Tag Archives: Dragon Age Origins

“I am no longer surprised at you knowing only six accomplished women…”*

I’m feeling unusually productive and accomplished today. Where I live, school is usually out around the end of May. I suspect June 1st will be our last day this year. This being the last week of March, and me being the mathematical genius that I am, I have calculated that I’m wading waist deep in crap creek if I don’t do better and get more done on HEROES UNDER SIEGE damned skippy.

Yes, I did order this

The action plan which involves sitting on my couch, staring at the blank screen and waiting for brilliance to strike from above has not been working for me. Especially lately since I’ve a) stopped hiding from Twitter and occasionally start that running and end up going to check out all kinds of distracting links every time I get bored with the waiting for words to appear, and b) got Dragon Age Origins for XBox and have been busy making Alistair fall for me all over AGAIN.

Yesterday I watched Cloverfield. Yes, it did kind of suck. And it’s unfortunate that the avant-garde camera work (trying to be generous) distracts from the movie’s other flaws. Like it lacking all but the barest sort of plot. Which really bit because it had potential. What there was of a script I actually really liked. But then, I’m ridiculously fond of disaster movies.

Sidebar: Incidentally, I have this theory about Generation X. Why are we such a bunch of slackers? Well what, really, can you expect from a whole generation brought up under a constant threat of nuclear holocaust? I mean, that was a very popular topic of handwringing when I was in school, and the teachers were constantly telling us that Reagan had his finger on the button (like, all the time, and it was twitchy, because, you know, Republicans can hardly be trusted with such things) and it was a terrible thing that were all likely to be vaporized at any moment. I grew up in what was an IBM town, back in the days of IBM, and that, combined with our proximity to NYC, allegedly put us high up on some kind of target list and would surely be one of the first places to be wiped off the map. One Sunday we walked into church and there were these big maps in the parlor that showed an impact point and a radii of DOOM AND CONSEQUENCES, and let’s all go and pray for disarmament. And, us being so close to the end of the world and all, so many of our movies were full of post-apocalyptic wonder. (You all want to go watch Cherry 2000 now, don’t you?)

Okay, so I’m using the “product of my environment” argument for both my poor taste in movies and the getting nothing done habits. And now that we’re clear on how none of this is my fault, back to Cloverfield. While the plot didn’t inspire, as a disaster movie with all the running around and escaping, it gave me renewed inspiration for exercise. Because, seriously, don’t you ask yourself, “How long would I last?”

[Other questions to ask: Why would anyone wear those shoes? Why would anyone volunteer to live in NYC as it is nearly always the first place to be attacked by aliens.]

Key members of the secret Zombie Nation have been working with the media to convince you that you actually want to wear those heels. You can run but you can't-- oh, wait, you can't run.

So after doing some Googling regarding fitness for the zombie apocalypse, I decided to try Couch to 5k. Put this whole plan in place that I would get right in the shower when I got up at 5:30, do some cleaning while I was getting B ready for school, go to the track as soon as the bus left and get my laps in, then go sit at the coffee shop and get my words in. In hopes that merely putting my butt on a different surface would inspire, I guess.

But it did. I did all that stuff this morning and wrote more in one sitting than I have in quite some time. For the first time in a little while I think it might be possible for me to do All of the Things, provided all of my things are still fewer than all of Kait’s things. [Kait being freakishly efficient and aka She who does All of the Things, in case you didn’t know.]

In fact, I believe I still have a bit of time left over, and there are still Darkspawn that need some killin’.

"I hear she has dual weapon mastery." "I hear she wields a full-sized blade in each hand." "Hold me!"

*

“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women, I now wonder at your knowing any.” ~Miss Elizabeth Bennet

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I have never been more a part of a story…

There are a handful of things I’m thinking and want to talk about today, surrounding the fact that I JUST finished Dragon Age Origins.

First of all, the important newsy news for those of you who witnessed the aftermath of my messy breakup with Alistair. I went back in time, way back to the earliest save I had, and played it again. I’m happy to report that this time I did better, I put Alistair on the throne and pretty much told him he’d be marrying me. And he fell in line, the way he’s supposed to, which is really so much more in character for him than the disaster that happened before.

I had a bad moment of deja vu there. The Landsmeet went so much better. No big battle and bloodshed in the hall, just the duel with Loghain, the other guy grabbing for power who was responsible for the death of the previous king. This time I was so badass that I hardly took any damage before Loghain yielded. That was cool.

Anyways, after the cut found me back in the same room as last time with Alistair bursting through the door. And I was like, oh no, not again! Cringing, waiting to get dumped again. But it was cool. He was like, so, we just got engaged? And he seemed pretty happy with that. So whew. That was awesome. See, real Alistair doesn’t mind me telling him how it’s going to be. Alistair likes that. I don’t know what that was about before.

“If I could turn back time

If I could find a way

I’d take back those words that hurt you

and you’d stay” —Cher

So I really loved playing it through again, not only because I understood the game better, was better at it, saw more of it, but because the going back in time part kind of blew my mind a bit. It was like that thing–okay, YOU probably don’t do this, but–where you go back in your head and do it all over again, with full knowledge of what you did wrong the first time, yet no one else has any idea that all of this has happened before.

As soon as I can figure it out, I’m totally plotting a book where this is a Talent. Our heroine, with some kind of ability to travel the timeline, must go back and do things differently. Of course, before traveling back, she will have been heinously dumped by her asshole boyfriend, whom she now despises. But when she goes back, he’s got no idea how things turned out between them. And he’s that guy again, that guy she fell in love with. He’s not the same guy who treated her so appallingly. Everything can be different this time.

Because it was really kind of fascinating to me to be playing this role, to still be pissed off at Alistair, and still charmed by him all over again. Reminding myself that this wasn’t the guy, and I can’t hold this guy responsible for what that guy said.

There’s a reason time-travel romance was a thing. It’s fascinating. Though we’ll just all agree, up front, that the Terminator will always rule.

Anyway, by now I shouldn’t have to actually tell you how epic this game is and that you should all play. And the last thing I want to mention today is an article in this month’s Game Informer magazine, an opinion column on “The Future of Media,” written by Brandon Sanderson. I wish I could find the article online to link you to it. I’ll give you the intro quote from the article:

“I remember how I felt when I first played Final Fantasy VII. I suspect my reaction was not unique–I came out of that game feeling, for the first time, like I’d played a movie.

“I think that’s the first inkling I had of what was to come, what is still coming. More and more, it seems that traditional lines between entertainment media–film, book, game, song–are blending together. I think that video games hold the future of what we might call the ‘uber-media’ form. The combination of all traditional arts into a single experience, mixed with the new art of the 20th century–the art of guided participation.”

Lest you brush off Sanderson as some gamer yahoo who couldn’t possibly know anything about books, if you follow the link above you’ll see that he was the author chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, amongst his other works.

He’s not talking about the end of the world as we know it, though. He states, “the book works as it is.” Yay for that. But it’s a really interesting view of the possibilities of telling stories to the gamer audience, both through games and beyond the games. Sanderson calls for these stories to expand on what’s in the game, rather than tell the same story over and over. He suggests, “We can release a super-package, where a fan can buy–in one download–a film, a parallel book that shows the story from another character’s viewpoint, a game that lets you play the prequel to the film, and the soundtrack.”

Sounds pretty interesting to me, especially having been totally wrapped up in my first “playing a movie” experience when I came across the article. If the subject of hybrid media and where it’s going is of interest, you might stop by a Gamestop and read it. Bring your glasses, the print in this thing is appallingly tiny.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t bought this game yet, you’re a huge slacker. What are you going to do for Thanksgiving, watch sports, the dog show? Come on.

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Listening to Angry Girl Rock, Cutting Up His Picture

Before I even get started, you should know the following:

Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for download at Amazon

  • This post may be spoilery regarding Dragon Age Origins
  • Parts of this post may not make a huge amount of sense if you don’t play DAO
  • I’m pretty pissed off and will be following this up with ice cream

I haven’t played DAO for a while, but I’m moving into this hugely busy time that flows right into the holiday season that flows right into the school is closed for snow every time I turn around season. So it just seemed like I needed to be proactive in dealing with stress and that it was time to see what was going on in Ferelden.

My DAO Character, Elissa

I hadn’t played Dragon Age for a while, because when I play it, it’s all I do. But it was lovely to be back, despite all the blood splatter. And when the plot brought in things that had happened before, I really remembered the parts I had played before in character, like they were my memories. Which they are, but…you know?

Well, anyway, I started to feel kind of snippy at one point because I’m just like, look, why do I have to do every damned thing around this world? Seriously, I’m just recruited to fight these Darkspawn things, and then next thing I know, Alistair and I are the only Wardens left. And even though he’s been in it longer and knows more stuff, he’s totally willing to let me take over and make all the decisions. Damn.But that’s okay, because at least he appreciates me and he’s charming and amusing.

Image from Dragon Age Wiki

Image from Wikipedia

I know the writers say they drew on Xander for this character, but I never though of him as a Xander–because of my virulent dislike for

Image from FireflyWiki

Xander. I think of him as much more Wash-like and try to look out for him and make sure he doesn’t get impaled on anything.

Anyway, yeah, every time I turn around, someone wants me to handle some other bit of business that is no killing Darkspawn. Dude, seriously? I’m everyone’s damned counselor, messenger, delivery girl, mediator, rent-a-cop, and I don’t know what all else. Basically, I’m the mom. I’m just supposed to do everything. Need the elves to help fight the Darkspawn? Fine, just solve their centuries old werewolf problem. Need the help of the Dwarves? Okay, just settle their political mess, get their next king crowned, and if that involves mucking around in creature infested caverns even the Dwarves themselves won’t touch, well, you’re the Warden, get to it. What the hell?

Okay, so I was glad it was getting to be time for the Landsmeet and I could finally call in some of these ridiculous favors I’ve been doing for the humans. Meanwhile Alistair’s still whining that he doesn’t want to be king. Well look, sweetie, if I were the royal bastard, I’d take the crown myself. But I don’t. And you know you don’t want to leave things in the hands of the guy who let all the other Wardens, your mentor, and the previous king get slaughtered, so man up. Anyway, I’ve got this totally under control. I may not be royal, but I was still born noble, so I figure Alistair and I can hook up and I can just going on running things, just like I’ve been running every damned thing since my family was killed and I got recruited into this crazy story.

And I know this is a game possibility, so it’s cool. Well, we get to the Landsmeet and things do NOT go as expected. Apparently I didn’t do ENOUGH favors. Really? Are you kidding me? Bloodshed ensues until the head mage chick puts a stop to it. Now you’d think at that point she could throw some support behind the Wardens. After all, we did spend a significant amount of time and energy saving her tower and her entire order from demons. But no. Next thing I know there’s going to be a duel for the crown.

Well, I tried to let Alistair fight his own battles, but it only took a few embarrassing defeats and reloads to realize that he wasn’t going to get it done. So fine, I’ll be his champion. I’m not going to fault him for this or cast aspersions on his manhood. Loghain is a seasoned general and kinda bad-ass, and maybe it just takes a little roguishness to get this done.

So after I brought him to his knees and he yielded the crown to Alistair, then Alistair wants to be a complete butthead in front of the entire assembly and not allow me show Loghain mercy and not allow a reasonable request that he be allowed to become a Warden. Because Alistair’s all “becoming a Warden isn’t a punishment, it’s an honor, and I won’t have it!” Oh, nice. Make him king and all of the sudden he wants to be all kingly.

So fine, I let Alistair have his way. I mean, isn’t the whole relationship about me doing what Alistair wants anyway? Except for these very few times when I just don’t have any other choice like in making him king.

So then, THEN, he comes to me right after that and HE FREAKING BREAKS UP WITH ME!!! Citing his need for a legitimate heir. And I’m apparently too tainted by the Darkspawn blood we had drink at our induction to the Grey Wardens to make a suitable heir bearer or some shit.

OMG, you guys, I was beyond pissed. He gave me that, “I have to make a clean break of it now because I love you and I won’t be able to do it later.” Grrrrrr…. And for once, I actually let him have it. Because really, why not? He was just done, just like that. And there was no talking to him. And then he has the nerve to walk off with “Alistair Disapproves -10.” He’s so lucky the game doesn’t let me have real free will so I could follow him and kick his ass (because you know I could) and give him -10 teeth.

After all I have done for this guy! I mean, seriously! Do you have any idea how much I have TRIED in this relationship? Do you have any idea how I have tip-toed around his delicate, virginal, Templar sensibilities? Maybe I was just crazy to think a Templar and a Rogue could ever make a thing work. Are we just another victim of superhero romance?

Yeah, so, obviously I’m still simmering over that. And when I get done simmering I’m going to go back, start over, fix what I did wrong, and make it come out so that he accepts the crown and me as queen, dammit. Because I lurv the idiot and this game is awesome.

Speaking guys I love and awesome things, just wanted to mention that today my husband and I have been married for 20 years. Here I am with my bridesmaids.

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Zelda, Dragon Age, and the power of choice

So you know how lots of us are into the motivational prizes? Just get your work done and you’ll win the right to buy this thing you want or some free time to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do. I’m sort of meh on whether or not this kind of self-denial really works for me. After all, if I deny myself one thing, I can keep from doing it, but I’ll often just do something else instead, defeating the purpose.

I realize that, while I used the excuse of entertaining my girl who likes to watch video games and play vicariously, I kind of substituted playing Zelda Twilight Princess on the Wii while denying myself Sims Medieval. And as I said in a recent post, I’m interested in seeing how Link’s story turns out. I want to know more. But I don’t love the game.

In the comments to that post, Lisey suggested I check out Bioware’s offerings. And as I was not feelin’ the love for Sims Medieval, I did. So I went out and got Dragon Age: Origins.

Oh. My. God.

Thank GOODNESS this was after I had finished the draft because, dude, it became my full time job to save Ferelden from the coming Darkspawn. Like, seriously, I was in that game at least 40 hours in the first week I had it. I could hardly stop playing it and I could not stop thinking about it. After that full-time week of work as a Gray Warden, I went down to Florida (where I managed to play it some more even though Disney is exhausting). In the car on the ride down, when my brain should have been working on book 3 of the Talent Chronicles, all I could do was daydream game fic.

I haven’t even come close to finishing the game, but now that my world’s opened up to this new genre for which I obviously need a 12-step, I’m already shopping around for “more like this.” And I’m also trying to figure out what it is about this game that makes me love it so much. Of course nothing ever comes down to just one thing, but here’s one I’ve been thinking about. (And you might want to take into account that I’m not an experienced gamer, so I may get stuff wrong or express ideas in some non-standard way. The console I had before the Wii was Atari 2600.)

There’s only one way for Link to go about saving Hyrule. You go the way you need to go, you fulfill the tasks you need to do, you slay the boss that needs slaying, and you move through the game in a very linear fashion. You do something else, you’re no longer moving forward and it’s obvious you’re not moving forward.

My Hero in Dragon Age has a lot more choice. And the choices matter. At one point, early on in the game, we came to a town that was having a lot of problems and the Darkspawn (the vicious hoard of underground monsters that are coming above ground to take over) were getting closer. I had a certain direction, something that needed to get done, and not being familiar with the game, I moved through the town fairly quickly and on to complete my task. I never stopped in the tavern, so I never met an important character in the story. That decision changes my story. The town was overrun by the Darkspawn after that and is closed to me. I’ll probably never meet that character. Parts of the game will never open to me (unless I play it again) because of that decision.

Now on one level, hey, that kind of sucks. But on another, how much importance do I now feel in my decisions? What I choose to do matters in a way that’s different from other games, because certain choices by me can radically alter the story I’m experiencing. And that’s actually pretty cool.

So today is Monday, and on Mondays I talk about writing. Do I have a writing point to make? Well, other than to confess how much I really want to write Choose Your Own Adventure right now, I think the lesson I get from this is that choice matters. Or it should.

Know what’s hard sometimes? Allowing a character to make the wrong choice. And then punishing them. But that’s where some of the best story stuff comes from, allowing a character to dig themselves into an ever-deepening hole until she learns enough from her mistakes to start climbing out of it.

Imagine two different stories.¬† In one story, the character makes a series of decisions that work out rather well in getting that character from the beginning to the end. And there’s good characterization and enough going on that it makes for a nice read and we all follow along happily to The End.

In another story, the character struggles with two different alternatives. Chooses one and ends up going backward or dealing with harsh consequences. The next time that character comes to a crossroads, how much more invested might we be in that character’s next decision? How emotional will we get when she makes the same mistake again, getting even more off track? And how much more invested will we ultimately be in the story?

Something to think about, anyway.

Assuming what I just babbled made any sense at all.

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