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Guild Wars 2: Old And New

A new patch hit this week with something new. Now that the Living World has turned into a Saga, they’re no longer bound by linear storytelling. The new patch with the title Steel and Fire has a different kind of story, namely, that of Ryland.

The New

For those that haven’t played the new saga yet, Ryland is a new character who’s not on your side. So playing as him is definitely interesting. You get a view you didn’t have before as the story followed the commander and never strayed.

I really like this side story, not for what it is (yes, it’s still amazing), but for what it represents. The storytelling is no longer written from one point of view. We can jump into any perspective now and see what’s happening at places where we’re not present. Also, the scrying pool isn’t time-bound. We can go back in time and relive those stories. What if the key to overcoming this is a story in the past instead of the future?

The patch also comes with new skins, two new legendary trinkets, and a ton more stuff. The new currencies can be used to unlock a new armor set, runic armor. It looks pretty good and seems not to be out of my league, which I’m especially happy with.

The Old

Eye of the North is returning with a new map. The 2012 version is still available as an option in the scrying pool. But it’s the new map where it’s all happening. Aurene’s presence is clearly visibly with the new crystals forming all around the map. The Crystal Bloom is standing around, talking to no one in particular. And there’s this weird writer with his collection. I have no idea why he’s there but maybe we’ll find out later.

With the return of Eye of the North, a few missions from the Living World Season one returned as well. You need to pick up a memento for each of the missions located near the old missions before you can do them.

I’ve yet to try one of the missions but I really do want to experience them again. The first season was enjoyable even with the amount of dead people by the end. I’m just sad we’ll never get to do the battle for Lion’s Arch again. Or the destruction. Or the final battle of Scarlet Briar. I remember the fight and how impressive if it was with everyone working together to bring down these huge structures. I loved it and I hope we’ll get it back someday.

Cantha?!

The other thing I’m really excited about is the other announcement: The third expansion. They sneakily announced it in the last paragraph of their update post. A place you’d normally skip if you already found the information you’re looking for. The image at the end also spoiled it a little as it features distinct Canthan architecture. We’re going back to Cantha with the third expansion and I’m excited. It’s definitely motivation to finish the Saga content and maybe finally finish a legendary. So I can look pretty going back there. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally finish Factions too.

Building Cities

Last week, a new DLC for Cities: Skylines came out, Sunset Harbor. When I saw it I knew I had to get it. These past months I’ve been getting back into the game and the new hubs and the fishing industry looked great. I wasn’t feeling that great this weekend so I splurged and bought Sunset Harbor, Campus, and Industries since I didn’t have them either. Now it’s time for a new city.

New maps, new cities

I’ll be honest. I liked the new Simcity when it came out, even if it did have its problems like tiny maps. I understand why they did it and I genuinely enjoyed working on several maps at the same time to work on the big shared project.

I liked how I could make resources from recycling trash. Alloy was my money maker. And the school system was amazing. I loved how the buildings changed when you build futuristic stuff around them.

When Cities: Skyline first launched, it had none of that, and I hope that I’ll have now some of the things I liked in Simcity. Campus and Industries have added some new things like raw resources and more university programs. I haven’t progressed far enough to unlock some of the buildings yet, so it’s still very new to me.

The DLC also came with new maps so I picked one with more water, hoping to get more out of the fishing industries that came with Sunset Harbor. I never did much with water. No ferries or harbors. So this is a good time to explore more options.

My inspiration to play again

I started playing again after watching Biffa’s Fix Your Cities-series. It’s a relaxing format that taught me a lot about how the game actually works. Looking at his playthrough of Teaville also inspired me to work on layout instead of just trying to get as much zoning and building in there as possible.

One thing that held me back in my previous cities was my reluctance to delete buildings or rearrange things so I could upgrade roads or insert roundabouts. I should forget about that and do what helps to improve logistics and make me more money.

I really hope I can build a city I’m satisfied with this time around. I’ll take my time and see if I can use the added features to make it more like a real city. In my last city I had four million spare. Now I spend my money ASAP on new buildings to help me progress. It’s nice to feel like I’m still discovering new things instead of just try to get more zoning in. Soon enough I have to make a new quarter in my city and maybe I’ll go for something curvy instead of all straight lines. Who knows.

March Wrap-up

Ah, March. You’re so much like your brother February. My productivity was shit this month. March 14th, I woke up with a terrible headache I’d rate 9 out of 10 on the scale of doesn’t hurt, to feel like dying. I’ve had it before and barely slept back then. I couldn’t read, watch a screen, or do anything basically. I went to the doctor, practically begging him to give me something to help me sleep because I was exhausted, and not just because of the major headache.

And now it’s back. It’s the same headache and the same cause. I don’t need an MRI to tell me there’s nothing wrong with my brain even though it feels like it’s set on fire. Every day. The joints in my neck are unstable (just like the joints everywhere else in my body) and my muscles have a hard time correcting it. Now they’ve had enough and tensed up so much they’re causing a major headache. I skipped going to the doctor (they’re busy enough as it is) and talked directly with my physiotherapist. He was busy, but still managed to find me a spot. Someone had cancelled due to concerns about the virus.

That’s been my luck because I could still see him for a few times before everything was shut down. One and a half week later, I still had a headache but he assured me it would get better now as my muscles loosened up and I do my exercises. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Working my health issues which are very different from the health issues many, many other people are dealing with at the moment. I can’t even imagine what it would do to me if I caught the virus with my neck injury acting up.

What I did do

I managed to play some more Stardew Valley, finally doing some of the new patch stuff. On PC I made a new farm while I continue with my old for on my Switch. I don’t think I’ll do a weekly Stardew update as I considered before. It’ll take up too much time and turns playing the game into a chore, which I definitely do not want. Maybe I’ll do more small updates as something significant happens.

So far I’ve edited six chapters of my WIP while planning out book 3. My head didn’t want to do creative work, but rearranging scenes was okay. So now my whiteboard is covered in post-its with half an outline. I’ll try to finish it soon so I can focus on my first draft while editing the rest of book 2.

Books read has been minimal since my head didn’t want to do words at all. I think I finished 1,5 book. So not much. I hope to finish a few more next month though. Not watching Netflix after dinner had helped me improve my reading time but it was so slooooow. My average pages read an hour is fifty. Now it was half of that. And it’s not like I’m reading the most complex novels either. So it’s all in the processing speed of my brain.

Looking toward April

What is happening in April is the community event Blapril (Blay-pril), hosted by Belghast. It’s basically the same as Blaugust but in April. Since the world is in a weird spot we wanted to do something for the community. Coming together when we’re all forced to stay apart is the best thing you can do. So we invite you to join us in this blogging event. Share your stories, your passions, your distractions, with others who might need it.

This year, I finally had the courage to sign up as a mentor. I’ve had the role on the discord for a while now, but never participated as one. But here it is. I’m a blogging mentor. Most of my advice will be given through discord so poke me there if you need help.

For advice on writing I suggest checking out my other blog Narratess, the NaNoWriMo tag specifically. Or my post on writer’s block. And maybe my post on productivity and how to maintain it during more taxing times.

There’s no minimum requirement except for a (blogging) platform of your choice. Others have done daily vlogs, or micro content on Tumblr or Twitter. Do a Blapril challenge on Instagram. Share a piece of your world with the rest of the Blapril community. Check out Belghast’s post on how to enter and where to find the community. I hope to see you in the Discord!

Game Merch Haul – Japan Edition

You thought I’d go to Japan and not come back without some game merch? No way! Games a re big in Japan. I saw ads for games everywhere, even mobile games. Many people spent their commute playing games on their phones.

They opened the Nintendo store the day after we left so we just missed it. But the lines were way too long anyway. Lining up at 6 in the morning only to be let in after noon is too long. Even with 13 days in Japan we didn’t have time enough to do (and eat) everything on my list.

Pokemon

We visited three Pokemon Centers: the one in Ikebukuro, the one in the Skytree complex, and the one next to the Pokemon Cafe where we ate later. I picked up the plushie you can see in the picture below, together with some stationery you can see here.

If you love games, Akihabara is the place to be. We found some shops with blind bags, one of them Pokemon themed. Now, these bags usually contain a lot of dead merchandise. Things that didn’t sell, are broken, or bad quality. Well, for 3000 yen (about 28 euro), I think I lucked out. The major prize isn’t in the picture, but it’s a 30 cm Dragonite plushie. That one alone was definitely worth it. And aside from the little Eevee figurines, all Pokemon stuff was in the bag. The Manaphie and Jiggly Puff are just too cute.

I bought the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue to play on my old Gameboy. I still haven’t given up on learning Japanese and this will motivate me even more.

Kirby

I really wanted a Kirby figurine for underneath my PC screen, but no matter how many capsules I pulled, no Kirby… Not even in the bath bomb with Kirby toy inside (highly recommend the bath bomb though). So I still have no Kirby, but a ton of other tiny monsters. One day, I swear, I will have my Kirby!

Totoro

Ok, technically not game merch, but this seems the perfect place for some Ghibli. I really love the Ghibli movies. The art and the stories are mesmerizing. I bought a blind box for Totoro. It was more expensive than a regular capsule toy, but the quality it much higher too. The plushie I bought at the airport with leftover money from our pasmo cards. It’s so soft and cute.

I could’ve bought a ton more, but my budget was spread out over several hobbies of mine, and fountain pens aren’t cheap. Maybe the next time things will be different. Maybe I’ll have a bigger budget or loose interest in one of my hobbies. But for now, it’s hard to go to Japan and not buy any gaming merchandise.

February Wrap-up

Ah, February. How I loathe thee. Winters are always dangerous for me because of all my health issues, but this year I found out my wind resistance is either zero or negative. It’s been a stormy month but not very cold. I always thought I was bad at handling the cold. Turns out I was wrong. It’s the cold wind that makes it painful to breathe, that sets my throat on fire, and makes my lungs feel like they’re made of metal.

So I spent most of the month in recovery mode which means my productivity tanked. I wrote two book reviews and four Friday posts for Narratess and only posted here once. I’m still on track for those goals, and I’m even a little ahead because I already have six (including this one) posts for my twenty post goal for Princess.

I finished four more books, two for book tours and two for Netgalley. Netgalley is a service that connects book reviewers, librarians and other professionals with publishers/authors. We get a free book in exchange for a review. This is usually to get reviews ahead of release and create hype. Goodreads says I’m four books ahead of schedule, but I know that once I start reading the real chonks (which is my goal this year) I’ll only finish one or maybe two books a month. Even when I’m actively working on my ‘reading once a day’ habit, a book with over 600 pages (and maybe even 800 pages) will take up significantly more time than a 230-page young adult romance.

Look, I’m an idiot. I said I wouldn’t do book tours a few years ago when I started adding more book-related posts to Narratess. Then I said I wouldn’t request more books from Netgalley because of the added pressure through reading deadlines. But I’ve done four book tours so far and I have a few more coming up. I also request four more titles on Netgalley last weekend. Sigh.

For games, there was only one: Wolcen. I already talked about it in a previous post and I’ll talk more about it in the future, but the bad weather also affected my hands. I wanted to play more Pokemon, more Stardew Valley, maybe even get back into Guild Wars, but none of that happened. And that’s okay.

Instead of gaming, I dived back into non-fiction. I started watching more videos on writing and personal development. Even on Netflix, I felt like I wanted to watch more documentaries or reality tv than sitcoms or fantasy series. It’s unusual for me to have this kind of clarity when my body is feeling like crap. Brain fog is real. So it’s a strange experience when my brain acts like a sponge and just wants to soak up everything. My headache isn’t gone (heck, it might be worse than other days) but I can think! I can process information! I draw conclusions based on the information I have! I can apply theory to practice! Seriously, it’s been years since I’ve experienced this.

It made me want to be more productive. So even though I didn’t post more or play more, I did write more. I finished a piece of flash fiction and submitted it (no word back yet), and my short story (granted, written in December) was selected as a finalist. The finalists were selected by industry professionals out of at least a hundred submissions. Knowing that these people loved my story enough to pick it as a finalist is huge and a great motivator to keep writing. I know some of you have voted, so thank you! 29th of March I know if I’ve won or not.

So I’m working hard on my writing career. I made a rough publishing outline for this year and a wishlist of books I want to write. For now, I’m still focusing on finishing the Infernal Contracts trilogy. Book 2 is getting a second draft with more words, better scenes and character growth. It hurt initially when I missed the December deadline, but I truly believe it’ll be a much better book now. I’m going to write the outline for book 3 when it’s with beta readers, so I can jump right in when the final draft is done.

March will be busy with nearly all of my weekends filled up with exhausting events. So I hope I can get my writing and editing done. I’ll do my best to post here more frequently (I still have so many drafts I want to finish), but Narratess comes first.

Manga Review: The Fox & The Little Tanuki, Vol. 1 by Mi Tagawa

Title: The Fox & Little Tanuki
Author: Mi Tagawa
Pages: 172
Release date: March 17th
Summary: Long ago, the gods granted a few special animals great powers… but not all those animals used their magical abilities for good! Senzou the Fox Spirit in particular grew too brash and arrogant, abusing his strength until the gods imprisoned him for his bad behavior. Three hundred years later, he’s finally been released, but only on one condition– he can’t have his any of his abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become an assistant to the gods. Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

I received a copy of this manga volume through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

It’s been years since I’ve read manga. Any manga. But I saw this one and knew I had to give it a shot. The title and the cover were enough to interest me.

When I was in Japan, my husband won me a plushie of a fox wearing a tanuki eye mask and I bought a blind box with the two animals as a small figurine. I don’t know how limited the pairing was, but I suspect that the fox is the main mascot of a store called Loft and the tanuki is just temporary. They’re incredibly cute together, so when I saw this manga, I knew it was for me.

Without even reading the summary I dived in. It didn’t surprise me it was about gods and bakemono. I like the Japanese folklore so even that was right up my ally. The mentor-apprentice relationship the fox and the tanuki have is incredibly cute too. There’s a lot of room for both characters to grow.

The side characters, another fox and two wolves, are adorable. I honestly love the stereotype characters and the world the author created. I don’t mind that their personalities are predictable because it’s the interaction between the characters and the situations they’re in that make the story.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of this series. Highly recommended if you’re interested in Japanese folklore and like cute art.

Trying Out Wolcen

Wolcen’s release was like a storm, one I wasn’t really prepared for. I heard people talking about it, sure. But I don’t pay much attention to early access games, or games in beta. So I heard people mentioning it, saying it was promising. That doesn’t always mean the end product will live up to the expectations.

I read Belghast‘s early impressions and decided to watch Rhykker’s sponsored videos, which consisted of an overview, short guide, and a build video. It was enough to convince me to try it.

Since the servers still have issues, I played offline. I usually play aRPGs solo, so I don’t mind much. That said, my husband and I bought copies with the intention to play together. And we will, as soon as things are fixed. For now, I’m just hobbling along in single player. I’m trying out different things, skills from Rhykker’s build (I love the turret, ok? Heimerdinger is one of my favourite champions).

I’m level 13 now with ranged/magic character. She’s using a pistol and a catalyst which allows her to pew pew really fast while still using spell to blast enemies away. Using a willpower skill will also speed up the process of gaining rage, the main resource for ranged characters. This also allows me to always have a damage skill available to me.

I was honestly pleasantly surprised that you can create your own class/build regardless of what you pick at the beginning of the game. Your character’s progression doesn’t even depend on which weapons you use, like in Dungeon Siege II. You can pick your weapons, pick skills associated with the weapons you have, and change your passives if you want (and have enough currency to do so).

So even if you have max leveled your character, you can still switch builds if you want. The only thing you might have to do is train your new skills.

Saying Wolcen is a love child between Diablo and Path of Exile is pretty accurate. Especially when you look at the passive skill tree, the gate of fates. It’s filled with nodes interconnecting with each other within a ‘class’ and another ‘class’, but you’re free to branch out. One thing Wolcen does differently is that each ring (three layers in total) can rotate, even after you’ve picked skills. So you can change up your build whenever you want with your available skill points.

I’ve only played a few hours but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s filling the hole after I’d completed the Diablo 3 season 19 and Path of Exile (nor Torchlight 3 Alpha) couldn’t fill it. The combat is much more dynamic than Diablo since you have to dodge skills. You also get a fair chance to do so with the telegraphs on the ground. It reminds me more of Guild Wars 2’s combat which I also really like. Rhykker said the Act 1 boss is pretty hard to beat if you don’t pay attention. I’m not the best player, but I do have experience with tough, multi phase bosses, so who knows. I’ll report back when I’ve passed that point.

January Wrap-up

I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these before, but I think now is a good time to start because things changed! I already posted about my goals for this year. One thing I didn’t mention was my five year goal of Marie Kondo-ing my Steam library. Hide all the games that I’m not going to play anyway, and keep the games that spark joy. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Spark Joy

My bookcase got a makeover as well and I have stacks of books that I want to sell or donate. With Steam I can’t sell or donate, but I can hide them. I already did this with games I really never ever going to play, like Half-Life 2 (yes, hate me), Insomnia, or other horror games. Now I’m adding more games to that list. Most of them are from Humble Bundles I bought for one or two games.

I also noticed that I really suck at platformers or really hard games (looking at you Darkest Dungeon). It doesn’t matter if I like them. If I feel like I’m not making any progression, I’m going to bin it. I’ll get no joy out of it just grinding and never getting anywhere.

Then there’s a category of games I’d like to play once and then I’m done with them. This one is huge and crosses all genres of games. I also stick games in there that I don’t know if I’ll like.

So when I started my process of cleaning up my library, I found some small games I wanted to finish before binning them; the Midnight Mystery games. I already finished two of them, but had three more. I finished those. Then I found another game much like it, and I finished that one too.

To 100% or Not

The fifth game I finished was a game I picked up in the winter sale. I no longer buy a game unless it’s in the sale and I want to play it immediately. Princess Maker 5 has been on Steam for awhile but the bad reviews kept me from buying it. Especially since it was still above 20 bucks and I didn’t have that much money. So I bought a visual novel with the same art.

The game has multiple endings, so finishing would technically be finding every ending, but I didn’t aim for 100% in other games, so why would it count for this one? I did three though before I marked it as finished. I’ll probably go back soon and find a few other endings because the mini game was pretty fun and I finally got the hang of it by the end of the game.

I still want to finish Grim Dawn. I’m about halfway through I think, without the DLC. I don’t think I’ll buy those because I have so many other games I have to try/play. And Spellforce is not a game you’ll finish in thirty hours.

It’s all about making choices and prioritizing games. Guild Wars 2 is shelved for the time being as I purge my library. Dragon Age Inquisition is there for when I don’t want to watch Netflix on my second screen. And now I found Aarklash Legacy. Have you played it? I think it’s a cute game (with death and destruction) but still challenging. I put it on super easy because I don’t have the mental strength to deal with anything more, but I still die. The combat is still challenging but once I remembered the pause button and things were much easier.

Goals and achieving them

I also finished reading four books, maybe five because I’m halfway through it. It was a mix of short and long books, but still. I feel like I’ve been more productive with the goals I set than I did with the 101 goals. I’m more focused now, actively seeking out things to do off my list (like writing this blog post) instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. Knowing I can tick off one small mini task or prep for a bigger goal is nice. And every tick I do is more motivation for the next thing I do.

For my 101 goals, I wanted to finish five games. In nearly three years I could barely finish two. Now I did five in one month. The only thing that changed was how I approached my goals. Reformulate some of them to be more focused.

I honestly hope I can be just as productive the rest of the year, but I doubt it. My reading goes down when I start writing or editing my own books. This month, I spend most of my time translating for a gig. So I didn’t have to be hyperfocused on my own story. I’ll start editing the follow up for Devil’s Deal in February which means I can’t read paranormal romance anymore. It would influence my own writing which could turn out bad. But that’s okay.

When you know you can’t read a specific genre, or even can’t do something during a specific time, you have to adjust. Anticipating this is what’s important. You can prepare for it and maybe try to do something during that time for one of your other goals. That’s why it’s good to have multiple goals.

I’ll keep doing this, check in at the end of the month. See what I have accomplished. Or not. I won’t really do gaming goals except that I want to clean up the mess that is my Steam Library. Doing these wrap-up posts also adds up to the twenty posts I want to do for this blog. Also expect a few more Tokyo blogs, and others about gaming in general.

20 Goals For 2020

As the year comes to a close and my bucketlist is all ticked off, I had a decision to make about my next goals. The 1001 days of my ‘101 goals, 1001 days’-project aren’t over yet, but I’ve decided to cut it short. While the idea is great, it’s not what I need right now.

I need more SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. All of the goals have to be part of a bigger, 5-year, plan. A path that will eventually lead me to my mountain — the summit of my success.

My husband came up with 20 goals for 2020. The bar is much lower than the 101 I had to come up before, and they all need to be doable within a year. It’s a mix of goals I had already planned, what my usual schedule is and things that were on my to-do list for last year.

My 20 goals

  • Publish book two and three of Infernal Contracts
  • Fit my wedding corset again
  • Read thirty books
  • Setup my affiliate links
  • Sort out bookcase
  • Participate in BBNYA as a panelist
  • Create the site map for the Lunis Aquaria website
  • Write 52 blog posts for Narratess (Friday posts)
  • Write 26 book reviews for Narratess (posted on Tuesday)
  • Write 20 posts for Princess In A Castle
  • Participate in Camp NaNo (either in April or July)
  • Rewrite Life in May
  • Make a resource page for book cover designers
  • Make a page with small busniesses related to fountain pens and stationery
  • Make a content plan for Instagram
  • Buy clothes that fit
  • Bake a new recipe, preferable pie or cake
  • Get back in the Duolingo routine for Japanese
  • Practice Japanese writing by copying lyrics
  • Fold 200 paper cranes

Overwhelmed

Let me just start off with a nice list. You’ll probably know where I’m going when you read it.

  • Guild Wars 2 Episode 1 of the Icebrood Saga came out
  • Diablo 3 Season 19 started
  • Stardew Valley 1.4 update came out
  • Pokemon Sword was released
  • The Sims Discover University came out

THERE’S SO MUCH THINGS I WANT TO DO!

Honestly, this is just the list of immediate things. I still have more I want to do, like finishing Dragon Age: Inquisition. But I’m not even counting those. My writing goals aren’t on this list either. Or all the Japan-related blog posts I want to write.

I’m overwhelmed. I’ve only been away for 12, 13 days, but so much has happened that I have a hard time catching up. I’m sorry if I haven’t read your posts, liked, or commented.

My husband says I have to prioritize, which is great advice. That puts Guild Wars 2 near the bottom of the list. I’ve unlocked the episode so I can play it whenever. The Diablo 3 season runs for another two months at least, so I don’t have to focus on that either. I really want to play the Stardew Valley update on the Switch, and that one hasn’t been released yet, which makes it less relevant. The Sims is a game I usually play when I’m not feeling too good, which isn’t now.

That leaves Pokemon Sword. Looking at it from this perspective has helped me to get rid of the overwhelmed feeling. I know what I want to do now (catch more wooloos, hope for a shiny).

I’m going to do another round of prioritizing with all of the things I want to do this month. I can already say that an amazing new project will be on my Instagram until Christmas day. Please check it out! The first post will be up soon.

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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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