Sunday, November 23, 2014

Too Many Inquisition Feels

If you play video games, or even if you don't and you just like to think about video games (I don't know, someone might??), then you've probably thought about what your ideal video game would be like. I know I think about it a lot! Mass Effect is my favorite video game series and probably one of my favorite stories of all time. But it's missing something. It's perfect, I mean I would never change it and it's an experience I will never forget, but let's be real. There are no blonde templars in Mass Effect. And there are no masquerade balls or castles or bards in taverns playing songs about your adventures.

And all of that is in Dragon Age: Inquisition, which IF YOU'VE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK is BioWare's latest installment in the Dragon Age series, and came out last Tuesday. So naturally I've done nothing with my life since then but play it. BECAUSE IT IS PERFECT.

This isn't going to be a review, because I'm only about 45 hours into the game and nowhere near finished, but I just have to write about it because it's swallowing me whole and I need to express my feels before I explode. I'm still not even sure this game is real, that's how good it is. I started playing when I was in the throes of a cold, so I was all delirious and kept thinking, "Is this really happening?? Is this game really this good?!" Yes. It is real! Unless I'm dreaming right now!

Just. This world is enveloping me so completely it's as real to me as ~real life~. It's open world, so you can pretty much explore wherever you want in a zone, unless there's a big ol' mountain in your way, or a dragon that you're too scared to try to fight ("run awayyy!"). That means it feels more like you're truly existing in a fully realized world that's there whether or not you have a quest to finish in the area. As you wander you find letters, chapters from books, and various bits of history or stories or personal anecdotes that add so much more depth to the setting. I'm constantly learning more about the world of Thedas, and losing myself in it is so easy.

The characters are just as real and complex as the setting, and I love every single one of them so much. Except for Solas. He's a big giant jerkface and I am aggressively not doing any of his stupid personal quests. Go to the Hinterlands yourself, Solas, if it's so important! Cullen, though. And Josephine (Leliana calls her "Josie", kill me). And CASSANDRA can we talk about Cassie because she is the tank of my dreams and one of my favorite characters of all time even though I hated her in Dragon Age 2. And I can't say enough about Varric, who writes erotic friend fiction, and Vivienne calling you "my dear" and Dorian's fucking mustache, and the Iron Bull's whole crew, and SERA'S PRANKS, I just can't with any of these people! I would fight and die for them without blinking an eye. Leading an inquisition is so much easier when surrounded by a whole buncha lovable badasses.

There are still so many things I want to write but I don't want to spoil anyone, so I won't go into much more detail. I'm just... I'm so in love with this game and I'm not even done! This despite the fact that my heart was broken last night during one of the quests. I won't say why, but BioWare... I hate you. You are a pile of masochistic jerks. There was a choice I had to make, and it was so awful and heart-wrenching I literally had a panic attack. Like, I started hyperventilating and my hands went numb and started doing that clenchy thing lol so I breathed into a pillow until I "calmed down", which meant I still kept sobbing uncontrollably but at least my hands were working? Thank god for my friends, who were there through all of it, talking me down and reminding me that it would all be okay. Eventually.

Let's be real though, BioWare is the best thing to ever happen to gaming. Thank you for being so wonderful, you pile of masochistic jerks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Shutter: Gateway Drug to Comics

This is the worst quality photo I'm so sorry to everyone.

O hai! Happiest of Odin's Day to you all. And how are you this fine November eve? I'm super great! I just got back from hangin' out at Cosmic Monkey Comics, where my friend Leila was doing a signing with Joe (her writer) for their comic Shutter! Volume 1 (a collection of issues 1-6) just came out this week, and having read all six issues pretty much as they came out, I can attest that it is Super Good. With capitals. It's kind of been my gateway drug into comics, which means an awful lot, because I've just recently discovered the wonder that is the world of comics. I can't believe it took me this long to sort my shit out, but at least I finally did!

Omg it's a ninja ghost just for me~

Shutter was the first time I read a comic and was like, "Oh wow, this is a cool story with beautiful art and a rad, engaging protagonist who I want to read about and follow on her adventures! I NEED MORE!" Which is awesome and I'm so grateful for it. Without Leila's friendship and subsequent guidance in my comics journey (she is constantly recommending new comics to us comic noobs, which is fantastic), I don't think I'd be sitting here today in bed, surrounded by finished, half-read, and soon-to-be-read comics while nursing a massive crush on Matt Fraction.

Of course other friends have given recommendations that have been spot on -- Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Hawkeye anyone?? -- but Shutter started it all, and I have Leila (and Joe!) to thank for that.

Hanging out in a comics shop with some of my best friends and talking comics, warm and cozy while it's blustery and cold outside -- what a lovely end to the day. Now talk comics to me: what do you read? What do you want to read? What do you recommend? Do you want recommendations from me, a comics noob?? Comics! Discuss.

Friday, November 7, 2014

N7 Day Part 2

OKAY I'M SORRY this is another N7 Day post, sue me it happens once a year let me have this. Let me take a bunch of selfies of me and my Shepard tattoo and harass you with them.

Sooo, today has been pretty goddamn great. Like, this might be my second favorite holiday now, tied with Thanksgiving, because let's be reeeaalll Christmas is just completely on another level. Anyway. Today has been wonderful. I wore my N7 shirt (AS U CAN SEE), geeked out with other fans across the interwebs, and of course I made N7 cupcakes all alone all evening Because OBVIOUSLY?

It took me way too long to make these, and this is only half of them, but they were WORTH IT and came out way better than expected as I have pretty much zero experience decorating baked goods with icing?? I'm super proud, regardless! And they taste so good. Dark chocolate fudge frosting, you guys. Dark chocolate fudge.

Anyway just a short lil post this time, but I just... I want to say again, thank you BioWare for creating such a wonderful thing that even my crusty old bitter heart can love so much it consumes me entirely. Thank you for bringing Stacey and me together. Thank you for reconnecting me to old friends. Thank you for making me feel like part of a community of amazingly talented, enthusiastic, and lovely people.

Here's to us! Who's like us? Damn few! And they're all dead.

What N7 Day Means to Me

"What does N7 mean to you?" BioWare asked in a blog post last month in anticipation of November 7th, now celebrated as N7 Day by Mass Effect fans. Well, buckle up, sit back, and get ready because I am going to tell you exactly what N7 means to me!!

We all know by now that I'm a huge fan of this series. I got an N7 tattoo immediately after finishing the game, and a half sleeve of Commander Shepard shortly after that. I'M A LITTLE OBSESSED. This game showed me a female character who I love more than anything. It introduced me to a fictional world that is so vivid and engaging that it's real to me. It's part of me.

But what N7 really really means to me, even more than the deep (and frankly impossible-to-express-in-mere-words) way it touched me, is connection. It means discovering an incredibly vast and welcoming fan base of people who are just as in love with the Mass Effect series, are just as emotionally invested, and wanna bang Garrus just as much as I do. Being a fan is more than just enthusiasm about the game. It's about sharing the experience with people who have that same enthusiasm, and letting that excitement bounce back and forth and grow into art, music, stories, conversation, whatever, inspired by this one thing we all love together.

Which brings me to the best, best thing I got out of the ridiculously intense emotional experience that was my first playthrough of Mass Effect. And by "thing" I mean person. And by person I mean Stacey. It's Stacey. Stacey is the best thing to come of Mass Effect for me, let's be real. Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone who you immediately get along with, who has the exact same stupid sense of humor as you, who understands all of your weird-as-shit personality quirks because they have those same quirks, and who just gets you? 100%? That's Stacey. I've never even met her in real life and we've only known each other for a short time, but I trust her as much as I trust family. It feels like we've been friends our whole lives.

I feel super lucky to have multiple girl friends who are like sisters to me, who I would kill and die for, and who I would trust with my life and all of my darkest, weirdest secrets. Stacey is now one of them (a friend, not a weird secret). She could call me in the middle of the night and ask me to drive through the night to LA and help her hide the body of the man she just murdered, and I would do it. No question. I'd engage in fisticuffs for her. No seriously, I would take a punch in the face. I'd also give as many punches in the face as I could manage with my very limited reach. And I'd play any goddamn video game she wanted me to, just to talk to her while doing multiplayer. EVEN SCARY ONES. Even Call of Duty.

And the thing is, Stacey is the one person I lived Mass Effect with. We played it almost in tandem; I finished the game after her, but she stayed up until 3:00 in the morning the day I finished so she could talk me down when I lost all of my shit as the credits rolled. She understood completely every ridiculous Mass Effect-related thought I had, every moment that upset me or made me laugh or made me cry. You know how at the end of Speed, Keanu Reeves says to Sandra Bullock, "I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work"? Well he was DEAD WRONG because going through one of the most intense emotional experiences I've ever endured (aside from like, you know, breakups and the deaths of loved ones I guess, although this weirdly comes close?) with Stacey forged our bond like the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Which means it's strong. It's a strong-as-fuck bond.

I used to be so worried that as we stopped replaying and replaying Mass Effect and moved on to other things, that our friendship would fade or diminish in some way. But it's only gotten stronger as we discover new things we have in common, and are continually reminded how similar we are. I just love her so much, you guys. It's stupid. And I may never have realized just how much I love her without Mass Effect.

So thank you, Mass Effect. Thank you Commander Shepard. Thank you Biotic God, thank you Thane in the vents, thank you "behind the crates", thank you Kaidan's scream in London, thank you Wrex cosplayer with the tiny arms. Thank you BioWare, you fucking brilliant assholes. N7 means the world to me because N7 means Stacey.

Love you, bae.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Xbox in Bed

Lolololol I spent three hours today rearranging my room and cleaning shit so I'd be able to move my Xbox in here for the winter. It gets mad cold out in the living room and our power bills in the winter are humongo, so as much as I love the idea of playing DA:I in fingerless hobo gloves and like four onesies layered on top of each other, I decided that a move to the bedroom would be the most prudent course of action. My room has its own thermostat, so I can turn on the heat until it warms up in here and turn it off again, and it'll stay a lot warmer than the big ol' un-insulated living room! Hooray for not dying of hypothermia!

Please ignore my wrinkly-ass bedding and limp pillows. This isn't some lifestyle blog with curated photos of my IKEA black and white chevron rug! This is real life. And in real life my bed looks like shit I guess.

Also please ignore my new Dell. What, a PC? Me? Naahhh. *sobs gently into limp pillows*

Anyway I would update you on what I did today, but I worked for eight hours and then cleaned for three more and now it's bedtime, aka time to read Hawkeye, so there's not much on which to update you. Next time, though: COMICS UPDATE! Maybe? If I feel like it.

Lyall says goodnight.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Best Halloween

We were supposed to be protecting Rose, the rat, but instead it looks like I'm attacking her violently.

I'm gonna go right ahead and say it: Halloween this year was the best Halloween I've had in recent memory! For real! I can't even think of a Halloween that was better. So I guess that means it's the best Halloween OF ALL TIME? Yes. Best of All Time.

I mean last Halloween was sort of okay because the office I worked in at the time was full of super geeky, awesome people who invited me to join their Clue-themed costume extravaganza, so that was fun! But I was still feeling sad about my breakup and I think probably went home and watched Pacific Rim and moped that night. So it's not very hard for Halloween 2014 to be better than Halloween 2013, but I feel like even if last Halloween wasn't depressing, it could never have lived up to this year's!

Trio o' heroes!

So let's go over Halloween 2014! My friends are perfect, to start. Megan, Georgia, and I dressed as Marvel heroes (Megan is Spider-Man in child-sized gloves and socks, Georgia is Thor, and I'm Captain America), and Rose dressed as a plague rat (her husband was a plague doctor but did not really take part in our festivities last night and is thus not pictured). We hung out and talked for hours at Georgia's and then went down to the Triple Nickel, a divey bar across the street, where I won a raffle and got a free drink WOOHOO!! And while dancing to Taylor Swift near the end of the night, clutching my child's shield and sweating profusely, I just felt so happy to be surrounded by friends who get me and are super super fun to be around no matter how introvert-y I may feel at a given time. Even if we had just spent the entire night eating Goldfish crackers and drinking wine in Georgia's place I would have had The Most Fun! I love these people. I love them a lot.

But let's not forget the office Halloween party, because that was also INCREDIBLE okay. I never knew work holidays could be so much fun?? Almost everybody dressed up, there was so much good food and a laser light show and a pumpkin pinata and a Scary Room with full-sized candy bars in the Scary Cauldron and favor bags and a bunch of people who I love being around for 40 hours every week! The whole day was so much fun it just sped by, and I was weirdly almost sad to go home at the end of the day, like when does that ever happen? Hashtag blessed.

The only down side of Halloween was the sheer amount of food I ate, which was probably my entire weight in junk?? And therefore I was sober all goddamn night. All night! Usually I'm a huge lightweight but I was stone cold sober pretty the whole time. All those Cheetos absorbed the booze. Not that it stopped me from dancing for hours and having the most fun time ever, but still! Lame.

I hope you all had Halloweens as fun as mine! What did you dress up as? Did you overeat and wanna hurl all day? The important questions. YAY HALLOWEEN 2014!!