Friday, December 29, 2017

My predictions for Star Wars Episode 9- SPOILERS!

After seeing the Last Jedi a few times, I have some ideas. Safe to say, spoilers ahead, you have been warned!

Next big bad: General Hux
Eventhough the movie ended with Kylo Ren being the Supreme Leader, I feel it will be General Hux in the end.
Why? He didn't hesitate to draw his weapon when Ren was unconscious on the floor. He didn't have the time to kill Kylo Ren, as he just came to.
Also, you could see he barely believed the story that Rey was able to kill Snoke, the entire pretorian guard and knock Ren out.
The First Order doesn't work the way the Sith did. There it was expected for the apprentice to kill the master at a certain point and take control, no questions asked.
It doesn't work that way with the first order, cause when you look closely you can see they are Hux's army, before they are Ren's.
Hux will find out Ren had to do with Snoke's death and Ren will be removed in some way.

Identity crisis: Kylo Ren 
Obviously. This man is a vat of anger and hurt, being torn between Ben Solo and his created persona Kylo Ren, whom serves as a convoluted coping mechanism. Mom and dad were hands-off and shipped him to train with Luke, who betrayed him. As much as Rey, he seeks to belong. He will either run into increased hostility by General Hux, or come to the realization that the First Order isn't the way to restore order to the galaxy. Either way, he will strike out on his own first, going through some kind of process and find his true self. First, there will be a lot of pain.

The Resistance. 
The Resistance has been decimated, but as General Organa states in the end: "We have everything we need." And I believe she's right. Poe Dameron has come to see that a victory at any cost is no victory at all and he gradually transforms from a hero to a leader. He's ready to step up. Finn learns an important lesson from Rose, that this war will be won by protecting what we love. EDIT: Upon seeing the movie once more, it's now obvious to me Finn has made a tremendous evolution. He was with the Resistance at first, because he was on the run and made friends with Poe and Rey. When he strikes out with Rose, it's mainly so Rey has a safe place to return to. Only during the process, does he realise where his place in all this is. It's with the Rebellion and it becomes obvious when he corrects Phasma with 'Rebel scum', when she calls him scum.
Rey has learned that the good guys also make mistakes, the way Luke did and that the Jedi order, as is, needs to die. She did take the Jedi scriptures and hopefully she will glean some insights, supporting what Luke said. Through her Force bond with Kylo Ren, she also learned that evil stems from hurt, abandonment and betrayal, much like she has experienced. Thusly opening the path, in my opinion, for a more balanced approach to the Force.

The Force and Force bond. 
It's obvious something needs to change, the Force is all about balance. There is good in the world, and there is bad. Life, death, etc. The word balance gets thrown around a lot and I believe that is were we are headed. Both the Jedi and the Sith are entirely too absolute. No attachments, no (romantic) love, no strong emotions as opposed to fully utilizing your impulses and passion to achieve your goals.
This picture is extremely important, cause I think this is definitely where they are working towards. Sometimes a bit of anger or fear is good when your life depends on it. Loving someone can be a good motivator in life, but the point is that one should be able to channel those feelings into something workable. So yes, Grey Jedi that are able to understand a wide range of feelings and look at conflict from all possible angles.

The Force bond between Ben and Rey is obviously not gone, as we see at the end of TLJ. Some believe this is Rey's final act of literally, closing the door on their relationship. I don't think it is. It's very obvious since the beginning that these two have a different vibe about them.
In the Force Awakens, Rey gets 'preferential' treatment as a prisoner. Poe gets beaten, dragged, beaten again and then interrogated by Kylo Ren. Not so with Rey, he carries her, she doesn't get 'softened up' and he actually stops 'probing' her mind once she says to get out of her mind. He also the only person who never lies to her. When she asks about her friends, he tells her honestly he doesn't know. Nor does he ever lie about Luke, her parents, his intentions, etc. I mean, even Finn lied to her in the beginning, understandably so, but he still did.
So yes, all that build-up to have it end that way? I don't think so. The connection is still alive, even after Snoke's death, so they find out. Even if he did bridge their minds in the beginning, I think only they are responsible for deepening and maintaining the bond. I even think Snoke had little to do with the bond. He sensed it through his apprentice and used it as yet another insult, another way to keep Kylo Ren small and humiliated.
So yes, there will be much soul searching and pain to live through before these two can begin to heal their wounds. But they will, and they will join up, and both will turn, but not to the dark or light, but to a balanced path that takes everyone into account.

Final battle:
The Resistance, supplemented by Rebels all over the galaxy, by First Order defectors and Ben Solo against Hux' First Order that will end up in a New Order, no ties to the Old/New Republic or the Empire, just something else.

Edit: Plus Rey makes a double bladed, staff like lightsaber. Yellow. I think. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What's wrong with current day games as per the golden circle.

Disclaimer: this is of course, opinion and interpretation, all of it.

The golden circle is a concept I discovered while having to watch a TED talk by Simon Sinek. I had my reserves while starting it, as most of those corporate things are overly contrived in my opinion.
However, the more he talked, the more I found myself nodding my head in agreement.
In short: 

The goal of any business is to make profit, let's not kid ourselves, and so it should be, we all got bills to pay.
The approach however, matters a lot. Most unsuccessful businesses, ideas, etc, start from the outer circle and go inwards.
Most successful businesses work the other way around. If you want to listen to his full explanation, you can find the link here.
Let's bring this to games nowadays.

Good example: Stardew Valley.
Eric Barone made this game on his own and his motivation was to make a game like his beloved Harvest Moon, but expand on certain aspects and perfect it, according to his opinion. That's the"Why"
The "How", he made this game, on his own, while working a day job, teaching himself most of the skills required to give shape to this game.
And last, the "What" It's a simulation game that lets you farm and make friends with the villagers.

Bad example: Mass Effect Andromeda
What: fourth installment in the Mass Effect series, full of micro-transactions, many plans for paid DLC.
How: Miss-managed from the beginning, many errors and conflicts within the production, sub-par writing, graphics, etc.
Why: Sell sell sell, DLC, loot boxes, apparel, etc.

That's why I'm afraid that Anthem will be a bust too. Producers were talking about a 10-year plan already. Read, 10 years of assured revenue from this franchise. The reasoning behind this could not be more wrong. It's like they aren't interested in publishing a good product now, but hook people on the promise of more content. Their "Why" is very obvious and honestly inspires little faith in me. Time will tell, I could be wrong, otherwise, I called it now.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda.

So, Andromeda is out, for nearly two weeks now, and up till now it has been a mess. I love Mass Effect, like I love Star Wars. Passionately and seemingly since forever. Where the original trilogy of games is like the original trilogy to me, Andromeda is definitely the Phantom Menace. It looks like Mass Effect, it sometimes feels like Mass Effect and your affection drives you to see the best in it.

And no, delivering a faulty product is not ok, not in any business, why should games be different. I've been in food retail the last decade and imagine the riot if you sell someone half a cheese for full price, while the other half is still being made and you will deliver it to them in small bits. 

Possible spoilers ahead, you have been warned.
The single player campaign started very slowly in my opinion, and after wrestling myself through the prologue, I thought it would definitely pick up steam. Well, it didn't. I kept saying to myself, come on, play on a bit more, perhaps then huh?
That's a bad sign. When I first played Mass Effect 3, I was counting down the hours at work until I could play again and completely lose myself in the experience.
In ME:A, my attention wandered after about half an hour of play, and what completely put me off was the fact that when I was talking to an NPC about why she joined the project, only her lips moved, and twice there was a jerky motion of her shoulders which is supposed to be a shrug, I guess.

I've played Knights of the old republic, Morrowind, etc. Not exactly high quality graphics. Heck I wouldn't mind a talking polygon, if it had an interesting story to tell. In a situation where the story is already pretty slow, the voice acting ok, albeit lacking a bit of passion, the moving lips is something I trip over. The immersion is already paperthin, so that's a deal breaker.

Then let's talk about Multiplayer. This is honestly the part I've been looking forward to most. Playing with my husband and friends is my favorite evening past-time. Here's a list of things that bother me.

  • Underpowered weapons and attacks. Example? A shield-less, basic mook took a charge, nova, a shot of a shotgun and shockwave to die. Even a combo won't fell them right away.
  • Overpowered melee. A team of Asari and humans beating up mooks twice their size? Likely...
  • Unable to charge weapons while running. Venom used to be my favorite gun. Charge it while I charged/ran at the enemies and unleash pandemonium. Now you have to walk or stand still. Which makes no sense in a game that is made for dynamic, mobile combat. 
  • Objectives. After five years there is almost no new objectives? The ones that would actually make sense, like an escort has been left out. It would make sense, since you have to move around, which is what they want in this game. All they left in are the ones that want you to be stationary. 
  • Only Krogan headbutts. I love the Krogan headbutt, but seriously guys. What happened to the ME3 Krogan that headbutted them, but also gave them a swift uppercut while attacking. Only headbutting Krogan look silly.
  •  Just today I got booted out a minute before extraction when I was playing in a random group. Of course, no way to rejoin. That's 20 minutes I'm not getting back, that's consumables spent to help my team, that's credits lost because you didn't make extraction. Not cool. 
  • Clunky and unresponsive UI. To me, it doesn't feel intuitive or logical at all, plus it takes a while to react. 
  • Strike team deployment often makes me lose connection.
  • Leaderboards only show yourself. 
  • I like the jetpacks tho.
 The sorry quality of this is making me sad. We work hard for our money, and I don't think it's being demanding to at least expect something that is playable.

Yeah ma'am, my face is tired too, from gritting my teeth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What 2015 was to me.


So, we're nearing the end of 2015 and this time of year naturally brings a lot of people to reflect upon the last 11 months. I'm no different.
It has been a tough year for the world and my tiny country. The attacks in Paris hit really close to home, as the masterminds behind it where a mere two-hour drive away from where I live. Scary stuff.

So scary even the teachers' in my kids' school lock the doors behind them whenever they pass through the school. Personally it's been quite the year too. At the end of 2014 I found out I had two herniated discs. I've explained the whole process in a previous post. Found here, for those interested.

Read more here.

Since then I've done some intensive physical therapy and I even started working again. Thankfully half-time, cause I really feel my neck when I get back. I was completely stressed out to start working again. As per usual, I worried too much and a couple of months later I really aced my performance review. Boss even gave me a raise :D

I also started streaming on the 3rd of march. Ten days prior to my operation. This descision has altered my life greatly. I still stream, whenever I find a pocket of time. It has also enabled me to talk to people I would have never met otherwise and with some of them I talk daily, like my girl Simmerplayer27. You are always so supportive and sweet. I love you my friend!

The most remarkable thing that happened to both my husband and me this year, was meeting Wiraqucha. On a certain day, I started playing Mass Effect 3 multiplayer on stream. It was just Ken and I, struggling to complete a mission as a duo, on silver difficulty. He said, hey, put it gold, I'll join. We were terrified, but he turned out to be really good at it. We started playing together more frequently and talking on Skype. We had a lot of things in common and we became friends fast.
He even visited us over the summer, we had a great week. Luggage was lost, castles were visited, burgers from hell eaten and trippy mini-golf played. He's also a great cook!
You are the brother we got to choose! Thanks for putting up with us, we do love you, even when we're blasting each other. (Ok, that's quite enough sap.)

This year, my dear nephew Floran also got his operation. I wrote a lot about it here, and if you haven't read it, please click the links below.

Post 1
Post 2: Update!

And allow me to update you live, right now!

Floran is in full revalidation! He's learning how to walk again, slowly, very slowly. He's also allowed to spend every other weekend at home. Here are some pictures of his progress.

He's making big strides, with the positivism only kids seem to possess. Big shout-out of appreciation to his parents, who went through hell and back. They still have a long road ahead of them, but I truly admire their dedication. Surely, they have moments when they feel low, that makes us human.

So the coming month will prove to be a busy one. I'm in food retail, so you can imagine we have our busiest days ahead of us. While it's hard work, it's also the time of year people are generally in good spirits. They are aware that waiting times at the cash register might be a touch longer, despite our best efforts.

So it's Sinterklaas (local holiday), Christmas, both my brother's and son's birthday coming up. Bye sweet money, I will miss you!
Roll on 2016, but don't forget to enjoy the rest of 2015 as well. Time starts to fly once you get older.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Update on Floran!

So a while ago I posted about the fundraiser benefit that was being held in my dear nephew's honor.
It's safe to say that it was a great succes!
In total we were able to raise almost 7000 euros! That included an art auction, people selling support cards, my gaming stream, etc.

First of all I'd like to thank all the people that donated to my charity stream. You guys were awesome!
A very special thanks goes to my friends Wiraqucha and Simmerplayer27 (These are their gamertags)
Not only did they donate royally, but you guys supported me and the stream all the way!

The results!
 The party itself was so sweet! In the beginning of the evening. The entertainment was focused on the children, only to grown into a full blown par-tay! Here are some images :D

Completely ran by volunteers mind you. Proof there are still pretty decent people out there.

Now two days ago, the day had finally come. Floran needed his operation. The whole family was tense that day. I found my mind wandering to my nephew every few minutes. Just imagine it's your own child, waiting to undergo such a tough operation.

Good news tho! The operation went ok! The road ahead for this little guy is rocky, but he is being surrounded by so much love. That has to count for something. Here are some post-op pictures of the little man.

He's still receiving valium for the pain, but the firs major step is taken. I will post occasional updates for sure!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Cerebral Palsy and how I know of it. (Not gaming related, not directly at least.)

This cute little guy here is Floran. Floran is my little nephew. He has had a really rough start in life. Due to a prolonged lack of oxygen at birth, he now suffers from Cerebral Palsy.

You may ask, what does this entail? Well in his specific case, it means he suffered brain damage at birth which causes him a whole spectrum of problems. He has a slight cognitive problem, a form of autism and his muscles don't grown as fast as his body does, meaning his body will grow 'crooked'

In order to to fix this, on the 8th of October, they will perform an SDR operation on him. For more info on that, please follow this link.

Find out more here!

This operation is super delicate, as they will cutting nerves near his spine. He will have to stay in the hospital for 3 months at least and will have to recover, while laying on his belly for quite some time.
After this operation, they need to set his ankles straight also and he will be needing an operation for his hips, since he also suffers from hip displasia.

His parents are busy with him nearly 24/7. His father has taken time off from work to be with his son during the hard recovery time. Mom will still work part time and take care of their daughter. Safe to say this will put an intense finacial strain on them. This is not the first operation and definitely won't be the last.

That's why most of their friends have banded together and started a benefit for little Floran which will culminate in a big party where the family shall be handed the accumulated funds from the fund raiser.

I will probably not make it to the party, as I have to work, but I want to do my part and in my own way. That's why I decided to do a Donation stream.
I will be streaming Sims/Mass Effect/ viewer suggestions on Saturday, September 19th, 2015 at 10 PM Central European Summer Time (CEST)

To easily convert to your own timezone:

Find my timezone!

For more information and pictures. about Floran and his family, I gladly point you to this website. It's in Dutch, but should you have a question about it, feel free to ask!

Facebook group:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mass Effect Andromeda: Speculation time!


Still pretty hyped from the E3 presentation. We got a first look at the latest installment of Mass Effect! And we got a name!

Mass Effect Andromeda. Trailer here.

Time to pick it apart! Sara style. There will be a lot of exclamation marks and curbed smilies, cause I just want to go overboard. I love this game so much, it's nearly insane.

So we start with a Johnny Cash tune. Nice, this evoked an immediate Firefly feeling with me.

Mal approves!

Look all y'all, it's Arizona! Click the picture for a higher resolution. Apologies for the quality in advance as these are screengrabs.

Arctic world with hidden cave and superblue streams. Yes, I like this.

Arizona meets the Great Barrier Reef above ground, with giant beetles!

Asteroid field, first look at Galaxy map interface and I think this little circle could be indicative of resource collection? Because it looks like a bit of a pie chart, with writings beside it. 
Like listing the resources available. Yet again, pure speculation from my part.

Then we have a seemingly very rocky and verdant landscape with a mega creature flying in the air. And again a circle thingy near a rock, probably giving a read-out on resources.

It's the dawn of a new planet, looks like. So it could be a really new planet or a really old one that faced annihilation.

FTL destination, I think this is our new galaxy map people. Feels a bit like the old one, but looks fresh. Also, emerging protagonist!

Yeah, speaks for itself.

 N7. YEAH!

So the Mako is in there too. Hold on to your stomachs folks! In some kind of desert scape. I expect Thresher Maws! And the giant beetles again.

So now the action starts. You see the protagonist overlook a desert landscape with some blue electrical currents cackling.

And now it becomes even more interesting! So we see these giant structures rise up from the ground.
In my opinion, they look Prothean. They also have the tell-talle blue lines running through the construction.

Here is some Prothean reference material of the Mars archives.

And to prove that theory even further. Here's a screengrab of our protagonist engaging the enemy. The form of their heads, their back-wards bending legs, shape of their shoulders all scream Prothean to me.

Some reference material to go with it.

And it ends with this. Captured in engine, so representative of Game Experience. Still a good year and half of waiting ahead, but I don't mind. Take your time on this one guys. My hopes are way up. It will be a hell of a fall if this dissapoints. This trailer has me hopeful however. I also saw a Krogan in the trailer, good times! :D

A clean break with the Shepard storyline was to be expected. I feel however, that it offers enough familiar elements to make you feel comfy of embarking on a new adventure.
I have just recently ventured into the Mass Effect community, late as I am to all the parties, but I love it so far. To be a part of it from the very beginning will be a new experience.

I cannot wait.