to some friends and talked with them for a while in a way I could never have done before. The sound incoming was excellent and from all reports, the outgoing was also good, I was very clear. The THX and other items also really helps crisp up the sound, so if you have the urge to play with those, I assure you, this is not a bad buy!

Being a cord sound purist, though, I did not get the wireless ones. USB cable plugs right into the front of my box, I don’t have to fuss with unplugging my speakers, and BAM! I’m good to go. I’m pretty pleased with the purchase– we’ll see if they last. But honestly, after my last headset– that I could only wear without pain for about thirty minutes–it’s a really nice change.

The card is also very awesome; I now run WoW on max settings without any issues at all. In fact, it’s made play easier. I got popped into Heroic Halls of Reflection, which with it’s tight LOS mechanics, has always been a cluster of magical effects that choked my older card and caused lag issue. Not good when you’re on DPS, and death when you’re heals! But I ran it TWICE yesterday and not only did I get to really appreciate the gorgeous mist affect laying over the floor of the instance, but I didn’t have any graphic lag at all. We smoked both runs and I consider that card $120 well spent. I shortly booted up Dragon Age: Awakenings and gloried in the smoother movement, the prettier graphics (also at max!) and tonight, I’m probably going to buy the Dawn of War II pack off Steam (since my DoW2 is attatched to my husband’s Steam account, from when we were sharing one) and glory in commanding my tiny marines up close and personal.

The next purchase will be a new monitor. I’m eyeing a 22″ widescreen from Samsung; currently I’m running on a 19″ that’s about 3-4 years old, and it’s a little trooper. Not a single dead pixel! Samsung’s goods have really impressed me, so I will probably stick with them (or possibly go Toshiba; our TV is Toshiba and oh the prettiness when I pop in a PS2 or 3 game!)

Speaking of PS3 — I haven’t had time to pick up Heavy Rain again; the frustration lingers, and weirdly, I don’t like to play it alone. I like having my husband there to sort of ‘co-op’ it, with ‘look at that’, ‘X, X, HIT X!” and so forth. Maybe it’s beacuse I haven’t been on a console regularly in about a year and a half, and maybe because the game regularly creeps me out. I really do want to finish it. I think I’ll make it a priority over my four day birthday weekend when I’m home waiting for things.


One of a legion

Now that Donna’s announced us, we’re fit to TAKE OVER THE BL– I mean, introduce ourselves. I suppose that’s in order, isn’t it?

I’m Amanda. I turn thirty-two next week, (April 6th, exactly!) and I am a woman who has gamed since the Nintendo was widely accessible in homes. I have gamed all of my life. I have gamed with pencil and paper and I have gamed with and without dice. I have gamed with cards, books, discs, code wheels. You name it, I’ve at least handled it before if not played it once or twice. I might not have owned a copy, but I probably knew someone who did.

Right now I’ve got a PC set for mid-range gaming (with a new 5770 ATI Card shipping in to replace my old NVidia 8800 GT), a PS3, a Wii and A DS Lite, as well as an iPhone that I occasionally putter around on with a game or two when I don’t have anything better at hand.

More importantly I’m an avid tabletop gamer and that colors the sort of games I play. I enjoy RPGs, MMOs of many flavors (though currently I only play WoW). I’ve been rolling the dice since I was twelve, and there’s just no going back. I currently game with one group, though I had another that has gone on hiatus due to the recent marriage of our illustrious Dungeon Master, though apparently there are no plans to resume. I play in two campaigns currently; my husband’s Shadowrun game (Orc Shamans of wolf, represent) and in a friend’s D&D 3.5 Iron Kingdom’s game, wherein I play a young Paladin of Menoth (old faith, not the crazy new agers out in the desert) that alternate weekends.

I’m also a full time employed person type thing, and my business is something that people hate so I’m not going into the specifics. Rest assured, if I had to call you, it wasn’t a call you wanted most of the time. I am married and have only been married seven months (as of yesterday, actually) and my wonderful husband shares my gaming passion. I’m also an avid reader of both print and comics, love to write, and enjoy a passion for cooking! My posts will likely cover whatever game gripe or glory I have at the time, posts on the RPG of the hour, tabletop gaming politics and etiquette, and what married gamers are like between the dice and the consoles.

Also, I have cats. They may guest write. You never know.