If You’re the Expert, Why am I the One Fighting?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some combat- and story-related spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Some random thoughts I don’t want to forget:

Jaal and hope. Did you get the email from Lexi? After we were all “There’s hope! We might be able to bring them back!” LEXI went and convinced him otherwise. Made him “see reason.” She undid our choice. When do NPCs undo our choices in games? Especially when we’re trying to be “good?” We gotta talk on that.

And the exiles. We didn’t really talk on that.

And the Krogan, and their attempts to cure the genophage. Did you get the data for that doctor krogan? Who said he was trying to end the genophage but the data seemed to be about making krogan supersoldiers? Ooops. Stop the bomb, give them supersoldiers. Way to go, me.

Also:

Sweet surfing California Jesus that fight. That fight. That fight sucked.

It never ended, I kept getting lost, I kept getting confused, I kept getting dead. It was terrible. So I did the unthinkable:

I turned down the difficultly. Yes, yes I did. And..here’s the thing…then did the whole thing in one go, without any real problem.

Which was all I had. Now I’m in a cave about to probably get the bomb back, but probably not cuz all I’ll likely do is kill some dudes, then find a datapad telling me the bomb is really on the other side of the planet. Or on another planet.

Now….difficulty.

We have praised a lot of games of late for finding that sweet spot of “hard enough to feel challenging and exciting, but not too hard to be frustrating.” TW3. Horizon. Even RotTR. MEA? MEA is bad at this. Really, really, REALLY bad at this. Before I reached this impossible, confusing, controller throwing, rage inducing cluster fuck, I was getting to the point where combat was boring. Easy. Call the drone, hide a while, pick off enemies as easily as clicking on them with a mouse. This fight? There must have been eight times where I didn’t even get to the second phase, the second of, what 27 phases?

A game should not switch from “boring unless you turn the difficulty up to hard” to “Impossible unless you turn it to casual” fight to fight. Not even early game to late game, fight to fight. That sucks. Want the game to be easy and narrative based? Fine. Want the game to be hard? Also fine. But to switch from one extreme to the other fight to fight? Not fine.

Boo.

Feminina:

Yeah, the Flophouse was a nasty one. I didn’t turn down the difficulty, but then, I’ve been on ‘normal’ the entire game, so it was basically the same thing. (No wonder I’m so far ahead of you!)

As for the bomb being in another location…this is the remnant drive core we’re talking about? And you’ve already tracked it through several locations to get to the Flophouse? If so, I think this might actually be where you find it.

Or, if you haven’t already tracked it through several locations, than yeah, you’re totally going to do that.

In the spirit of nasty fights, I finally tackled a Remnant Architect over the weekend. It’s basically the same deal, when you think about it. Wave after wave of things you have to shoot, scampering around collecting health and ammunition, trying desperately not to die and have to start all over…it does have the added element of “keep wearing this one thing down” but then, we have that with the kett dudes who have that shield-and-orb combo.

So it’s nothing we haven’t done before, it’s just a lot of big things. I did finally finish it off. This was the one on Kadara, so hey, only three left! I suppose I should go back and try to find those missing scientists on Voeld next.

Butch:

Oh I know. I fought one for 45 minutes. Irritating.

I’ve already chased the bomb all over the damn planet. At least I got to listen to Suvi. It better be in this cave.

I’ve been playing on normal! Which has been easy! I even did the kett facility in one go. I had to go from normal to casual! I was this close to turning it to hard cuz I was bored!

Wait….three more? You HAVE to kill them? And you’re STILL not done?

Shit. On many levels.

Feminina:

No, you don’t have to kill them. I think you can completely ignore the remnant architects, as I have done until now, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the game. It’s just the bragging rights, man! The completionist in me!

I died several times the first time I tried, then quit and went to bed, and when I went back last night I finished it in one go, so…it’s about that challenging. Tough, but if you’re in the right mindset, you can polish it off OK.

I thought you started it on hard. I was going to be all impressed that turning it to normal made it super easy, because I did the Flophouse on normal and it was a pain in the neck. I agree, for the most part normal is pretty easy lately, which I’ve been going with because hell, I do want this game to be over EVENTUALLY. Normal is hard enough on the big fights, and by this point, 700 hours in, I think I’ve earned easy on the little fights.

Butch:

Nope, I’ve been normal all the way. As I said, the small fights are a whole lotta nothing. One, I just hid until Drack and drone killed everyone. I’m at a point now where if something only has a red bar, it doesn’t even register as a thread to me.

Once again, though, you have proven uncanny in your ability to mention something and have it happen. Just played some. Got the drive core, decided to give it to the krogan (which I instantly regretted), got an outpost, and promptly got the “Kill the architect” quest. Just like that.

You allied with the krogan, too, didn’t you?

I don’t feel like killing an architect right now. Fuck that. Gonna magpie for just a little while then off the the tempest to flirt and find that other priority thing, which better fucking be shorter than this.

Feminina:

Normal is great! There’s no shame in normal! Normies unite!

I did ally with the krogan. We’ve been talking all over about how they got a bad deal and have been treated shabbily by the Initiative and so forth. Gotta make up for some of that. Give the krogan some respect.

I haven’t regretted it so far, but we’ll see. I suspect all kinds of tensions will come to a head once I finally get around to pursuing the main story again.

But yeah, totally ignore the architect. “It’s on its way to the settlement!” Yeah, whatever, it’ll take its time getting there. No rush.

Butch:

But…how would we know normal is great?

Indeed, some long due respect. Though that head krogan was kinda nasty.

HA! Yeah. “It’s close…if it finds us we’re dead for sure…” Yeah, it’ll be cool. Legs, then head. You’ll be fine.

I wanted to say “Sister, I’m the last person you need doing that. I found one of them on Voeld, and the Asari I was with said ‘Architect!’ and I said ‘what?’ and the Angaran I was with said ‘aim for the legs!’ and I said ‘really? You know this how?’ Like, seriously, sister, EVERYONE knows more about these things than I do. Ask someone else.”

Feminina:

Good question. Well…I didn’t mean NORMAL normal.

And hey, that’s true! I was with Jaal and Vetra, and Jaal kept yelling “aim for the legs!” Since when are you the architect expert? But since you are, YOU aim for the legs.

It’s also true that Morda was kind of a jerk, but the other krogan seemed pretty cool (I loved some of their message strings on the terminals, like the guy selling jerky, and the new fathers group–incidentally, so they’ve managed to overcome the genophage to some extent? momentarily referencing the things you didn’t want to forget but that we’re still failing to discuss?–and the bit about the Sadie Hawkins dance or whatever.) I’m going to be chill, and Morda will come around. That’s my plan.

Butch:

Of course not. That would be weird.

Whoa…circular….

Exactly, though! PB shouted “architect” when we were REALLY far away! I didn’t even see it yet! I was all “What? What’s an architect? Where? Oh, THAT! Uh…if you say so…”

How did they know? However they did, they should go deal with those things. I’ll chill with Suvi.

Krogan do lead to some funny moments. Which is both enjoyable (cuz funny) and the source of some narrative dissonance. Why is the humor coming from the race that is always fighting, got hit with the genophage and nuked their homeworld? They are, by any yard stick, the darkest race in the game. And yet, they’re always good for a chuckle. Did they do that to avoid making them TOO dark? I dunno.

Feminina:

Well, you know…black humor, always a thing. Being able to stay a little amused by their situation is probably what keeps them slightly sane. And us from feeling too terrible about their situation, of course.

“It’s fine. I mean, they’re singing in the fields! Making jokes! They’re HAPPY the way they are!”

Riiiiiiight.

Butch:

Good point. And a bit of a cheap cop out by bioware, now that I think about it.

Feminina:

“Look, you can’t expect me to spend a lot of time worrying about the krogan. Seriously, humans weren’t even spacefaring when all this happened! We weren’t responsible, and we refuse to think about how our behavior in the present day supports or challenges the perpetuation of age-old injustices we personally had nothing to do with. Besides, you can tell the krogan are totally fine–some of them are funny! And rate among my best friends!”

Butch:

We’re biting today!

Must be Tuesday.

 

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Death to Alarms

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for specific combat in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Ok, so played yet another ton last night.

Went to the Remnant ship looking for the drive core. Had two laugh out loud moments when I said, in real life, “Nice of them to leave us a trail of flares,” only to have Ryder say it three seconds later and when Ryder wondered, out loud, why she talks to herself. Because story, Ryder!

Then drove all over holy hell looking for drive signatures. If it wasn’t Suvi’s sexy voice guiding me I would’ve gotten more angry than I got, but I still got angry. So angry that when I found that poor sister for the security guy, I just said “Oh stay here then!” I couldn’t be bothered. Poor security guy left his job on the comfy nexus and now he’s out here for nothing, but really, I was out of fucks to give at that point.

And BOY was I out of fucks to give when the quest led me to the flophouse. Fuck that place. Six times I died, the last words I hear being “Disable the alarm to prevent reinforcements, pathfinder.” NO SHIT SAM! could you tell a Pathfinder where, exactly, the alarm IS?????

So I rage quit.

And I said “You know? Why am I DOING this? This day started with me saying I wanted a priority op, and this isn’t it, and I want to make progress.” So I decided that, when I fired it up today, I’d just go back to the tempest. So there.

And then….

Remember how I started the day yesterday with an internal crisis? This happened last night:

Me: [sits bolt upright awake]
Me, Again: Go back to sleep.
Me: Dude, I was thinking about the game…
Me, Again: Relax. We’re not going to do that fight. It’ll be nice and relaxing tomorrow. Go back to sleep.
Me: But dude, this is a Mass Effect game.
Me, Again: Yes, I know, we’ve been playing it for what seems like 19 years. Your point?
Me: You remember the end of Mass Effect 2?
Me, Again: Yeah, reaper, looked like the terminator….
Me: No, BEFORE that….
[long pause] Me, Again: Oh, shit.
Me: You following me?
Me, Again: Your whole squad could get fucked up…people you spend hours getting to know could die….
Me: There ya go….
Me, Me, Again [in unison]: If you didn’t do, like, everything.

Shit.

Feminina:

Oh man, that could be true. I haven’t finished, so I don’t know.

But you didn’t have to do absolutely everything, you just had to do ship upgrades and companion quests, right?

You can still ignore SOME stuff. Probably. I don’t know! I’m not done. You could be right.

Damn it.

Butch:

I dunno, man. I’m here trying to stop a bad dude(ette) from building a big fucking bomb to use against the nexus. This is the kind of thing that one overlooks at one’s peril in a bioware game. This is the sort of thing when you say “Ah FUCK this” and go back to the Tempest, the ending is “Congratulations, you ended the kett threat, and the next day the nexus exploded killing everyone, especially Suvi who died saying ‘Why did you break my heart? Do you really like Chloe more than you like me? *whimper*'”

Damn it. DAMN IT!

Feminina:

Yeah, that does seem like a big one, it’s true. Maybe it’s in the “ship upgrades” category of quest (since we don’t actually upgrade the Tempest). That could still leave some things in the “randomly helping strangers” category that doesn’t turn out to be vital.

That’s kind of awesome that you just told the sister to go ahead and stay there. I convinced her to call her brother, because family, etc., but hey, it IS her life.

Also, yes yes yes to the frustration of the Flophouse. That was Elaaden’s version of the “enormous multi-stage battle with no save points” (every planet has one!). The first time I got there I also quit in annoyance. I can’t remember if I actually went away and did other things for a while, or if I went back to it the next night, but yeah, it’s a nasty scene.

Just don’t die.

And finally, many hell yeahs to the irritation with SAM’s helpful tip regarding the alarm. “I would LOVE to turn that damn thing off, SAM, if only you could maybe indicate where it is in a useful fashion!”

Butch:

Yeah, like, forgetting to put a dude’s pendant on a rock is not on par with forgetting to stop a really bad dude with a krogan army from getting a super bomb. Well, probably not.

At that point in the night, I was NOT going to take an option that made the quest longer. I was already pissed that the whole bomb thing was taking forever. I wanted a damn green check mark, and if that meant not giving a fuck, then so be it.

Where IS the fucking alarm? Inside? And is it a kill everyone quest or a run like holy hell quest?

WHERE IS THE ALARM?

Feminina:

Kill everyone. You definitely have to kill everyone. And if I remember correctly, you have to hack three different consoles to turn off the alarm…or maybe that was a different place. Or maybe it was there AND a different place! I remember finding it annoying more than once.

Anyway, go into buildings–I think at least two of them were up, on a higher level–and look for consoles to hack, and eventually you will get the alarm to stop. (Something in which I was intensely interested, less because of the fear that more enemies would come and more because of the FREAKING ANNOYING NOISE the alarm makes.)

But proceed cautiously, because you must kill everyone, and you cannot save until everyone is dead.

This will probably be of more long-term value than placing someone’s pendant on Eos, although one never knows.

Butch:

Oh the noise! Dude, I was playing with headphones. DIRECTIONAL headphones!

The noise is there! Now there! Now EVERYWHERE!

Shit, you know what was probably the problem? I didn’t switch the quest to the “flophouse: kill the fuck out of everyone” quest, so I wasn’t getting helpful hexagons where I had to go. THAT must be it.

Fuck, I seem to be addicted to hexagons. What am I going to do in the next game I play?

HA! Kidding! I’m never finishing this thing!

Especially as now I fear the penalty for not doing everything is no nudity!

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, you gotta select the quest!

Although that doesn’t always help that much, because if you have, say, three consoles you have to hack, there will be three stars luring you in different directions and you will still get mightily confused in the heat of battle, thinking you’re running towards one of them and then discovering that you’re actually aiming at another one on another level…not that I have personally experienced this or anything.

Butch:

Just embrace the rage.

T SHIRT!!!!!!

Feminina:

Pain is temporary. Rage is eternal.

(Actual T shirt I once saw in a store.)

Although in fact the rage usually dissipates fairly quickly after you finally get the alarm off and the game saved.

Saving games saves lives! (Assuming we will eventually die of stress and hypertension as a result of these no-save-point fights.)

Lost in the Hexagon Fields

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Vague spoilers for a few Mass Effect: Andromeda plot points

Butch:

Ok, I’m torn. I’m conflicted. I need HELP here man!

So I played a bunch. Shot up the Roekkar with Reyes, got to the end point of that, and then figured there wasn’t anything all that compelling near where I was, I was annoyed I didn’t get any main quest stuff done before, so I decided to bug out to the tempest to talk to Gil and move things along.

Well, that sure as shit moved things along.

I get there, there’s a war council and I hear about a turian world and a Krogan revolt. About eight companion quests move along. I have email from about 91 people. The whole quest updating green check mark hold to track thingy in the corner was moving so fast I couldn’t keep up. Everyone wants to talk to me, and I now have, not one, not two, but THREE priority op missions. THREE! How can they ALL be priority?????

Which brings me to my inner turmoil.

I’m starting to see why this game got some hate. There’s too much of it. Not in the “this game is very long” sense, though it is. But there’s too many narrative strings. I have been bored playing games, I have been frustrated, I have been annoyed. But never, EVER in narrative games have I ever been this totally, completely, utterly confused. Not just the “Oh, yeah, I’m sure there’s some lore about that in the codex but who cares” confused. I have no fucking idea as to what is going on right now.

The archon? Yes. Finding him is a thing. Meridian. Yes. Need that. Terraforming. Good. Terraforming is good. Past that, who? What? These turians, is that the ark? Or something else? The Krogan, are they rebels? Exiles? Were they with the Sloan people? Or…and they’re priority because, why? Huh? WHAT?

What’s worse is that good narrative strands are ALSO lost in this mess. I remember WAAAAAY back when I started Drack’s personal quest. Trying to see if that guy was…doing…what was he doing? I DON’T KNOW! It’s been on hold so long that I have no earthly idea what this Spendler…Spangler…whoever dude was doing that made Drack so mad! I remember thinking “This is a good quest, this has themes,” but that was so long ago I’ve forgotten! I have no idea what this quest is about any more! I’m just chasing orange hexagons. And that sucks.

So here is my internal dialog:

Me: “Fuck it. Find the strand that makes sense, follow it, if you don’t do all this other stuff, that’s fine, we got our money’s worth.”
Me, again: “Whoa! Dude! We might be missing good stuff!”
Me: “Chance we take. If we don’t, this will be a confusing mess, and we’ll never PLAY AS CHLOE. Best to take as direct a route to the credits as possible. We’ve already been playing forever.”
Me, again: “Dude, you remember ME2? ME3?”
Me: “I do.”
Me, again: “Do I have to show you the blog posts where we said that the best part of those games were the companion quests?”
Me: [long pause] “Fuck you, man.”
Me, again: “I am you.”
Me: “Just go with it.”
Me, again: “Sorry.”
Me: “But dude, if we do all the companion quests, this game will never end. Like, never. And we run the risk of wasting time on quests like Drack’s where we don’t get anything out of it because we’ve forgotten it all!”
Me, again: “You raise a good point. You’re pretty smart.”
Me: “So are you.”
[Long, long pause.]
Me, Me again, in unison: “Hey! I know! Let’s ask Femmy for help! She’s way ahead! She’ll know what to do!”

Feminina:

I only just finished Drack’s quest and the Spender thing last night, and I had mostly forgotten what it was about myself.

“Oh right… He was doing something that was bad for krogan, stealing supplies or… Something…”

I agree, things can pile up, although I never had so much all at once, so it must be partly an accident of timing.

The turian thing is probably their ark, which was a kind of decent fight/story. I would say, pick a companion story and follow up… Go with those. There are big decisions and so forth in those quests.

It’s hard, though, because it is a freaking huge game.

On phone because I’m home from work with a kid claiming illness who now seems fine. Malingering already… It’s going to be a long year.

Butch:

Dammit O’Jr! Do not trick your parents into a day off when I need advice!

Easy fix for malingering: Teach him that he’s going to school sick or not. I don’t care if I spread diseases. Good for herd immunity.

Feminina:

I’ll do that next time for sure.

He did seem tired last night, went to bed early and slept for 11 hours, but no fever and now he’s flopping around complaining about being bored.

You know, they have school for that!

Butch:

Is he not liking school?

Cuz that would suck.

As would this game not picking up cuz we’re turning into a parenting blog, and that just can’t happen.

Ok, so since you’re failing me on blogging, decided to play.

Do a priority op mission, I thought. It’ll be progress, I thought.

HA! I should have taken the fact I got lost on the way (Hey, man, star systems can look really similar…they all have that haze, asteroids, too many Applebee’s restaurants…) as a bad sign.

So I went to the Krogan place, and I’ve already forgotten how to spell it. And picked up new quests. I DID get to New Tuchanka and learned about the bomb plot. So that’s kinda, sorta progress, right? Right.

But it was cruel, man. Just plain mean. As soon as I got there, I went to look at how my priority mission was progressing and, guess what? It’s not a priority mission anymore! Nope. Bait and switch. Switch the bait. Poof! Gone. Here’s a list of of quests on a whole new planet. Enjoy!

And, I admit, I just can’t help myself. I kept saying “I am going to turn down some quests! I AM dammit!” And then I didn’t. Not a one. Hexagons…hexagons everywhere….

But at least I’m gonna go try to stop a bomb.

That remnant spaceship has “No save points” written all over it.

Temporary Tattoos for Everyone!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for some companion dialogue and story in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Well I THOUGHT I was going to have some good bloggage. I charged towards the main story mission! Main story missions have bloggage! Right? But no. It turned out to be farther away than I had hoped. So there was some fighting, there was me finding an outpost site that is still 36% short of me being able to use it, a couple memory triggers (I don’t count them as a waste of time cuz you get story), and FINALLY where the next bit was. And what did this main story mission get me? A busted transponder. Busted. And now I have to go talk to Gil on the Nexus. That was it.

It did lead to a pretty wonderful moment. I was with Drack and Vetra, and, when I found it, here’s me all “Hey! I found it! The transponder!” all bubbly and proud. Next shot: Drack and Vetra…a long slow look at it, then a long look at each other, then back at me, long pause then Drack: “That thing’s busted.”

The takes were so long I thought the game had glitched. But no, it was just mocking me, but doing it in a wonderfully shot way. Like them saying “She doesn’t get it, does she? You wanna tell her or should I?”

But then I was right near this murder scene. It was a little awkward, cuz I found the alive guy first, and I had a dialog option that said “Murdered Krogan” to which I said “What?” but picked it anyway, and was all “Your neighbor is dead!” to which I said, “What?”

But investigate I did, and now I’ve been vortexed into doing something with Reyes and Roekkar and there will likely be shooting cuz I’ll do that next.

In other words, this was one of those playing sessions where I moved things along, and I did…kinda…do stuff, but I don’t feel like I did anything. This game seems to have these sessions quite a bit. When you get to a checkpoint on a main story mission and a big side quest, you should have more bloggage than I have.

Feminina:

Ha! That’s so awesome. I don’t remember that moment specifically–I don’t think I had Drack and Vetra with me, and maybe with other companions the reaction wasn’t as dramatic. Very nice, though.

Although speaking of game glitches and long takes, I noticed that on Kadara specifically I get a LOT of driving issues. I’ll be going along in the Nomad, suddenly it’s not moving, then 5 seconds later it’s moving fine again. Weird, and not apparently dangerous since it’s always resolved itself quickly, but it happens quite frequently on that planet. It may not be an issue with your fancy PS Pro, though.

Reyes…Roekaar…shooting…sounds about right.

I didn’t do anything last night. We’re still working out the groove of lunch preparations, getting ready for school in the morning, etc. We have to leave the house half an hour earlier, which kind of cramps ones style.

Butch:

Ah yes. We’re lucky, in that we have loads of time in the morning cuz the kids wake up so damn early. Plenty of time.

I also remember when Junior was in kindergarten, and we dutifully packed lunches cuz healthy and economical and all that shit. Then, somewhere, I think first grade or so, maybe late kindergarten, it just got to be such a pain in the ass that we said fuck it and now they buy lunch. All you need to do is go to a cafeteria and see who’s eating what to know which parents have said “fuck it.” At least, these days, school lunch is a whole lot healthier than it was back in my day. Salads and whole wheat and baked instead of friend and stuff. My school had beige things and Tastykake coconut cream pies for sale. For real.

You got full day kindergarten or half days and after school programs?

It was awesome. Those two are so gonna wind up together. They have such a great rapport. I LOVED that when we got to Kandara they both just left together to do something TOTALLY shady. Ryder all “Do I want to know?” and both of them, in unison: “Nope.”

Good stuff.

I hadn’t noticed any NOMAD glitches. Odd. No, my shiny NOMAD is doing just fine. And I got used to my upgrade pretty quickly.

Feminina:

They CALL it full day, but it starts at 8:00 and ends at 2:00, which is pretty much nobody’s idea of a full day except theirs. So we make use of the before and after care, extending the day from 7 to 5:30.

We’ve been getting up early too, like 5:40, but we have to leave the house at 6:30, and O’Jr. wants to watch his morning video, so things get tight. It’ll be easier once we move: the house is only 10 minutes walk from school instead of half an hour.

I contemplated just paying for lunch, but he said he wanted to bring it, so for now, we’ll pack. I also read somewhere that they eat more if they bring lunch because they have more time TO eat, not having to wait in line first, but whatever…I’m sure we’ll revisit the question at some point. And yeah, the lunch menu isn’t that terrible, so it’s not a big deal. One great thing? The school isn’t nut-free, so we can make him peanut butter sandwiches!

Drack and Vetra are great together. I don’t know if I see them TOGETHER together, though. Their banter feels more like good friends. They’ll probably start a blog.

Butch:

Hey, that ain’t bad. Our K, two days a week, is only 9-1230. Take it.

Yeah, that nut free thing is tough. My kids, there’s a nut eatin’ table at lunch, so they bring nuts, but the classrooms…shit. They have to take a little snack, and you can’t send anything that even has those “Processed on a machine that might have, maybe, in some other plane of existence, had a nut near it” labels. Like, people, if your kid is eating in the same room as a bunch of elementary school kids who have the peanut butter eating table, they have been exposed to more nuts than the ritz/cheese sandwich crackers. My kids, when they eat peanut butter, which they do daily, get it on every part of their body, which they then manage to use to touch every inch of the house, including the ceiling, on their way to “wash up.” Which I put in quotes on purpose. I see no reason the kids at the nut table are doing anything differently. That room, and most of the rooms near it, are covered with a sheen of peanut oil if they let kids eat peanut butter there. Like my house.

Sorry. I tend to rant about this shit.

Junior was all into the whole “I want to bring lunch cuz mommy and daddy know what I like and isn’t it sweet they do this” thing until he realized that buying lunch meant things like pizza and chicken sandwiches. Turns out he knows he likes pizza and mommy and daddy aren’t sweet enough to pack it.

Drack and Vetra’s blog I would so read. It would be the second best blog on the internet.

Feminina:

I’m with you on the nut rants. It makes the little snacks (we have to send them as well) so much easier! “Here, have some peanut butter crackers, or at the very least some other crackers that were processed in a facility that uses machinery that may also at some point in its history have processed nuts.”

I mean, I feel for people whose kids have serious allergies–there’s no way to NOT ever touch anything that was once touched by a nut, or by a kid covered in a thin film of nut oil. It’s got to be tough.

We would constantly be linking to Drack and Vetra’s blog, because it would be so awesome.

Butch:

“This product was made in the same time zone as a nut.”

CAN’T TAKE IT!

And you can’t send in home made stuff! Back in ye olden times, when we were kids, not only did I play games, I went to school. There was a tradition that a kid, upon his birthday, would bring in a batch of cookies or something to share with the class. This was awesome, cuz, well, cookies, but also because the kid would feel super awesome as the provider of same. Now, the no fun brigade makes it so that can’t happen.

Weak.

It’s angry Thursday!

At least I have leftovers for the kids.

Feminina:

Wait, you can’t send cookies AT ALL, or just not homemade ones? I suppose I could understand no homemade (because you obviously cannot be trusted not to include something that touched a nut, you negligent monster), but if they’re going with no treats at all, well, that’s just a joyless monument to healthy eating.

We’re allowed to bring stuff for birthdays at daycare/preschool (even homemade). I have not heard the policy for kindergarten yet. Honestly, joyless or no, I don’t ENTIRELY mind a ban on treats because it means I don’t have to think about making/purchasing them, but that’s me being lazy again.

Although if edible treats are banned, it just means people will send in horrible little toys that end up everywhere in the house, so on second thought MORE COOKIES NOW!!!!

There’s just this creeping sense of failure that can start to set in where you feel you have to live up to the standards of random other parents in making sure YOUR kid takes in something as good as the LAST kid brought…bah.

Angry Wednesdays! I shouldn’t be held to standards!

Butch:

I suppose you can get store bought ones that come in packages with the whole no nut thing, but that pretty much limits you to graham crackers at best.

And it’s not to healthy eating, it’s anti-nut. Nuts ARE healthy! And it’s nothing homemade! You could send in homemade kale quinoa puffs, and no dice, cuz there MIGHT HAVE BEEN A NUT IN YOUR KITCHEN ONCE!

And Dude….did he do the little valentine card thing? DID HE? Because you know what they do now? Little teeny cards that have pencils! Little index card things that have pictures of monkeys and witty sayings like “You make me go ape!” with pencils that are IMPOSSIBLE to get into the index card, and EVERYONE has them! He’ll come home with 23 pencils. And he can’t even write well!

We’ve never had standards. Why start now?

Feminina:

Hear hear.

Standards: Never had ’em, never will.

He had a couple of the tiny pencils last Valentine’s, but they weren’t everywhere. Yet. And temporary tattoos, those are very big. I don’t actually mind those, because they are fleeting and they don’t take up a ton of space. If I’m in charge, it’s going to be nothing but temporary tattoos for every occasion, forever.

“I’m so proud of you for getting your PhD, son! I got you a sheet of diploma-themed temporary tattoos to share with your little friends.”

Butch:

Standards:

T SHIRT!!!!! 

(Saw that coming, didn’t you?)

And excellent plan for the PhD! Those are pretty great. Give those if you want people to like you.

If you want people to hate the fuck out of you, give them the scratch off picture thingies. Those ones that are black and you scratch off the black and there’s colors underneath? Like coloring only with a lot of black scraped off crap?

Yeah. Don’t do that.

Feminina:

Oh man, no. Those things were designed by and for people who like to use children as pawns in their long-running petty feuds with other parents.

Butch:

Especially against parents who have such meticulous children that they have to get every molecule of black off the fucking things.

You know. Parents like me.

Feminina:

Some parent out there hates you in particular. You must avenge this insult.

Time to break out…the glitter.

Butch:

You…..you MONSTER.

As an aside, it says a lot about MEA that I played a good hour, DID A STORY MISSION, and we ended up here…..

Feminina:

That is true.

It also says a lot about our powers of derailment.

If Only People Still Liked Presents

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Some minor spoilers for where to buy things in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Played, but didn’t get to anything interesting. I got in my shiny, awesome NOMAD all prepared to get to the “hunting the archon” main quest marker and off I went. I had resolve, man. I wasn’t going to magpie onto fetch kind of quests, or even side quests! No sir!

And I didn’t! I didn’t head towards ONE quest hexagon. I promise.

I did, however, go after every exclamation point hexagon. Every one. A couple of which were hard to find. But then I got back in the NOMAD! And…Mrs. McP came home.

In my defense, I was on the road, going in the direction the game obviously wanted me to go (the main road towards the main quest, after all) and I pass by this bigassed wind farm, with new quests, and Drack, fucking DRACK, pipes up all “Wow..this how they power the city…” If DRACK notices that it’s important, it HAS to be important. So the whole game was saying “Dude, stop and look.” So I did. Which meant I got nothing of substance done.

Is it magpieing when the game really, REALLY wants you do it? I’m not sure.

Feminina:

Hm. I don’t think it can really be magpieing in the strictest sense if the game is specifically telling you to do it. Then it’s more like “picking up another quest.” Which you will totally do at that power station.

Either way, though, I blame you not at all. Looking at every hexagon is how we do. I’m just impressed you managed to avoid the ones without exclamation points.

I…let’s see. I got some remtech for Peebee, did some stuff for Drack. Then the baby woke up all inconsolable for no reason, as they do from time to time just to keep things interesting, so I called it a night. Nothing much to report.

Butch:

I walked by three “find the bodies” hexagons. Right by them. Nope, didn’t even stop. Didn’t even switch the quest. Nope.

I did pick up those two quests. Sigh.

Oh, and two of my “On hold” quests became live again. Drack’s and the Fireman AI guys. That’s just mean, game. “You think you’re making progress? HA! I’m going to just hand you two quests you forgot about! You didn’t even DO anything and here’s two quests! You’ll NEVER PLAY AS CHLOE!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!”

Feminina:

It does that. You think you’re making good progress, clearing stuff up, and “oh, by the way, here’s some more of THIS!”

It’s a very large game. There is very much to do. I got to level 52 last night, so now, being over level 50, I can craft the ‘advanced’ N7 armor. That’s about the only thing I bother to research and develop. I remembered your fond words for the electric-bolt gun, but I couldn’t remember which gun I usually use and didn’t want to switch views to check and then come back, so I forgot about it.

Butch:

Oh, the gun rocks.

Also, in an effort to spend my money, I purchased both the kett shuttle model (of course) and an upgrade for the NOMAD that lets me see stuff though obstacles and all that from the NOMAD.

I will promptly forget I did this, and spend a good ten minutes trying to figure out exactly what the fuck those red outlined things are.

Sometimes, it’s better to just keep your money.

Feminina:

I want the kett shuttle model! (I did see your screenshot of it.) Where did you buy it?

The downside of never buying things is that you rarely bother to look at what merchants are selling, and on the rare occasion that they have something cool, you miss it.

I also want that Nomad upgrade! I generally buy all the Nomad upgrades I can find, but again, I’m not in the habit of shopping at this point, so I probably didn’t remember to check that merchant’s Nomad column. And all the ones I’ve looked at lately have had nothing.

Siiiiigh.

Butch:

Ok, so in that power station, you meet this smuggler turian, and, if you take her useless task she turns into a merchant (you do not have to complete the task), and she’ll sell you the model.

I only look for models when I talk to merchants. For real. And every now and then, I get lucky.

Nomad upgrades, same place as the kett model. I haven’t bought the upgrades, because it seems that some of them change the way the thing drives, and I’m finally used to it, so if I change the handling I’ll just go back to being a drunken fool. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Feminina:

Darn it, I totally did her mission, too. I could have bought that model and upgrade!

Now I’ll probably have to go back there just for that. Because…ship model, man. I was just on Kadara, too, but no matter. Ship model.

“Pathfinder, why are we going all the way back across the cluster to a planet we were all convinced we’d finished with? The wrapping-up celebration is still going on!”

“Ship model.”

Of course this imagined conversation is silly: everyone knows better than to ever be convinced they’re finished with any planet. I certainly do. Some currently ON HOLD quest will pull me back there someday, I just know it.

But I can’t wait that long, because ship model.

Butch:

They’d understand. They might be a little hurt, though.

“Why is she in there building models when she could be flirting? Something is wrong.”

It’s a lovely model.

Feminina:

“Why doesn’t she ever give me models to work on? I love tiny crafty projects! My approval would go sky high, if her character screen tracked that kind of thing.”

Butch:

I wish they tracked approval! I wish everyone did.

Feminina:

How much easier would life be, if everyone came with an approval meter?

And the presents in DAO were cool, too, because you actually had to pay attention and think about who would like what. It’s not like you find a pair of fancy shoes that’s tagged “For Leliana”–you have to have had that conversation with her, so you knew she liked shoes.

And yeah, that was sometimes frustrating (I carried a few weird things around for ages, wondering who on earth wanted them, and gave a couple of things to people who were completely indifferent to them, meaning I wasted that chance to really impress someone else), but it made the characters more individual, made you think about them as individuals, in a cool way.

Ah, Dragon Age Origins. How I loved thee!

If I remember correctly, DA2 had already moved away from that, with only a few ‘gift’ items that were specifically tagged for certain people so you couldn’t accidentally (or on purpose!) give Anders’ favorite hat to Isabela or whatever.

So considering how quickly they abandoned presents, the mechanic must not have been as popular with everyone else as it was with us. Although why, I don’t know!

Butch:

Yeah, the DA2 mechanic was watered down. It’s like you bought them wrapped, and the merchant was all “I dunno…I found this and it said ‘For Merrill.’ I have no idea who Merrill is. What it?”

Man, DAO was good. Except the deep roads.

Feminina:

It was so damn good! Even the Deep Roads. (I think you went to them sooner than I did, so I was higher level and they weren’t QUITE as horrifying for me…though they still prompted the immortal line “Welcome to Spidertown. Population: Spiders.”)

I was so disappointed when every game after that wasn’t full of presents and romance and angsty companions. We’re lucky I even stuck with games at all.

Mass Effect helped, of course.

Butch:

And here you are, shooting bows, following fireballs, even, dare I say it, wooing sorceresses.

I’m so proud of you.

Feminina:

I have several times recently, when seeing red dots on the map that are located behind a wall or something, thought fondly of that wonderful loophole in DAO where you could just stand outside a closed door and call down lightning storms on the people inside, then stroll on in once everyone was dead.

I don’t at all blame them for fixing that, but man, it was fun.

Butch:

That’s how Morrigan and I courted. I’d do fire storm, she’d do tempest, at the same time, everyone would die, we’d say “Was it good for you, too?”

Feminina:

Good times, man. Good times.

Butch:

They were. They so were.

But on companions, I still don’t get why you keep having Drack get knocked out. Drack is a fucking tank. Yesterday, I was pinned by a sniper, and I hear Drack all “AIOUAEORIUAAAA” and he leaps forwards like he’s the damn tick, kills three dudes, then, in two leaps, jumps up the tower, kills the sniper with two whacks, and done. Problem solved. I could land the Tempest upon him and he’d be fine. He takes so much of the tactics out of combat. Without him, you’re all thinking “Ok, there’s cover, I can use this gun, this power…” With him you just say “I’ll sit here and drink and iced tea until everyone is dead.”

Feminina:

He hasn’t been knocked out lately. Maybe because I finally remembered to level him up. Ahem.

Turns out companions have all kinds of cool abilities they can use in combat! Who would have imagined!

Butch:

Uh, I would have imagined.

As would the tip that comes up every time you have skill points REMINDING YOU YOU HAVE SKILL POINTS.

That imagines.

Feminina:

Yeah, but I see it so often, I’ve learned to ignore it.

I level up every 20 minutes (or so it sometimes seems), I can’t be expected to go spending skill points every single time!

I’ll do it later. Much later. When I have 72 points saved up.

Butch:

Just use the auto level up button. That’s what I do. For them, not for me.

Feminina:

I can’t do that! That implies I don’t care about them!

No, far better to just leave them with 12th level skills even though we’re now level 50.

Butch:

No, it shows you TRUST them. You TRUST them to increase their blood rage.

Feminina:

But I can’t! If I could trust them, they’d already have done it! If they need me to tell them to do it, they must also need me to tell them what to do.

There’s no getting out of this circular logic. Don’t even attempt it.

Butch:

That made my brain hurt.

Good reason to start drinking early.

Feminina:

Happy to help out.

There’s No Good Shopping in This Galaxy

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for companion/theme points in Mass Effect: Andromeda and Dragon Age: Origins

Butch:

Ok, I got nothing cuz NYC. But the trip was good. Ate too much, walked a ton, went to the top of Rockefeller Center which was cool. I have pictures; they’re great.

But I did not play games.

But know what I have right now? A good 45 minutes to myself!

I’m gonna go do a priority op.

Feminina:

I didn’t do anything involving food or walking, but I did play. Trade-offs.

I did a bunch of running around. Got into the kett facility on Eos that we were talking about. Note: it is Eos’ version of the endless battle with no save points. However, since I’m now level 46 or something, it was not as difficult as previous iterations of this theme. Also, Peebee’s drone was a big help. Love that thing. I thank you for alerting me to its awesomeness.

Finished Jaal’s personal mission. Need to do Drack’s and I think that’s everyone.

Kind of? maybe? Eventually? Looking forward to where I’ll be ready to move towards what looks like maybe the ending. Although it will probably only be step 1 of 147 steps in the ending, because such is game life.

But first I have to take care of a few dozen things, you know how it is.

Butch:

Yeah, well now I have MORE things…

Cuz I got to Kandara or Harrfalalal or wherever.

There is always a port. This port has a bar. This bar has purple lights.

I always wonder what is going through the mind of every outcast alien in everything. Something like “Hey, yeah, we’re having to run and scrounge to make our own living, but make sure you grab those purple lights that no one in the civilized place wants.” Maybe you can prevent uprising by not bringing purple lights. Then no one will steal them.

I’ve decided that I’ll do the interesting stuff, but I’m not gonna magpie. Charge blindly on!

Unless it looks interesting.

I did the whole port bit, met the suave dude you probably banged already, and now I just got outside the port into the badlands. Not bad.

The interesting part (besides the purple lights) was the bit with Lexi. She tells Jaal that the Kett have no angara in them, and you have to either tell Jaal to give up hope or not. I told him “There still might be a way,” because I’m hopeful, but I didn’t really believe it, which was one of those game moments that makes you think about why you did something, and wonder if you’re really like that in real life. That was good. Maybe I should have told him. Many times, in this game, we try to do right, but we end up hurting people. That little “nice” icon can be misleading, and I give the game credit for that.

Feminina:

Reyes? Yeah, I may have made out with him. No spoilers.

As is every planet, Kadara is packed with stuff to do. Some of it interesting! We’ll talk. Later.

I also found that bit with Lexi and Jaal very interesting (and very pertinent to our previous discussions about the value of hope). Like you (of course), I picked the optimistic answer, all rah rah positive thinking “don’t give up, there could still be a way!” And it was quite interesting that Lexi then says we’re not really doing him any favors by encouraging him to hang onto that hope in the face of all available evidence.

It’s especially interesting since she’s a doctor and one could consider kettness, at least in this context, as a disease. We, as our (real world) culture encourages, are acting as if every illness is surmountable if approached with enough determination: sure, we can beat this thing, cure this person of being kett!

But in fact, some diseases are not surmountable, and sometimes it may be more useful for a doctor to help us come to terms with that reality, than to halfheartedly allow for the possible theoretical existence of some never-before-seen miracle cure.

As we discussed before…when does hope help keep you motivated, and when does it keep you clinging to some image of reality that will never come to pass? Like you, I was left thinking “yeah, that might have been kind of patronizing, I probably should have just told him the truth.” But who knows? Maybe that would have broken his heart.

I appreciated the question, though. Complicates matters in a thoughtful way.

Butch:

I’m going to try very hard to find the interesting stuff and ignore the rest. Though that’s gonna be hard. Like, the dudes who are all “find five bodies,” and one wants justice and the other plunder. Is it a fetch quest? Or moral themes? Who knows?

You do. Should I waste my time?

While yes, some diseases are insurmountable, one could counter that they’re insurmountable TODAY (Mrs. McP being one such person that would do), and we just haven’t beaten them YET. Others think that, well, no one gets out of this life alive, and we have to accept that.

So it’s weird with Lexi/Jaal/Us. One could say that we’ve found one kett. One. And she’s gonna give up based on one scan? I wasn’t ready to do that. But maybe that’s because I’m married to Mrs. McP.

Lexi could be right. She could be right in the sense that SOMEDAY we’re gonna beat the Kett disease, but that day is so far into the future that it’s silly to give Jaal hope as he’s never going to actually see anyone cured.

My grandfather, decades ago, wrote a book in which he asserted, in very scientific terms, that cancer would be eradicated. He’s likely correct. But that didn’t stop him from dying of cancer forty years after he wrote the book. Was he wrong to write it? Did he give false hope to the millions of people who have died of cancer since he wrote it? Or is it important to give hope so people like Mrs. McP keep trying?

See today’s post. Gramps the pathfinder. Successful even if he didn’t beat it himself.

Wow. Never thought he’d come up in the blog. Must be Monday.

Nice little scene, anyway. Too bad it was followed by half an hour of picking up tasks.

Feminina:

That particular quest did not result in any extended thought-provoking action, no. It was a straightforward “go scan all the bodies, come back, decide whether to give the info to the person wanting to use it for justice, or the one wanting to use it for profit.”

I picked justice, because I already had more money than I knew what to do with at that point. I never buy anything except Nomad upgrades, so it just accumulates. It might have been a tougher call if I’d actually needed the credits for something.

They should have more ‘useless’ things to spend money on, like the fish and model ships in ME2. I bought the hell out of those. Or changes of clothes, like we talked about once. I would buy so many changes of clothes! (Typical of a lady, right? I’ll say it so you don’t have to, but you know you’d buy them too.)

Even presents for other people, like you could get in DAO. I’d buy those.

But guns and armor, I just don’t buy. I can’t even be bothered to look at what people have to sell. Maybe it’s awesome! Don’t care. I loot 50 guns and 80 pieces of armor every day, and if I wait 20 minutes I’ll probably find something as good as the thing you’re selling. Even if I don’t, I’ve made it this far without the thing you’re selling, so I clearly don’t need it that badly. I’m just not interested in spending time gun-shopping.

Speaking of clothes, this game especially should sell changes of clothes, because you actually WEAR casual clothes a significant amount of the time. There are all these non-combat situations where you’re not in armor, and it could be fun to have things you could pick up in different markets or whatever, to add to your closet. You could buy all sorts of different outfits for Geralt, but I never did, because he never really had any reason to wear them (aside from a couple of very specific instances, which were awesome–fancy dress balls!!!!–but rare). If Geralt had spent half his time sauntering around in casual dress, I would have had 10 changes of clothing lined up, just to keep things lively. Missed opportunity here, BioWare.

Butch:

Well, fuck that quest, then.

Dude, I have no idea how many credits I even have. I don’t even go to merchants anymore. I already have what MUST be the most awesome paint job there is, which is bright metallic gold. It looks fucking BADASS on Eos. Catches the sun like you wouldn’t believe. In 4K, no less.

So there’s nothing else I need.

Buying clothes, well, depends. Are the changes of clothes hot? Is there burlap lingerie? (HOLY SHIT it’s been too long since we could work that in!)

I think there are model ships! I have two, which I bought on the nexus. I haven’t seen any since, and I did look before I gave up. There’s more space on the shelves, though, so I’m missing something.

At least there was pointless bad dancing. I did that today. And, I think in a throwback to the infamous Miranda ass shot during dialog, the camera did linger for a good long time on my ass. A twofer on the silly callbacks. Nicely done.

My Ryder does have a nice ass, I’ll give her that.

Man, that was SUCH a great mechanic, the present giving. And I think players other than us loved it! I have no idea why they abandoned that. It would work so well in every bioware game!

And I have the gold paint job, and I have the new ELECTRIC BOLT assault rifle I built, which makes things go the fuck AWAY. So what else is there to buy? Besides burlap lingerie?

As Geralt, you would’ve wandered around naked. Or in a towel. You could do that in DA and DA2. Not that I checked. Or did…or….um….

BURLAP LINGERIE!

That didn’t help.

Man, we went everywhere today.

Feminina:

Dude, we ARE game twins. That’s the exact paint job I have for the Nomad! I mean, it’s so shiny, why would anyone pick anything else?

Now that you mention it, I have a couple of model ships too, but I haven’t seen any to buy, just found them lying around. And yeah, the present mechanic was great, I’m not sure why they got rid of it. Although it was intricately tied up with that whole “approval meter” system that they also got rid of in favor of focusing strictly on loyalty missions. Maybe they felt the approval/disapproval scheme was too complicated. One was always thinking about how so-and-so would react to something, which I still tend to do out of habit (is Drack going to like this or not?) but which doesn’t actually seem to matter anymore–none of the companions in MEA seem to feel that strongly about anything I do other unless it relates to their personal missions.

Which is kind of too bad, it was always an interesting element to have to think about how different people would think about the things you did, but again, maybe they thought it was too complicated? Or, for whatever reason, just didn’t fit the mood they’re going for.

Fallout 4 kept it, so it’s not that games in general are moving away from individual companion reactions.

Butch:

For real that’s your Nomad? Sometimes we creep me out.

It’s too bad the character’s don’t have more of an individual reaction. I think there’s a reason that the characters in DAO still have such resonance and such a following (and no, I am not going to make a Morrigan reference here. Wait, I just did. Shit). We got to KNOW them. They reacted to what we did all the time, like people. The gifts were part of that. Leliana’s shoes, Sten’s snack cakes. It gave you a glimpse into their little quirks. Sex jokes aside, one of the best moments in the whole damn game was giving Morrigan the golden mirror. It was the first time, and one of the few times, that we saw Morrigan (who is a great character, in all seriousness) with a human side (it was also a perfectly acted scene).

Bioware games since….lack that. Sure, Varric is good, and I liked Sera and Cullen and Iron Bull. They’re well written characters. But I didn’t KNOW them like I knew the characters in DAO, and they don’t stick with me.

I’m sitting here trying to remember the squadmates in ME3, and I can’t even remember. Was Garrus in that one? Miranda and Jack weren’t…uh…Liara? I think? I’m serious, I can’t remember. Even with their personal missions, it just doesn’t stick as well.

It’s good, I think, that some games are still keeping the individual companion reactions.

I hope like holy hell that when Horizon two comes out they let us make some choices in who we side with/try to romance/etc. Erand and Avad and Petra and the cool lady who’s name I forget are so cool, and seeing them react to what you do with the others would be SO awesome.

Themes Already Forgotten

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Important visitor’s information about Grand Central Station

Butch:

Travel blogging.

There better be rum buckets. I don’t cross state lines unless there’s rum buckets.

First there’s Meatball’s preschool shindig. There better be rum buckets.

Feminina:

Buckets. Of. Rum. Accept no substitutes.

I played a bit last night. It was a very themey evening, with a lot of things I happened to do all at that time, conspiring to present the message “the truth may not always be the best answer.” Hm.

So taking this as an omen…maybe go ahead and lie about the rum buckets? People may tell you lying about your drinking is a sign you have a problem, but maybe THEY’RE the ones who have a problem. A problem called uncontrollable jealousy, because they wish the buckets were theirs.

Butch:

There’s gonna be booze. My dad’s there.

Glad Mrs McP is driving.

Don’t forget the themes!

Feminina:

I fear forgetting the themes. Good thing I won’t have buckets of rum to drive them from my head.

Enjoy the booze!

Butch:

Don’t. Forget. Themes.

Even though god knows when I’ll ever play again.

I’m on a train now. Exciting bloggage. Mrs McP drove like a pro.

Still no booze.

And we’re here.

Tried to get a good picture of grand central but you know? Place is kinda busy.

Couldn’t live here. Nice, though.

Feminina:

And there we have our key travel insight! Enjoy the trip.

Organizing a 700-Item To Do List

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Minor, extremely vague spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Played a bunch, but only magpied. Found some drones, put the pendant on a mountain, put the transmitter up, etc. Only thing of note was finding the exile turned kett hunter who told me to go shoot the fuck out of some bases, which I did, and found a recording by someone called “Invictor,” who I fully believe IS the guy who hired me, but you know, so don’t spoil.

But not much themey, and no flirting.

But here’s something I ponder:

When Mr. O played this (before we did), he really harshed on the way quests are filed in the jounral, the whole “Where you got it” deal. He found this confusing and frustrating, and I have to agree. That said, I can’t really harsh on the way this game does quests because of the hexagons on the map. The hexagons on the map ARE AWESOME. Just open, say “What’s where,” done.

Now, other games put up helpful little quest things on the map. Fine. Other games let you hover over said markers to see what the quest is. Fine. But THIS game lets you hover, see what the quest IS (not just the name, which is never helpful, but “so and so has asked you to do such and such”), what’s NEXT, and…this need to be in every game…the ability to click on it to select it.

This is so awesome I overlook the legitimate criticisms leveled by Mr. O. And given how awesome the map/quest feature is, I wonder why he was so bothered. I love it.

Feminina:

I agree, I tend to largely ignore the quest journal because it’s confusing, but I LOVE the hexagons/click-to-activate system. I basically just go somewhere and check the map for hexagons to see what I need to do there. I do whatever part of Multi-part Quest A is on that planet, then select something else and forget Quest A until I happen to land on the place that has the next bit.

I only really look at the journal if I can’t decide where to go next, and am flipping through trying to find out where I can go that has the most stuff to do.

I’m not sure why the journal organization is so unappealing, because it’s more or less the same set-up as in DAI, and I liked DAI’s system. In theory, it should be straightforward: organized by location or type, what’s so hard about that? But for some reason it just doesn’t click for me. Maybe because quests are only under one heading, even when more than one apply…like, a loyalty quest is under the companion missions, but at the moment you need to go to Eos, so you kind of want to find it there also/instead. Maybe we’d like to see them in more than one place, if multiple categories apply? Maybe we’d like to be able to sort them with ‘tags’ like we can do with blog posts? To be able to click on a location or a person’s name or a category like ‘main quest’ and see everything that has an active quest step that applies there?

Hm.

Butch:

Yup. I’m the same way. Or if I’ve forgotten the priority one. I will say “Ok, where am I really supposed to be?” and check that, but the rest? Nope. That endless list of tasks? Cheerfully ignored.

The click to activate system needs to be in every game forever.

I ALSO like the hexagons of inactive quests appearing on the compass thingy. Not every game does that. There have been times where I’m toodling along and I notice something I’m not doing, so I check the map and find out. How many times, in other games, have you done a quest, picked another, and it turns out you ran right by the thing you were supposed to do for that half an hour ago? The “I WAS JUST THERE!” thing. I do not miss the “I WAS JUST THERE!” thing.

Yeah, separating out the allies quests was a dumb move. I, like, you, do the “so what place has the most?” trick, which is fine when you just click on a planet, but I never remember which ally wants me to be where, so I end up clicking through those one by one to check. And there have been times where a planet only has two or three quests in its tab, but there’s three or four ally things there, which changes my mind.

I think it’s hard when you have a game with this many active quests at once. Which means, I think, the REAL criticism to level at this game is: it has too many active quests at once. Besides the fact we can all agree on the fact it has WAY too many collectibles…I mean tasks…it didn’t do a very good job doling all the side stuff out in manageable doses. You pretty much hit Eos, and everyone wanted something there, AND it made the Tempest and Nexus explode with exclamation point hexagons. Too much at a time.

Compare TW3. There, the villages were spaced out, it took a LONG time to get from region to region (remember how long it took me to get to Skellege?) and there weren’t three dozen monster contracts in each place, so by the time you got to the next thing, you had mopped up most of the stuff you had to do anyway. Shit, I WENT to Skellege because I pretty much ran out of stuff to do that wasn’t in Skellege.

That type of pacing makes much more sense both for narrative and gameplay, and would solve the problem of a quest list that’s too long to be manageable.

Feminina:

Hm. I don’t really feel that I have too many quests, and as we’ve occasionally discussed in the past, some of them will go ‘on hold’ which limits the number you have actually active at any point (which I appreciate!). I just find the listing unintuitive, I guess. I don’t know.

This is probably one of those mechanics things like inventory management that seems like it should be boring and straightforward, but is actually really complicated and difficult to do well.

“Just list the quests and the stuff! How hard can it be? Hahahahahahahahaha.”

Butch:

Nah, man, there’s a ton. And even more if you count the on hold ones. Eos looked like a hexagon factory blew up last night. There are a ton. And I got three more last night! It’s getting silly. Often, in games, there’s a bit of joy in a new quest. “Ooo! What’s this? Story! Or at least Coolness!” Now, my heart kinda sinks when I see a new quest, but I take it anyway because they made just enough of them cool to be worth it.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot–there are definitely a ton. I’m just saying it’s not the quantity that I personally have a problem with. I can see how the number might be overwhelming, but I don’t really find it that bothersome myself.

Butch:

Well, see, you used collectible moldy flags as a way to someone’s heart. You’re still conditioned to think that way.

“Ok Suvi, found all the drones. No? Ok…hit the rocks for science. Still no? Uh….ok, maybe if I do the 12 new tasks I just got….”

Me, I’m good with the snacks.

Speaking of flirting (and we should, as it is almost Friday), we’ll never know, but who on earth would flirt with Cora? What must that be like? She’s icy, man. Icy.

Feminina:

It’s true, I did. And I’d do it again! Anyway, you did it too, you just wanted his loyalty for different reasons.

Let’s not pretend only one of us was involved with the moldy flags. We all have the mold of those flags on our hands! The touch of mildew that will never wash clean! WE HAVE ALL BEEN STAINED.

Cora’s OK…she’s just really, really focused. Maybe the perfect partner for someone who is also really focused and doesn’t want someone clingy who’s going to be constantly sending “my dearest” emails. I’d flirt with her if she liked women! But then, I apparently believe in flirtation as a leadership technique. It’s like a team bonding exercise, you know?

“Hey everyone, those ‘trust fall’ things are super boring, let’s just play spin the bottle instead.”

BioWare: valuable lessons for managers everywhere.

Butch:

I’d only work at a place like that if it had hot sorceresses.

We DID flirt with Cora! It’s how I knew she didn’t dig me!

In laws are here. We’re off to NYC tomorrow. Travel blogging from midtown! Start spreading the news!

Feminina:

Are you going to be a part of it? New York, New York?

The blog is enriched by your wandering.

Butch:

Always looking for new tags, man. Sometimes that means meandering.

And two nights without my kids.

Feminina:

So, booze?

Butch:

Booze.

Finding Love, and It Running Away From Us

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for romance options in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Well, that was disappointing.

Gave Suvi her snack and got nary a smile. Or another part of the quest. Sad.

Hooked up with PB. Yet more coy Bioware sex. The box said Nudity and Strong Sexual Content. Where’s that been at? I mean, ok, good for the narrative, but dudes. This is some serious T for Teen stuff here. Two for two on that.

But seriously, I do like the idea of PB being about casual sex. She’s that sort of person. And the fact that she likely ISN’T the person you end up with DESPITE the sex, and that she seems OK with that, is an interesting wrinkle in games.

Sure, there’s been romance and sex in games. Our Fridays wouldn’t happen without it. But in such games, sex is either a product of love (you don’t get the scene until you commit to the lover you’ll have at the end of the game), something you do with someone who you damn well might love (Say, Yen in TW3. You were, magically, in love when the unicorn bit happened) or with an NPC who probably doesn’t even have a name, like a prostitute. I can’t remember a game with a character, a fleshed out, interesting, important, named character, a character you fight next to, who offers you “no strings attached” sex and seems to mean it.

I’m sure we’ll joke later, but this was, from a narrative/character standpoint, interesting.

But then the session went to shit. I said “Ok, I’ll do some STORY! Some THEME! I’ll take Cora to Eos! Do that asari ark bit!” So I did! And talked to the Asari I was supposed to talk to. Who told me to go back to fucking VOELD!

What?

And while I was there, I picked up, like 22 tasks.

What a tricky trick, game! They know if they say “Hey, come back to Eos to do 22 tasks” no one will do it. So they do the whole “Well, Kallo and Suvi say to!” and, when that doesn’t work, they bait and switch you on a character quest!

Sleazy, game.

But I was pissed so I trucked out to put that weirdo’s transponder up on a mountain or some shit, which took forever because mountain. Then I decided to go get another forward station, and, when I did, there was this rather, well, rather FUCKING HUGE Kett thing with a force field around it right there. And a quest pops: “Defeating the Kett: Get inside the Kett power plant” or some shit.

It was like the game was all “Oh you found that? Oh yeah…that. That big, obvious thing in walking distance to your outpost. Heh. Forgot about that. Uh…..this is awkward. How about…A QUEST? There. We cool?”

So I stopped because I have totally lost the thread of everything. I’ll get it back.

Feminina:

Nothin’ from Suvi? Tough breaks. I don’t even get a heart option anymore. She’s written me off entirely. I think I do have her snacks quest…but now I won’t be in any rush to complete it. Not when I have Jaal and his adoration and personal loyalty mission also waiting for my attention! At least I know he’ll appreciate it.

Or not, I guess. I mean, we THINK we know what he means by all this outpouring of “my dearest” but maybe in his mind it’s a love so pure that no physical contact will ever be needed between us.

I know exactly what you mean with that kett facility in the middle of nowhere on Eos. I also just kind of ran into it, and was puzzled. What the hell, really? I wandered off, so I actually still have to get back to that.

But right now I’m working on Cora’s quest with the asari ark, and then I have a lot of stuff to do on Aya.

Butch:

I dunno, man. It’s all good. The codex still says we’re on our way to more than friendship. The codex didn’t let me down when I was courting Mrs. McP. It’ll do right by me here. But jeez, I DID drop 10 whole credits on those. Should have at least flirted.

Either way, man, no to Jaal. I’d take chaste behind the airlock moaning over that.

What WAS that kett facility? Considering I sorta did do that whole “I’m going to drive this NOMAD where no game developer expected me to drive this NOMAD” thing because I wanted to find the mountaintop for the weirdo, maybe I wasn’t supposed to have seen it yet. I, once again, did what I tell Junior not to do: go where the game doesn’t exactly want you to go.

So maybe I insult the game. Maybe it’s not all “Oh…yeah…that…” and it’s more “DUDE what the hell are you doing here NOW? That was gonna be part of a big reveal! I bet you used to peek at your Christmas presents, too, didn’t you? Sheesh. Well, there’s the surprise. There’s a Kett thing here. You happy? Hmm?”

Shit, really Aya? Again? Really? Shit.

You didn’t do the “no strings” thing with PB, did you? You wanted strings. You have strings, don’t you?

Feminina:

I don’t have strings! No strings here. Totally stringless chaste airlock moaning.

And you’re right, we don’t usually see this in games–it’s tends to fall out as either “serious love interest” or “meaningless sex with a stranger”. This sort of casual, major character, friends with benefits setup is different.

And I’m into it! I mean, not every person who thinks the PC is kind of attractive necessarily wants to swear eternal fidelity. Some do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. People are allowed to want serious love interests. But some don’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. It would be pretty interesting if there was some character that we could get more into that they were into us, so if Peebee after a couple of airlock sessions were to say “OK, I’m kind of over this, let’s just be work friends,” and we’d have to deal with that. I could totally see Peebee saying that, too, actually. We shall see.

“You know what? Kinda bored now. On to newer frontiers, thanks for the memories!”

Butch:

That would be cool! And, as we’ve talked about in this game, adding to the idea that these people are people.

And it would be good to cross the final line: In games, romance is still, usually, completely in the hands of the player. Once you start down the heart road, it’s yours to complete. You never really have three successful flirts followed by a “You know? I’ve met someone else, and…well…I’m gonna need that couch back….” Even the threesome of shame was brought about by the actions of the player, so even though Yen and Triss said “Yeah…no…” the thing they were saying “no” to was brought about by the player’s choice.

Even this set up with PB isn’t there. There was a dialog choice: “I want strings,” with the heart. I didn’t pick that, but I bet if you did, you’d get strings and a different set up. Love, commitment, etc. So even this modern “Hey, I’m a rogue academic, I’m all over the place, let’s just be all netflix and chillin'” set up was STILL the player’s choice, not hers. There still hasn’t been a game where a NPC just says “I’m into you, and we can do something, but on my terms.” And there should be! That would make the characters more believable!

(In terms of “all over the place,” one of the greatest dialog cutscene shots I’ve seen in forever was the shot of Ryder listening and following PB with her eyes as PB paced back and forth from one off camera side of the screen to the other. That was just great.)

And if you have no strings either, then where’s the strong sexual nudity content? I bet it’s with Suvi. The conservative religious one. You’ll see.

Feminina:

It’s totally Suvi! Doing nude, strongly sexy things you wouldn’t believe! But we shall never know. At least, I shall never.

That would be pretty great, if you were all flirting along, and then…”no, sorry, you’re nice and all but I’ve realized I REALLY like Drack. It’s not you, it’s him. Being more attractive than you.”

Speaking of which, where is my krogan lover, damn it? Drack won’t flirt.

Butch:

Drack’s too old. Kesh is the one for you.

Suvi is always licking things….my kinda woman.

THERE we go. Phew. We were starting to worry me, there. I finally get some zero G lovin’ with a midriff baring hottie, and we were all analyzing it. Seriously analyzing it! What’s with us? I suppose it’s Wednesday, not Friday.

I should only hook up on Thursday.

Cryptic but awesome T SHIRT!!!!!

Feminina:

Cryptic is a fine quality in awesome shirts. And yes, we SHOULD only hook up on Thursdays. On Wednesday, I’m still trying to pretend to work.

Finding Love, Running Away From It

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Vague and confusing vault spoilers, some minor character-behavior spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Well, that didn’t lead to shooting at all!

What is it with black, glowing underground vaults and places called Meridian? I mean….shit. Haven’t we done this before?

Again, glad I played HZD first. Otherwise I’d’ve been pissed at it.

And flirted with Jaal just because habit. And now he’s all clingy. Jesus. That’s two broken hearts. Cuz I’m about to give Suvi her snack. Nudge, nudge.

Feminina:

Well, yay progress! I liked that they mixed up the vault experiences a little. Some combat, some casual strolling!

Poor Jaal. Mine is all adoring too. I dunno, I may return his love one day… After flirting with the rest of the galaxy. I mean, for science.

Butch:

Yeah, dude’s gotta chill. I mean, one damn heart response and I get a “my dearest” email. Like, dude. That’s it for you. Fuck science. Not literally. Would’ve been literally, maybe. But likely not.

Feminina:

Yeah, he doesn’t believe in playing it cool, that’s for sure.

Butch:

Never flirt with someone with no emotional filter.

Feminina:

See, that’s what I was (apparently wrongly) afraid of with Suvi! She was all “it’s so nice to have someone to talk to about faith,” and I was like “hey, too serious too soon! I fear your god abruptly revealing unto you that we were meant to be together forever.  I must back away.”

She’s been pretty chill, so that was an unfair assessment of her/her god, but I was worried.