I’ve become slightly sidetracked in Fallen London by trying to figure out the mysteries of Hunter’s Keep. I’m not sure if any followers are interested in FL, but I thought I’d post my notes as much to get them out of my head as anything. Heavy spoilers under the cut for all the Hunter’s Keep content, though nothing else.
Damn, now I need to get back into that. I have the bad habit of playing it in spurts of a few weeks then dropping it for a few months, so I’ve never gotten that far.
When I first found Dir en grey, I came to the realization that the technique of art really doesn’t matter as long as it’s done well. As much as people deride rap and hip-hop for not being music, I realized that I just probably hadn’t heard any particularly -good- hip-hop or rap. Well, now I can say that I have, because Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is seriously amazing.
Yes, Macklemore of Thrift Shop fame. I’m lucky that Cole linked me to some of his other songs, because otherwise I would have just past him over as merely a -admittedly amusing- joke song writer.
Listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAg3uMlNyHA
Seriously, chills up my spine.
So, throughout almost the entire break, I’ve been struggling to put down my thoughts on Mass Effect 3 (yeah, this blog is kinda getting flooded with Mass Effect, isn’t it). I’d rocketed past the 1,700 word mark and I still didn’t feel like I had written anything that was worth reading. I kept going back, finding more that I wanted to say, adding in more little moments that I loved and never actually finishing a thought. Reading it over again, after letting it sit for a week, made me realize something that would have helped so much when I was in high school.
I’m an essayist, not a reviewer.
Ever since I was in middle school, I thought I would be great at writing reviews. I tend to analyze and pick apart everything that I come into contact with, especially if I like it. I enjoy trying to take things apart, imagining how each element works together, figuring out why this part didn’t work at all, why this part made me cry etc. So, in just about every single newspaper club I’ve been in, I’d try to write reviews, but I’d fail horribly. I’d put down words, look at it, delete and start again, since nothing ever came out the way I wanted it to. Then, too frustrated to continue working on it, I’d end up submitting nothing, much to the chagrin of the people waiting for my articles.
However, revisiting this massive mess of incoherent ramblings made me realize that when I write, I’m never trying to give an overview in broad strokes; I’m actually trying to define what each moment meant to me and show everyone else exactly how it made me feel. So I never get anywhere trying to review a complete work because there’s too much that I want to talk about and I get frustrated when I casually mention a moment that I really liked and realize that I didn’t actually define it properly. Then I try to fix this problem, and my article blows up in my face, since detailing 50 hours of gameplay doesn’t exactly make for a reasonably sized review nor can it be accomplished in a reasonable span of time.
So, I should give up on trying the broad strokes approach when I actually have an emotional attachment to something, since seriously, that’s not what I actually want to do. I want to distill all the feels one moment at a time and make the reader understand why I loved it so much.
Now, it would have been nice if I had realized this sooner, when I actually could write for a school newspaper. :P
Procrastinating and thought I should just post this, as its been sitting in my drafts for ages. Probably should study some more stat…
My stomach felt like it was shriveling up into a tiny pit, a Singularity charge that pulled all my feelings of guilt into one, unbearable point. As I watched the Normandy fly off, I knew the expanding mushroom cloud behind the ship included the atomized remains of Ashley, and that it was all my fault. I made that call and there was no taking it back.
As the scene continued and I regained control over Shepard, this game just kept twisting that knife stuck in my gut. It wasn’t even as if I wasn’t expecting to have to sacrifice a team member; months before I even considered picking up Mass Effect, I had this moment spoiled courtesy of Tvtropes. I knew full well that I would have to pick between Ashley and Kaiden from the beginning of the game and before I even started playing, I knew I was going to pick Kaiden. It was a reasonable choice, as I was playing a female Shepard, and he was my only chance at completing a romance subplot. It helped that he did turn out to be a pretty nice character, so I did genuinely like him and I wasn’t stuck with Bastila from KOTOR or something.
So I went into Virmire knowing that this was it, this was where I’d have to make The Choice. And of course, both Ashley and Kaiden volunteer for the crazy suicide mission. I let Ashley go, and immediately feel the gnawing in my abdomen. I made it through the rest of the mission with hardly a hitch, but I was trying to shake off the feeling that I was a terrible person throughout the entire level.
And then the moment I’d been dreading finally arrived. The wheel appeared on my screen, split with two choices: Rescue Kaiden and Rescue Ashley. There was no third option, no chance that I could save both of them. I had to choose, then and there, who I thought should live and who I’d let die. It didn’t help that both of them were insisting that the other was more important.
Like I said, I had decided from the beginning of the game who I was going to pick. But when it finally came down to it, I sat there and stared at the screen. I was holding two people’s lives in my hands.
I couldn’t be Captain Carrot and say “Personal isn’t the same thing as important.” I couldn’t be the paragon and choose what was best for the galaxy and my crew. Ashley was definitely a much more valuable asset to my team than Kaiden, as his skills overlapped too much with mine. I picked Kaiden because of my own selfish reasons and that’s just about it.
And that’s why I will never, ever take a position with that sort of power. At the end of the game, you have to make a choice again: save the Destiny Ascension or leave those 10,000 asari to die in favor of concentrating fire on Sovereign. Being the goody-two shoes, I obviously picked to save the Destiny Ascension, but I also watched several cruisers ripped to shreds in the process, cruisers that may have made it out if all my forces had simply concentrated fire on the enemy while it was distracted. I also understood that if this weren’t a game choice, in reality, there would be a chance that trying to save everyone ends up saving no one. Trying to save the Destiny Ascension may have been futile, and I would have wasted the galaxy’s only chance to take down the enemy, dooming the everyone because I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice 10,000 people. In reality, this wouldn’t be a decision where one could spend hours deliberating the costs and benefits, or estimate the risks, this wouldn’t be a decision where you could alt-tab out and seek out the assistance of a guide to peek at the consequences of each choice. It would have to be made in seconds, with full knowledge that the wrong choice could doom trillions of lives.
I’m not saying that Mass Effect is a perfect game, but its damn good at showing what games can uniquely do as a medium. In a book, a similar choice would be wrenching to watch the main character make, but in the end, you’re only watching someone else make that choice. Games have the power to actually put you in that situation. These are your teammates, who’ve probably pulled you out of sticky situations (though probably more vice versa, as the AI is -not- the brightest) before and have had -your- back throughout the game, not just the main character’s. Each person who plays has their own builds, their own attachments, or lack there of, for every squadmate. I’ve read books showing me the responsibilities of a commanding officer and empathized with characters forced to choose between absolutely awful options, but it never really hit me until I had to do it myself. I will never be in a position to make a similar choice (not if I can help it at least), but I got a taste of what it is like.
TL;DR - Command sucks.
Well, it looks like I failed at the daily writing thing again… But that aside, I just need to get this damn weight off of my chest, probably at the expense of sounding like some whiny emo kid going ‘bawwww my parents don’t understand me.’
My parents don’t understand why I’m spending so much time on DnD, while at the same time telling me I never finish anything I’ve started. What the hell do they think I’m trying to do here? I saw Dnd as a chance to constantly make presentations, draw up plans, and learn how to improvise when things didn’t quite go where I wanted them to go, in front of an audience that was ok if I screwed up, and would give me helpful suggestions and hopefully not make me feel like an utter failure. The last time I had to present something in front of a class and had to improvise because my powerpoint didn’t work, I ended up running out of the room crying. I don’t want that to happen again. Ever. I’m not a natural public speaker by any stretch of the imagination, as I’m much more likely to paralyze myself in nerves. I needed to push myself into practicing, but I’m sure as hell not going to run for class officer. I already had enough of that with CYC and I already hate failing, even if I see it coming from a mile off. So what’s wrong with me trying to practice public speaking in an environment that I’m actually comfortable in and with people that I know won’t make fun of me maliciously?
My dad just never, ever listens to my attempts at telling him what this is all about. As soon as he hears the word ‘game’, he immediately calls it a complete waste of time. He never hears my reasoning, and he complains that I’m so stubborn I can never hear his point of view. Well, yeah, I’m stubborn, but guess who I learned it from? He also complains that I always think that my way is the best way and won’t listen to any advice. I’ve so far not been bold enough to point out the irony in that statement. He was the one who pushed me to go take the lead in CYC because it was ‘good leadership’ opportunity. Same with captaincy of the golf team, and he was really, really beyond pissed when I didn’t get captaincy of the Science Olympiad team. I don’t ever freaking want to be the leader. I hate being leader because I can see everything that can go wrong and I hate not being able to do things right. Yes, I was a little hurt when I didn’t get to be captain for Science Olympiad, but that was because I actually care a lot about SciOly and it kinda hurt that Kobis didn’t want me to help, but I do realize that I wasn’t the best choice. I just don’t see why the one leadership role I want to take is the one that’s absolutely worthless.
My mom always thinks I’ll fail. When I myself am already running through myriad situations where I fail miserably before I do anything, these comments don’t help. I know she just doesn’t want me to get in over my head, but its just, really really not what I want to hear when I want to learn how to try things that I’m not great to begin with. She also does the asian thing where you don’t praise your kids in front of others at any cost. At graduation, when I met up with Mr Moose and took a pic, she joked about how I was just such a terrible student to him. Hell yes, I know that I was late all the time and I didn’t practice, but that’s… just. She said afterwards it was a joke, but really. It was graduation.
I’m trying to improve, I really am. I was guilty of major senioritis, and I was having a hard time getting myself to have a concentrated effort on anything. I freely admit that, but I wish my parents could see when I’m trying my best.
There was something strange happening to the ground around you. Bits of land seemed to be shifting, suddenly and unpredictably, before reverting to normal position. You noticed the rocks and trees seemingly phasing through the ground at points, which is extremely unsettling, as you are rather used to solid objects acting as such. While you can’t quite put a finger on what it is, this is definitely not a natural phenomena. The game isn’t supposed to do this.
Doctor slumped over the keyboard of his computer. How long had it been since he had more than one or two hours of sleep? Rubbing his bleary eyes, he squinted, trying to refocus the lines of code covering his screen into some semblance of order.
Usually, a ~ATH program should be simple and short, but this was a special case. Hundreds… thousands… millions of lines swam into view. Still blinking back sleep, he struggled to check last few hours of work. He couldn’t afford compiling errors, not here. Not with the launch looming over his head like a guillotine of old, and definitely not with this particular program. The fate of all life in the universe rested in his hands and so help him, he would prove that they hadn’t been wrong to trust him.
Allowing himself a brief stretch, the doctor downed another shot of espresso and got back to work.
Silence reigned in the hall of the Lord of the land; save for the crackling of the torches throwing relief onto the soot-stained walls, the packed chamber didn’t make a sound. The Badger Lord paced at the head of the room. Deep in thought, he turned from his subjects to face the tapestries hanging on the wall behind him. The five symbols of the Heroes of legend positively shone as the only objects in the room not blackened from the torches.
One of his guards stepped up and saluted smartly. “Sir, the Knight’s set has finally arrived.”
“I have so heard, I bid you be silent!”
The legends were coming true before his eyes. His forefathers had told him of a time where a Knight bearing the horns of life would set them free from Morgan le Fay’s foul sorcery, but it had been so long that he didn’t dare ever hope for such an outcome. So day after day, year after year, he toiled to bring his people just a little more prosperity than they had in the past. A tunnel project to expand the living quarters; regular patrols to take down the witch’s minions; arms training for every capable citizen.
And now, the Hero arrives, waltzing in to magically take care of every single problem that he had spent years trying to solve. Oh yes, it was fated.
He bared his teeth in frustration. It wasn’t fair. Already, his people were practically worshiping the objects that came with the house and the Knight that owned them. None of them cared so much about the one who had kept them alive long enough to see the Coming.
The Lord turned back to his subjects. Pointing his mail-encased claw, he ordered his most trusted vassals to bring the Knight back to him. He would test this… Hero, and see if he really was worth bearing the title of legend. Dropping heavily onto his throne, the Lord wrapped his hands around the hilt of his enormous claymore.
The Hero had better live up to expectations.
So, I’ve had this blog name for a few months now I think? I intended it to be a place were I could just practice writing, so I could grind that axe, or at least keep it relatively sharp. That idea kinda died after, oh, about 30 minutes of creating a tumblr. But I think I’ll take it up again, for the sake of something more constructive to do with my time. I’ll post something every day; it doesn’t matter what I write about, just that I write. If I actually get any followers, yell at me if I miss a day please.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s just get this show on the road.