What is an RPG without the “R” and the “P”? [Part 1 of 2]

This past March, in the few weeks leading up to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s release, I opted to take on the challenge of playing through as as much of the original trilogy as I could. But with time being short, and those games being long, I was faced with only one choice: speed(ish) runs! (Relatively speaking.) With rules, of course. (Otherwise there was no way in hell I was going to be able to reign myself in!) Surprisingly, I managed to make it through both ME 1 and 2, and I documented my progress on Virtual Bastion. Here’s part 1 of my 2-part post.


Image by Flick user mrwynd (CC BY 2.0)

When I decided at the beginning of March that yes, okay, I’d invest in Mass Effect: Andromeda, I thought that it might be fun to play through what I could of the original trilogy before Andromeda was released. But with my gaming time being limited, and with upwards of a several dozen hours, if not more, required for each game, I knew that there was no way I could complete any of the games to their fullest extents in just a couple weeks. It was a quandary.

But then, I thought, what if I didn’t complete the games to their fullest extents? What if I only played through each game’s main story? Having never put less than a standard work-week’s time into any of my playthroughs of any of the individual Mass Effect titles, I thought it could…

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Okay Mass Effect: Andromeda, You Got Me

It was only a mere 18 days ago that I decided to give in to Mass Effect: Andromeda. For whatever it was worth, I was on the fence about it for awhile, being excited, then not excited, then totally meh, and then excited enough to place my pre-order. The “me” of years past probably wouldn’t have been so flip-floppy about it, but what can I say? It just took a little more convincing this time around. What drove me into the positive about Andromeda? In large part, it was thanks to new gameplay videos and news stories like the one I riffed off in this United We Game post.


Image (©Bioware) by Flickr user inforumatik (CC)Image (©Bioware) by Flickr user inforumatik (CC)

Regular readers might have caught a post I wrote a c ouple months ago in which I was a little down on Mass Effect: Andromeda. Unfortunately, I was harboring some bad thoughts about what Andromeda was purported to be back in early December, and that something was, as I perceived it, a mere shade of what I had hoped from a new Mass Effect adventure.

Well, here we are now, just twenty days away from Andromeda’s release, and…yep, I have to admit that I’ve changed my tune. I am now, fully and without exception, all aboard the Andromeda train. Woo woo!

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Let’s Get Physical: Tomb Raider (2013)

Over the course of my gaming life, I’ve played plenty of games that required one to maneuver a main character through perilous situations. The Uncharted games come to mind, but there are many others (oh, Prince of Persia!) in which you see your character dangling from mountain cliffs, nearly missing stupendous jumps over chasms, and facing off against hordes of seemingly invisible enemies. A notion driving these scenarios is courage in the face of certain death – you fight through any fears and come out victorious on the other side. And there’s nothing terribly new in all that.

But playing through the new Tomb Raider, as I did several months back, made me feel something else entirely: trepidation. Anxiety. Sometimes, fear. Lara Croft has survived the decades, but there were a number of moments in the game were I truly thought she wouldn’t make it to the end. And that’s terrible of me because never once did I think the same of, say, Nathan Drake, a character who takes plenty of licks during his adventures. It’s possible that I’ve been playing such “He-Man” characters for too long, but this new Lara Croft, well…goddamn if she wasn’t one hell of spitfire. And, more importantly, a survivor.

Tomb Raider (2013) cover art © Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix, Microsoft
Tomb Raider (2013) cover art © Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix, Microsoft

Continue reading “Let’s Get Physical: Tomb Raider (2013)”

A New Gaming Challenge: Making Nice With The Twilight Princess

Inspired by completing Xenoblade Chronicles last year, I recently decided that I was going to take on another left-unfinished game from my backlog — The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I’ll have an update posted on United We Game soon, but here’s my initial proclamation of this noble(?) task.


Image from Flickr user Thiago Borbolla (CC)Image from Flickr user Thiago Borbolla (CC)

Since giving up on not beating Metroid Prime, I’ve been wary of challenging myself to complete old, unfinished (or never started) games in my backlog.  Or, I should say, wary of challenging myself and then making myself accountable by documenting the process in writing, i.e. blogging about it.  But even though my Metroid Prime challenge didn’t have the best ending, from the experience came a number of thought-provoking…err…thoughts that I hadn’t considered when I first played it. Plus, sharing the game here provided much needed support that helped propel me to its almost-end, for which I remain grateful. And since it’s the start of a new year, why not resolve now to work through a game that’s been itching at the back of my skull for several months now…

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

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About everything. And nothing.

I have a problem with “being present,” and it’s an issue that’s seeped into several different aspects of my life, usually not for the better. In large part I blame my current career. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it, but it’s not without its downsides. My job primarily involves the past and the future. On a daily basis I work with the past, writing about it, answering questions about it, and reviewing documents from it. On a daily basis I also work with the future, planning for upcoming projects, budgeting for future needs, and thinking about how to best serve people who’ve yet to cross my path. Living this dichotomy every day for several years has led to me being unable to focus in the here and now. Even as I sit and write this post, I’m thinking about the next one, and how I still haven’t fixed that typo in that post I wrote a month ago. My brain always feels like it’s being pulled backwards and forwards; it’s hardly ever still enough to savor what’s right in front of me. It’s a poor way to live, and I don’t recommend it.

If there’s one thing that used to help me focus on the moment, it was gaming, but that too has become colored by my ill-functioning neurons. Fuckall if I didn’t sit down for a little Xenoblade Chronicles not long ago only to kill any enjoyment I might have had by constantly worrying about switching out team members. Will it affect the game if I don’t?, I kept asking myself while I was getting lost on Valek Mountain.

Continue reading “About everything. And nothing.”

Setting Paths and Changing Outcomes in RPGs

Gaming isn’t the only hobby that’s taken a hit in my adult life, but the way I play games, especially RPGs, has fundamentally changed over the past decade. No longer do I have the time to stroll through a huge story with multiple customized characters, collecting and discovering and squeezing every bit of goodness out of a game’s every nook and cranny. Nowadays, I tend towards taking a single path in a game and changing the outcome when needed, rather than sticking to choices with the knowledge that I’ll be able to take another path with another character. This journey towards RPGing with limits is something I explored recently on United We Game.


Dragon Age: Inquisition screenshot by Flicker user Mark Molea (CC) Dragon Age: Inquisition screenshot by Flickr user Mark Molea (CC)

Recently, a number of our posts here have focused, in ways directly or indirectly, on challenges associated with being adult gamers. As much as we might not like to admit it, as we grow older, our gaming habits change, sometimes by choice, often by necessity. Demanding jobs, growing families, and surmounting financial concerns all eat away at free time that we may have once had to devote to games. In my gaming life, the requirements of the real world have especially impacted one of my gaming habits in particular, that of playing through a single game with multiple characters and having each follow a distinct path.

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Retro Bound?

A few months ago, before Dragon Age: Inquisition came rambling along and Bayonetta hooked me with merely a glance, I considered a possible gaming future that was rooted in the past. I thought that in order for me to really stick with gaming as a perpetual hobby, I might have to focus less on the here-and-now in gaming and more on the overlooked gems of generations gone by. These inklings culminated in the post below that I wrote for United We Game. Despite the fact that I’m playing recent games now, I wouldn’t call these thoughts quelled. If anything, my desire to head back before moving directly forward is stronger than ever. Though it is humming along quietly in the backseat while I take on dragons and witches. Because, priorities.


Image by Flickr user kylebaker Image by Flickr user kylebaker

As the beginning of 2014, you know how many games for which I was so incredibly excited I was counting down the minutes to the released dates? Exactly zero. That’s not to say I wasn’t looking forward to a few games (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, and Fable Anniversary, for example), or that I was oblivious to the release of the likes of Titanfall, Thief, or other big budget titles. It’s just that nothing new really lit up all my gaming cylinders.

So here we are nine months later, and only one game has me all a’jittery – Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s the only game this year that I’ve even thought of pre-ordering. And if I do get it, well…it’s still an if. (Though I probably will get it.)

Lately, I’ve been much more…

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Project 151: Round and round (with Pokemon, not Ratt)

When we last left our intrepid Lora (i.e. me), she was stuck in the Safari Zone in Fuschia City.

I would like to throw...YOUR FACE!  Guess that doesn't really work with Poekmon, huh?
I would like to throw…YOUR FACE! Guess that doesn’t really work with Pokemon, huh?

Before the recent Labor Day holiday, I didn’t have much time to play. In the spare five minutes I had here and there, I did nothing but wander through the Safari Zone (spending so manys $500!). I really, really, really wanted to know what the secret surprise was at the end of the zone! While there,  did manage to catch a number of different Pokemon — one of which I added to my team (Nidorina), which now looks like this:

Been steadily leveling up everyone but Charizard, but we all know I don’t like grinding.

Continue reading “Project 151: Round and round (with Pokemon, not Ratt)”