Guild Wars 2 – The Confessor Is Dead

This isn’t really a spoiler for the players who have kept up with the Living World story, since this happened halfway season 3. If you haven’t played the episodes yet, stop reading since this post will be one big spoiler about my frustration with this one boss fight.

Patch Preview Privilege?

Some time ago, when the patch for The Head of the Snake came out, I was still writing for MMOgames and I was allowed to do the patch preview. I first thought this was marvelous. I was one of the few who could see everything of the new patch before it launched!

I didn’t care that I could only barely make it with my full time job, time zone differences and limited computer time. It was really fun to be able to see everything without risk of spoilers and truly experience the reveals as they came. And, I’ll be honest, I got a slight kick out of knowing something amazing that other players didn’t.

The previews that I wrote had to be as spoiler free as possible and it’s what I still try to do as much as possible when I’m writing about a movie, book or game. The upside of that was I wasn’t forced to complete the whole episode, but I did it anyways. I feel that I can’t comment on a story without experiencing it completely, so I always read/play/watch everything or I won’t write about it.

Spoilers ahead

The Head of the Snake

The Head of the Snake is the fourth episode in the Living World Season 3, which off after the story of Heart of Thorns. I actually remember very little about how the story got there, only the big outline. It doesn’t matter much for this post since I just want to talk about this one man. Minister Caudecus.

It was obvious from the first time that I did the story mode of the Caudecus Manor dungeon, that this wouldn’t be the last time we’d hear from that weasel. After the explosion in the Maguuma Jungle, it is revealed that Caudecus is the confessor of the White Mantle, a group of extremists. He wants to rule Tyria and he needed the bloodstone for its powers.

Long story short: he wants to overthrow Queen Jenna and you, the commander, stop him during this episode.

Now, the writing for this season was incredibly. It has a lot of twists and turns and I really enjoyed the new maps. But. I hated how they did the progression of the story steps. One of the steps in this episodes was simply to do events in the new map.

Well. Eh. I don’t care? I’m coming here for the story. I already run around the map and heard and saw a ton of things without specifically being told to do so. The progression of that bar was slow as hell. It only made me dislike it even more.

Doing events in open world is never really a problem since there are always people around to jump in and help. This is not the case in a patch preview. Players are very limited and most of us were doing our own thing, making cool screenshots, figuring out where all the collectables are, or doing things totally unrelated to the story and/or new map. 

Doing the events was a nightmare. Most of the enemies had some form of CC which made killing them in groups nearly impossible when you’re alone. Especially when you’re a super casual player who doesn’t know the optimal build and how to play the class the best they can. I’m a very average player. Maybe even below average.

I hated this. I also knew that I had limited time to finish the story, write up the article, sleep, eat, get on with my life, and work. I had a deadline and I don’t want to be late for a deadline set by someone else.

After I finally finished this step, I had to go back to Queen Jenna and the final plans were made to kill the head of the snake. I had to go to Caudecus’ Manor to deal with him.

Caudecus, a thing of evil

I hate you, Caudecus, with a passion. Not only for what you did, but also for everything that you’ve thrown my way in your manor. Your White Mantle friends, the bandits and jade constructs.

I hate you for what you did to Demmi. I hate you for sacrificing all those people. And I hate you for killing the parents of my main character.

But most of all, I hate your private dungeon. Covered in bloodstone, feeding your insanity. I hate your carvings on the walls that make it look like you’re staring at me from every direction. I hate the small size of it and you’re giant, flashy SFX for your skills. I hate how you make my camera flip through walls in a manner that gave me a headache. I hate how you summoned more of your minions while I tried to kick your ass. I hate how your jade constructs are tougher than you. I hate how you CC’d me with two skills and killed me. I hate how limited my mobility was in a small room with all your AoE. I hate that you killed me at least ten times before I managed to finish.

From the German GW2 Wiki

It took me over one and a half hour in preview to kill him. Last night I finally dared to do it on my own account and it took me 45 minutes. It was easier. Maybe they adjusted the battle a little so people like me wouldn’t have such a hard time with it.

I can genuinely say that I’m glad he’s dead. Not just because of his role in the story, but also because I know that I will never do this part of the story ever again. I managed to do two achievements and that’s more than enough. Should I ever want/need more achievements in this particular story step, I’ll be sure to bring others.

Not always good

After I finished the patch preview I could never get myself to finish this part of the episode. I knew what was coming and I hated having to do it again. That was one of the biggest downsides of being part of the preview.

A few weeks after I stopped writing for MMOgames and forfeited my right to be part of the previews, I started enjoying Guild Wars 2 again. Just a little, and only by doing certain things. But it was a start. I had my freedom again.

That’s when I learned that some (press) privileges aren’t always good. I do have to say that it depends on the person. I didn’t do well in these circumstances. Even without a full time job, I’d have to think twice before taking up such a writing job again.

I learned from this experience. I really enjoyed doing the previews and the dev team excellent in their support during those busy weekend. It’s just not for me.

This while Caudecus thing the reason why I didn’t play any of the following episode or the Path of Fire expansion with my main character. Not being able to do the story of my main, the character I’m most invested in, has hurt the enjoyment of the game. Now that I’m passed it, I’ll continue with her story, do the other episodes, the expansion story and the new episodes. It’ll take a while and I know that I’m playing through the story again. The big difference is that this progression is for myself.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: A Short Movie Update

I’ve watched a few movies, two of them were on the list of recommended movies: Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Two down, eighteen more to go.

Interstellar

My husband told me to watch this one, but more people recommend it to just about everyone. I remember Twitter fawning all over this movie when it came out.

I really enjoyed the movie, but I don’t know enough space stuff to fully understand the story. I do believe that if I had known more, I would’ve liked it even more. The concepts of wormholes, blackholes, space/time relativity, altered gravity and fourth and fifth dimensions are hard to understand. Separately, but even more so when they’re all thrown together in a two hour story.

Another problem I have with any movie in space is that some of the cinematography is giving me a headache. I get that there’s on ‘ground’ in space and everything floats around each other, but the rapid movement in the background is enough to make me motion sick. (I had to close my eyes during some of the scenes in Gravity as well.)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

I prefer the first one. I never read any Marvel comics so I only know what’s in the movies. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies both seem a little far fetched, plotwise, but this one seems even more so.

The whole god/demigod thing might just be one step too far. If it was a standalone movie, I might’ve accepted that, but in such a big universe with Doctor Strange and the Norse realms, having one god who could create everything seems wrong. IMO, you can’t have a all powerful god in a universe with a pantheon.

I do like the execution. The cinematography and art direction are great. I love the characters, especially the couple of Groot and Rocket. I just wish the story was different.

The highlight of this movie (and the first) is the soundtrack. It’s filled with 80s hits and I love it. There is a Spotify playlist with all of the songs if you want to listen to it on the go.

Blaugust Reflection

Today is the last day of Blaugust. A few days before August began, I had an itch. An itch that needed to be scratched. I wanted to write about games again. Other things that interested me besides books, reviews and writing. I knew I had another blog (this one) and it was the perfect place for the creative outlet that I needed.

My new laptop also arrived around that time. I could develop a new work routine and had to get used to a new keyboard. My laptop is a normal 15,4″ Acer and I used to work on a 10,1″ convertible tablet. The big screen is definitely motivating me to write more. It’s easier to see everything (I’m getting old) and my eyes don’t tire as fast.

The first week I wrote five blogs in one day. I was excited. The discord was filled with activity and ideas started pouring in. Making drafts was the easiest thing to do to keep track of all my post ideas. I could just pick one of my drafts, write it and schedule it for whenever I didn’t have a post ready. This blog used to have memes on specific days, but I stepped away from that for Blaugust. And besides blogging here, I still had the weekly blog on Narratess.

Overall I’ve written a lot, 36 blog posts and I’ve done writing and editing for my fiction as well. I’ve grown my Twitter following, and followers for both blogs. Going forward I’ll still stick my one post on Narratess and I hope to at least post once a week here as well. I want to use the rest of my writing energy to fix my short stories and work on my first draft. I’ll keep reading everyone’s blog which should become more manageable when there aren’t 80 new posts every day.

Thank you everyone for all the beautiful posts, interactions, and help that I’ve received. I hope that I can keep contributing to our amazing blogging community.

101 Goals, 1001 Days Reflection

It’s a little over a year ago since I started with this list and I already completed some of them. That was kind of the point, to pick long and short term goals.

Last year has been full of big changes. I quit my job to start writing and blogging full time while also taking care of my health. The few months after I quit, I was still busy with the wedding. Both before and after. It took up most of my energy just thinking about everything that had to be done. When all of it was done, there was this empty space left. I needed something to work on.

Yes, my writing, I know. But I also wanted to accomplish something on a personal level. I wanted to grow as a person. Using 101 Goals, 1001 Days, has allowed me to do so. Learning Japanese is purely for my own satisfaction (and my brother’s girlfriend is delighted that I’m doing my best getting to know her culture). Trying out new recipes is what will make our day to day life a little more adventurous. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. I want to learn new skills, but which are related to what I want to do professionally.

By combining long and short term goals, I always have the idea that I’m working towards something. Some things are easier to track than others (quality versus quantity), but that’s okay. I’m expanding my Japanese vocabulary and I notice that I don’t rely on the subs in animes that much anymore. It’s getting easier to work out new recipes when I want to substitute an ingredient and I also know how to work with flavor and spices.

I don’t notice my personal growth on a day-to-day basis, but looking at this list, I see that growth. I believe I’m a better person than I was before, but I still have a long way to go. I’m glad that I chose to do this even when the challenge seemed a little too daunting before. You don’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Reading All The Books

In one of my earlier posts I asked for recommendations for books and movies and you’ve given me a ton! I’ve made a list of the twenty books that I’m going to read for this goal. The other books I’ll add to my general to-read list, which I’ll read whenever I find the time and have access to the book.

I only have 28 movies so far (not shows, just movies) so if you have any recommendations beyond these, please let me know. I also know there are a handful of movies that I probably won’t like and maybe a few that I won’t be able to find since they’re old. I’ve also added the years to the movies as a reference point. If I have the wrong movie, do let me know as well, since I wasn’t sure about a few.

I want to thank everyone who’s recommended me books and/or movies. I really appreciate that you took the time to share the books/movies you love. I hope I can help spread that love as well.

Books

  • The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer
  • Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara
  • East by Edith Pattou
  • It by Stephen King
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer
  • Alif The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
  • Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
  • Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • The Four by Scott Galloway
  • Weaveworld by Clive Barker
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor

Movies

  • 5 to 7 (2014) (already watched this one, liked it very much)
  • Primer (2004)
  • The Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)
  • Pirates (2014)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • A Silent Voice (2016)
  • HAL (2003)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain (2001)
  • Network (1976)
  • Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
  • Moon (2009)
  • Hawk The Slayer (1980)
  • The Sword And The Sorcerer (1982)

Things I Miss In The Sims 4

I’ve been playing The Sims 4 lately and there are a few things that I don’t like. I already expected the dozen expansion packs, stuff packs, thematic packs. They know where to milk the money. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about things that aren’t related to money.

The Design Tool (The Sims 3)

I miss being able to edit outfits and furniture and give them the colours and textures that I want them to have. The customization options were much more expansive and that allowed me to really create my sim and my house. Even the hair colour options are very limited. I used to create my sim with crazy hair colours, mix high lights, low lights and the main colour to create amazing colourful haircuts. That’s something I can’t do any more. It’s harder to match items with each other from other sets as well. There is no guarantee that the colour is the right colour to match with something else. 

Sultans of Bling by Kate. An actual floating house.

Community Mods (The Sims 3)

I remember that I downloaded hundreds of custom made items from the community. The modding community was the best. I could browse for days just to get the right dress, haircut or house. There were some amazing houses. In The Sims 3 the modding community was accessible in game. It was way easier since everything was automatically added to the game. That was a great way to manage all the items. I know that I added several gigabytes to The Sims 2 and it actually took half an hour longer to start the game. I needed to cut down my downloaded assets, but it was hard to see which ones I could

Building lots (The Sims 2)

I have the feeling that there aren’t as much places to build as in the previous games, especially if you haven’t bought any expansion packs. Even the newer areas have limited lots due to all the commercial lots.

I used to have a choice of fifteen or more lots in different sizes. Now my options are limited. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the ‘open world’ feeling that started in The Sims 3 or not, but even these ‘neighbourhoods’ feel small and limited. It doesn’t excite me. I’d either want the system of the old Sims (The Sims 1 and 2) or The Sims 3. This halfway thing isn’t great.

Songs of Desire

Last night I realized that nearly all Disney musical movies have a song of desire in them. These songs appear early in the movie and paint the desires of our hero(in). You know where the protagonist comes from, what they are struggling with and what they desire. The whole movie focuses on trying to attain that desire. And sometimes they figure out that what they truly want is actually something totally different. Or that they should take a different approach in getting it.

It’s a good mechanism for showing character development. It’s also a very easy way. Disney movies are aimed at a young audience, so that makes sense. But it’s something you can learn from when you’re working with stories. It’s important to know early on what’s going on in the protagonist’s life, what their obstacles are and what they want.

I made a quick playlist on Spotify for this collection of Disney songs. I don’t know if I have all of them, but I know most of them are in there. If you think there’s one that needs to be on the list, let me know in the comments below.

6 Years Of Guild Wars 2

I know, I’m a few days late, especially since I started playing with the three day head start. But does it matter? Is it bad to celebrate a birthday late? I celebrated my own (thirtieth) birthday at least four times this year, on different days, and only once on my birthday itself. I’m okay with celebrating a little late, preferably multiple times.

Guild Wars 2 - Fractals of the Mists - Cliffside Fractal
Save the Collosus in the Cliffside Fractal. Gain an achievement by bowing to him when he turns around and salutes.

I’ll celebrate Guild Wars 2’s anniversary multiple times if I could. So far, only two of my characters have received their sixth birthday presents and one big present account wide. The account wide box actually allows you to unlock a complete armor set, two weapon skins from the Luminous weapon set and it has a wardrobe unlock ticket. The ticket gave me the Gallant Axe Skin. I’m glad it’s not a generic skin, but actually one that worth something (155 gold? Yes, please). I don’t mind my axes without particle effects. I would definitely use it on my ranger or warrior.

The first four years were the good years, the years I played the most. And while I really like the areas of Path of Fire I haven’t spend as much time there. I should. I want to explore them some more. My characters also need the hero points for unlocking their elite specializations. But I’ll be honest. I haven’t played much of the last Living World update. I think I’m halfway through the story and I don’t feel the need to continue the story. Not yet anyways. I’ll go for mastery of the older areas first. I’m not done with it yet and won’t be for a long time.

Happy birthday Guild Wars 2, happy anniversary ArenaNet. To another six years. Cheers!

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Recipes and Cooking

I have a few cooking goals on my list and I’ve already done some, but there’s one that I still can’t decide on. Cooking and baking have been my hobbies since I was a child. I was nine or ten when I had my first cooking class and even before that, I helped my mom baking cookies or cake. My dad cooks delicious Indonesian dishes. I still have a lot to learn from him, but I’m getting there.

I’ve already made pesto from scratch, twice, and baked cookies for someone. I’ve made a dozen or so new recipes. But I still haven’t found the cookbook to work through.

The idea to cook every recipe in a cookbook is nothing new. I borrowed it from the book/movie Julie & Julia, in which Julie cooks every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook. I liked the movie, especially Meryl Streep as Julia Child, and the book is a little more inspiring to my taste.

It’s not the lack of cookbooks, but I don’t want to commit to something and then quit halfway. Which means that I shouldn’t pick a cookbook with dishes that I don’t eat (anything with fish)that has more than 300 recipes, or needs very specific ingredients. I could at least one whole shelf with cook/baking books and I still can’t decide. I’ll probably go for an Italian cookbook since we both like Italian and some ingredients are easy to substitute.

I’m still on the fence, but I’ll let you know which one I’ve decided on soon. How do you feel about recipes? Should I post them? Or just the journey and the result?

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Activities

In my 101 goals, there are a few activities that aren’t that interesting to talk about, while some others are worth one or more blog posts. I want to share a short summary of a few activities that I’ve done in the past year.

Eat at a new restaurant

I went to Amsterdam recently to meet a friend from Twitter. Since I don’t go to Amsterdam often, I’m kind of a tourist there myself. I tried to look up some nice places to eat. We met up for lunch and it made sense to have the best fries in the city. Vleminckx de Sausmeester was the place to go. I’ve had some delicious fries, but these were really, really good. Crispy and just salty enough. The fries are the only thing they sell, so even with the line the service is quick. Just name the size and the sauce you want. Mayonnaise for me, please.

Van der Linde ice cream was also on my list. My husband told me they have the best ice cream he ever had. He was right. The whipped cream is mixed with the ice cream. It’s rich, creamy, vanilla flavored deliciousness. I had the smallest serving and it was more than enough. I know that I’ll be going there again.

My mom wanted to take me for lunch on my birthday. The restaurants in my town change quickly, so this was the perfect opportunity to eat at a new restaurant. We had lunch at Barista Cafe down town.

The quality of the food didn’t wow me, but I did have my first matcha latte there. I wanted to try something new. It reminded me of the matcha Kitkat, my favourite flavour. But having a liquid version of it might have been too much to go with a full lunch. The lunch was nice, but maybe because of the company, not the food.

Also, the waitress treated me like an idiot. I never had matcha before, so I have no idea how it tastes. She didn’t have to mock me for not knowing if it was sweet or bitter. Just answer the question and giggle with your colleagues in the kitchen.

Visit an aquarium

I love going to aquariums. I like seeing most underwater sea creatures floating around, doing their thing, being pretty. It’s one of the few attractions that I look for when I’m on vacation.

My husband had given me tickets to Sealife Scheveningen and Madurodam as a Christmas present, both located in Scheveningen, one of the prettiest seaside towns in The Netherlands. We went there on a Monday with dreary weather and no national holidays to avoid the family crowd.

Attend a ballet

I went to Sleeping Beauty with my sister in law and mother in law just before Christmas. I really wanted to see Swan Lake, but they didn’t perform it last year. My sister in law said that Sleeping Beauty is also very beautiful. I love Tchaikovsky, so I agreed to go with them. I have no regrets going. It was beautiful. Gorgeous costumes and excellent dancers. I do have to admit that most of the male dancers were better than the females.

Bake cookies for someone

I made cookies for my physical therapist. I have been seeing him for nine years when he sold his business. I made the for his birthday a few months earlier. He was a good one and I’m kind of sad that he won’t be the one torturing anymore since I have something to torture him with as well.

Have a tea party

I wanted to organize a tea party and my mom’s birthday was the perfect occasion for it. I asked my sister and sister in law to join us as a surprise. My mom had no clue that we would be going for a high tea since I invited her to look for new glasses. When my sister and sister in law were there, she was surprised and touched. She never expected it and that made the high tea even more fun. Both sisters are living almost an hour away so we don’t get together often. All of us enjoyed it very much, so I’m think we should do it again next year. Maybe without the surprise.

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Guild Wars 2 Fiction

Miira Lightbringer:
Fried Moa Steak
Quiet Before the Storm

Young Miira:
Tail Tugging Part 1
A Promise Made Part 2
Night Falls Part 3
Grawling Preparations Part 4
Badazar Incarnated Part 5
Graduation Part 6 - Final

Savyrius Belain:
We Meet Again...

Naella Ysangwan:
Dogs and Ogres

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Diablo 3 Battle Tag: Endalia#1709
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