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101 Goals, 1001 Days: Finish 5 Games

I suck at finishing games. Or I play games that you can’t really finish. Right now I’m mostly playing The Sims 4. Guild Wars 2 is my other option. You can’t really finish these games.

So far I’ve only finished one game since starting my goals, Journey. I never thought this would be the first game I’d finish since there are so many others that I wanted to play first. I’ll still play the others, at some point.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is on my list to complete as well. I loved Dragon Age: Origins and skipped Dragon Age II. Why? I don’t know. I might be halfway done with Inquisition, although it’s hard to pinpoint with the open world setting. I’m having fun though. It reminds me much of Origins, but better.

Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten is my third game that I want to finish. It’s a tower defense game with heroes instead of towers. I’m not really following the story (not skipping, but fast forwarding), but it’s nice that there’s more to it than just the general zombie invasion.

The increased difficulty per level is nice as well. I usually start new levels at casual, but there are four difficulties per level in total. And then there are the challenges. I haven’t tried those yet, since my team might not be strong enough. I’d rather level them up a bit more and buy better equipment.

Epistory is the fourth that I want to finish. I already wrote about it this Blaugust, and I haven’t played it since, but I will. I just have to get a little faster with my typing.

Now, my fifth game is still open. I have no idea which game I want to play and that I want to finish. I have a dozen, but I seriously have a problem with my Steam library. It’ll also depends on the mood I’m in.

Guild Wars 2 – Fanfiction

Just after setting my goals, I had an amazing offer. One of my goals was to write fanfiction again. If you’ve been here before you’ll probably have seen some Guild Wars 2 fanfics floating around (you can find them here). A few of my Guild Wars 2 friends decided to do an amazing collaboration between writers and artists for charity, a Wintersday zine.

Zorav is the mastermind behind this project, but she isn’t doing it alone. She’s had the help of wonderful people who coordinated and edited the fanfics to the masterpieces that they are now. She launched the crowfunding campaign to raise funds for the zines and anything beyond the production costs would go to charity. In the two charity events she moderated, $42,000 went to charity.

Taking part in such a zine has been an experience. There were 71 artists and writers who contributed. Each writer collaborated with an artist to tell their story. Amazing pieces were submitted, in both art and writing.

It felt weird to hold a book with my work in it. It isn’t the first time I’ve had my work in print, but this was different. This wasn’t a newspaper, this was something I was passionate about, with amazing art by Eames, in full colour, printed on gorgeous paper.  It was definitely something I’m proud of and I showed it off to anyone who wanted to see it (mostly family and friends who don’t know anything about Guild Wars 2).

The applications for the Wintersday Zine have been closed already, but the crowdfunding has yet to start. So if you’re interested in buying a zine filled with great art and stories, keep your eye out this fall.

RIP Tales of Link

This post is part of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week.

Tales of Link, one of my favourite mobile games, was killed this spring (27 March 2018). I started playing just before its first anniversary and stopped a year and a half later. I could’ve played longer, but I felt there wasn’t a point.

When I first saw Tales of Link, the battle mechanism was new to me. Linking symbols wasn’t the new bit, but that you had to try to create a link as long as possible. You could use skills to transforms one symbol to another and if you managed to get nine of the same symbols, a special attack would unlock for the last hero in your link.

Tales of Link had many of the heroes and villains from the ‘Tales of’- franchise. My experience with the franchise was limited to trailers and wishlists. I did, however, buy the collector’s edition of Tales of Xillia 2. It was a fun way to get to know each character through the events and side stories.

The Events

They had several types of events. Some where score based, others just story based with free heroes or weapons to farm.

Free2Play friendly?

I felt that I could do nearly everything without paying a dime. It was hard to get a top score in the score ranking events. But besides that, it was very doable to play without spending real money. The game had enough opportunities to earn/farm gems (the premium currency) for the draws. You usually knew upfront which events were coming and most players saved up enough for the gacha with their favourite heroes.

I got three five star heroes in one pull. Two of them were highly rated.

Getting 5 star heroes wasn’t a problem. Getting the one you wanted or needed for your set up was always a question. But that’s what gachas are about, right? You never know what you’re going to get. I’ve been fortune with a lot of my pulls, but there were times when I only drew 4 star heroes. There was no guarantee of a 5 star hero in the regular gachas. They later added a coupon for a 5 star draw, but only for certain event gachas.

Why I quit

I loved this game. The heroes were nice, the drop rates were okay, the battle system required thinking and strategic planning, but it still wasn’t enough. After doing a few dozen scoring based events I noticed how impossible it felt to get to the top. Those events were the only ones that had items to reduce CC on your heroes. They were vital in other events to tackle the hardest levels. Without them it felt nearly impossible to finish it once, let alone farm it in the limited time I had.

When I realised this, I knew I had to accept that I was never going to get any good at it, or quit. I hated the feeling that I never had enough items for max limit break. I really wanted those 5 star event exclusives. I did want to be in the top 500. So I quit.

When I read that Bandai Namco were pulling the plug I felt incredibly sad, but I understood why the game wasn’t popular with whales. Of course there was a small group of players who spend huge amounts of money on premium currency and my guess is that those are the players who were always at the top. But getting there required more than just the right heroes. You needed time to farm as well. There was no way to speed that up, or auto-farm events. You still had to start the battle and confirm your win.

I still miss playing this game and the cute characters. The art was incredible, as is always the case with any Tales Of game. Have you played Tales of Link? Or do you know a game like Tales of Link? Please let me know in the comments.

Relaxing with Journey

This post is part of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week.

Journey is an indie title for the Playstation. It was praised and loved by many and I played earlier this year for the first time. I felt sick and needed something relaxing to play.

Journey almost feels like a meditative game. Your avatar doesn’t speak and the music is relaxing. The environment is the only thing guiding you through the levels. Exploring the levels more will give your cape a boost which means you can jump/fly higher/longer. I think my cape was longer than I was and the extra boosts were useful in one of the later levels in which you have to ascend a tower.

You begin in a desert with only a few ruins around. That’s where you’re going. Red and gold indicators help you find your way, slowly introducing new mechanics to unlock new areas.

There are some enemies, giant dragon like structures, which point their laser eyes at you. I think I died once when I saw them for the first time.  They’re intimidating enough that you know without anyone telling you, hey, this is a bad guy. I commend the devs for the art direction.

Even though the game has been released years ago, people are still playing. I had no idea that you shared your game with someone else. After a few levels I noticed that my buddy’s cape had different lengths, indicating they were different players. In the later levels, a buddy is crucial for keeping warm. I was lucky to have one who knew what was necessary.At the end of the game, I even received an extra achievement for finishing the game with a partner throughout the whole game.

Everything they say about this game is true. Beautiful art style, great music, a nice story. It only took me a couple of hours, but they were a lot of fun. I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it yet.

Stardew Valley Multiplayer

This post is part of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week.

Multiplayer is one of the features added to the small farming game Stardew Valley. I played it for half an hour a year ago and I don’t really know why I didn’t play more at the time. I’ve always liked Harvest Moon and Rune Factory on my DS.

Playing the multiplayer with my husband was a lot of fun though. I already explained that he tends to go nuts in terms of efficiency. He seeks out the most profitable crops and upgrades his tools so we can progress the fastest.

We ended up with huge pumpkin during the harvest season

I’m more of a casual player and see what I want to do each day. I don’t tend to plan for festival like he does. Especially not the first year. If we played an RPG, our playstyles would clash, but not Stawdew.

I don’t mind being guided to what needs to be done. The morning routine of watering and harvesting, feeding the animals and checking on produce is one I often take on. My husband usually knows what needs to be done to complete collections, gathering of rocks or fish. (I don’t fish because I suck at it.)

Our playstyles add to each other. We’re in our first winter and we already have stables. I have my two chickens (ones I really wanted) and most of our tools have been upgraded at least once. My husband is thinking of the perfect lay out to start in spring and I’m just keeping on gathering winter berries, wood, stone and ore.

Hopefully we’ll soon have more livestock and a greenhouse.

Love Nikki

This post is part of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week.

I recently decided that it was time to purge the games from my phone. I kept two: Pokemon Go and Love Nikki. Pokemon Go is well known, so I want to talk about Love Nikki today.

Love Nikki is a mobile dress up game. Think Barbie, but virtual. Nikki, the main character, ends up in a different world, Miraland. Her new friend Bobo tells her that styling is the most important thing ever and Nikki happens to be good at it.

There’s an adorable manga about Nikki’s arrival and the beginning of her journey on the official Facebook page. If you’re into that, you should read it. I don’t really care for the story in game, but loved the manga. I hope they’ll adapt the rest of the story as well.

The whole game is about dressing up Nikki. They recently added more skin tones and unisex outfits as well, so you don’t have to dress up as a girl. For the completion of the story you do have to follow the theme of the battle. Yes, you actually battle it out, fashion style.

Imagine a side by side catwalk. You show your stuff and use certain skills to influence the judges on the scores. Certain items can give you a very high score, while others are just unfit for the theme. Momo, the cute cat like creature, will help you out with a few tips if you need it. The battles aren’t about looking good, but are purely score based.

There are other modes in which your look does matter. In the Style Competition, other players will judge your ability to style based on a specific theme. Below you can see my most recent submission. At this time I was ranked 251 of all the players which is the highest I’ve ever been rated and now I’ve dropped to be in the top 1%.

The PvP mode is the Stylist’s Arena. This is score based again. The battles are much like the regular ones, but the opponent is a player with their set outfit and skills. In this battle you can’t active your skills yourself.

This game is addictive. Of course it has micro transactions and most events require you to spend gems (the currency bought with real money) if you want all of the new clothes, but it’s easy to farm gems. You don’t have to spend money to do well in this game. Some outfits can only be bought with real money, so if you’re not a completionist, this is definitely fun and F2P friendly.

Gaming and Spouses

One of the great things about the Discord for Blaugust is that we share ideas and talk about the things we like. Most of us game, some more than others. But our spouses/significant others don’t always game. Some never play a game at all.

Here is the story my husband and I and our relationship with gaming.

My husband and I got to know each other through League of Legends when he decided to join his colleagues for some ARAM fun. They were my friends. I knew he was a gamer, but I had no idea what kind of gamer he was.

I later learned that he was part of several Counter Strike teams when he was in his teens. This was before Twitch and before esports was big. Prices consisted of several hundred euros or merchandise from hardware sponsors. Nothing fancy. No tens of thousands of people watching the finals. But he was on there. Playing finals against others on the big screen with only the people from the LAN parties present as an audience.

Going back even further, he was the small boy who played flight simulators late at night/early in the morning with Americans and Canadians (guess where he learned English). He played on consoles with his brother and sister and he still has his old Game Boy.

He still games, more than me, and I give him the time to do so. It’s his main source of relaxation after working all day. He usually focuses on one game for a while before moving on the next. I remember he played Factorio religiously, planning everything perfectly and rebuilding assembly lines for more efficient work. He made whole spreadsheets for his game development in Game Dev Tycoon. I admire his dedication to his games.

When Stardew Valley had the multiplayer update, we decided to give it a go and play together again. Friday and Saturday evening are my game nights after Shiro goes to bed. That’s the only time we can game together. Now with the No Man’s Sky Next update, we might add that to our list as well. I really enjoyed discovering the world alone, but it seems more fun to do so together.

101 Goals, 1001 Days: Learning Japanese

I’ve been watching anime for a long time and with Netflix including more foreign programs, I’ve been watching more drama shows and reality series as well. Through watching that, I’ve learned some basic Japanese phrase, but it’s not nearly enough to survive a trip to Japan.

When I first met my brother’s girlfriend she was impressed with the phrases I knew. Most of what I know are the oneliners from anime and manga.

Ohayou, konbanwa, hajimemashite, aishiteru, oyasuminasai.

That’s nothing special, right? That’s why I’m slowly expanding my vocabulary with Duolingo. It’s become easier for me to recognize words in sentences, although the sentence structure is still hard to understand. Grammar (no matter what language) has always been my weak point.

I don’t think Duolingo is the perfect tool to learn Japanese. After the first basic lessons, you will learn harder words and phrases which use those words. But they don’t talk about the words used to connect nouns. So the one thing that I’m struggling with, they don’t explain.

Luckily, through my interest, I’ve already bought some books on learning Japanese. Combining these source has been a great way to increase my mastery of the language and I notice that when I’m watching Japanese series, it’s easier to recognize what they’re saying. I still need subtitles to confirm what they say, but I can look away for a second and know that I haven’t missed much.

I hope that by the time we go to Tokyo I will know how to ask my way, understand directions, know how to order food and read a menu.

The Path I’ve Walked

This post appeared on Narratess first. I wrote and posted it on my thirtieths birthday, last June. I thought it would a great get-to-know-me post since I don’t think many readers here know about this part of me.

Turning thirty means different things for different people. Some are scared of it, getting old. Others see it as their second twenties, but with more wisdom. And there’s a third group that mostly confused about how they should feel about thirty. I turned thirty today and I have no idea what it means to me, but I do know that the past decade has contributed the most to who I am today.

Life is nothing without its ups and downs. Highlights are earning a bachelor and a master degree, finding a full-time job, quitting said job, have stories and articles published, becoming a dog mom, and getting married. Low points are getting my chronic pain diagnosis, getting hit by a car and rejection letters. (I kept adding things to the highlights, which is a good sign.)

For my writing career, these were the years that I knew what kind of writing I wanted to do. During my years at the university, I received a lot of criticism on my writing. It wasn’t academic enough and I struggled with that the most when I was writing my master thesis. That was also the moment that the pain attacks began, so I was distracted most of the time as well. Academic writing wasn’t for me, especially in the humanities. The extra courses I picked during my bachelor were for the computer science, linguistics or history department. All of them were more relaxed about writing style. These were the subjects where I got high grades and also the subjects that still interest me to this day.

I still enjoyed writing during my university years. Most of my stories were beginnings or summaries of stories that would come to me at weird times. Those moments started in high school, but I never managed to quite finish a story. I wanted to develop my writing since I knew I was lacking skill. I started a blog about the games I played. I even started writing fanfiction for one of my favourite games, Guild Wars 2. The fanfics were probably the first real stories I finished.

Writing on my blog actually led to my first paid writing gig at MMOgames. I had a column about Guild Wars 2 for a while, but it was hard to keep up with my fulltime job and gaming. My continued struggle with chronic pain had me drained most of the days. I didn’t play enough to keep the column going. My involvement in the Guild Wars 2 community led to an invite for a short story in a fanzine for charity. Raven and I both worked on the fanzine with the wonderful Mel Sayre at the helm. It was a great project to work on with 70 other very talented people, artists and writers alike.

The job that I landed was much easier than I had anticipated and I managed to get my tasks done on time. I used the free time I had to do creative work. I wrote short stories and worked on a game design document. That’s where I got my energy from. My creative juices kept flowing and I needed an outlet, but once I opened the tap, they kept coming. Writing fiction (and using a fountain pen and paper specifically) had become therapeutic. If I wasn’t able to take that time for myself, I would have burned out. The nearly two-hour daily commute and the increasing stress from a management with no sense of leadership were enough for my health to become worse. Quitting was my best option. It was one of the hardest decisions to make and also the easiest one. Health comes first. My husband told me to take this chance and pursue my dream of a writing career. I launched Narratess while I was still working and wrote one article a week to post.

One and a half year later and I’m still blogging here. My selection of short stories is being read by the first readers and I hope that soon I can share more information about my first book release! I’ve used my twenties to realise what I wanted to write and do my words to get to a level worthy of publishing. My first book release will be in my thirties and it won’t be the last. I’m sure I’ll need a few years to learn more about publishing and book marketing, but I’ve got time to learn.

Learning Calligraphy

My interest for calligraphy isn’t new. In my early childhood my fascination with fountain pens and calligraphy was already apparent to my mother who bought me a Parker calligraphy set and a book on popular calligraphy (cursive, not hand lettering).

I still have the book, although I’m not sure where the pens are. I now have a wide range of fountains and dip pens with various widths. I have a few brush pens that I can use for practicing line variation. No flex nibs yet, but that might still be too advanced for me. I need to learn my letters first.

I hope to get better at it so I can make my own cards with inspiring quotes. Even though I have learning calligraphy as a goal for my 101 Goals, 1001 Days challenge, I know that this is a skill that takes years to master. It would be weird if I mastered it fully in three years.

Below are a few pictures of calligraphy and handwriting practice. I’m by no means any good (average at best), but I’m working hard to get better. Follow me on Instagram to see more pictures of calligraphy practice, bookish pictures and fountain pens.

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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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