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Missed the first two parts? You can find them here and here.

This story is copyright Emily Rush, 18.April.2014. All rights reserved. Yadayadayada.
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He grabs is lance and begins the trudge through the snow.

Crunch.

Crunch.

Crunch.

His footfall breaks the freshly laid snow. He is the lone beacon of humanity in this godforsaken place. He knows that others will inquire if there has been any sign of the beast. He’s not sure if the asking is out of sincere interest or to mock him as he stands lone sentinel in the cold and snow, waiting patiently.

He sighs deeply, taking in some of the ice-cold air. He shivers a moment as he takes another step forward. It’s a daily vigil where he stands guard.

He looks up to the sky, what was grey and drab the day before has become a brilliant blue and bright with the long absent sun that he’d been missing for many a day. The snow’s surface reflects the light like a brilliant frosted mirror making this otherwise drab canyon vibrant. For the first time in… well, sometime as he couldn’t quite recall when, he heard the chirp of birds, awakened from their chilly and dark slumber into this vibrant bright winter morning.

He sticks his spear in to the snow. It was much deeper than he thought it was. He didn’t remember it being so deep the day before.

“It must have been quite the snowfall last night..”, he aloud to himself.

He sucks in some more of the frigid air as he thinks about if he missed the creature again last night. Once again his brain raced, trying to think if he might have missed any clue, any bit of visual information as to whether the beast had moved in the night. His eyes dart back and forth looking for any little clue, any shred of evidence that this creature did indeed still live in this cave.

No matter how hard he searched, he found nothing. Just the pristine white snow marred only by his footfalls. He couldn’t recall any bellows in the middle of the night, no sounds of loud crunching… everything he recalled when the beast had stirred and reared his gruesome head, baring red, barbed fangs and acrid breath, everything that stirred fear in men. It was a brutal day of carnage, one that he had never experienced before or since.

Sakura Kumanoko 01_19_2014 12_42_36

Cid the garlean and a mini-Magitek

So, I’m going to be candidly honest here. I don’t like MMO’s. I don’t. I have a hard time getting motivated to play something with no real story to speak of. I don’t care how rich the background may be. If the game itself doesn’t really have a story, I check out quickly. I admit that I love stories in my game.

My first experience with an MMO-type of game was Elder Scrolls 2: Morrowind. It wasn’t online as video game systems weren’t there yet. All my Everquest playing friends would tell me how much this reminds them of Everquest.

Moogles in the Shroud

Moogles in the Shroud

As I started to play the game, there really wasn’t much of a story to speak of. I played the game for five minutes including character creation. Nothing about it grabbed me. I’ve tried playing various MMO’s and each time they would bore me fairly easily. I even played Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online. I love the Shin Megami Tensei universe and their games generally have good stories. Not even that game could get me to play for more than an hour or two before giving up.

That’s pretty much history with MMO’s. So, you kind of get an idea of what the tenure of this review would be… an MMO review written by someone who doesn’t like MMOs.

We were walking around the dealer’s room at Comic Con last year. We decided to out the game demos

An Elezen lancer fighting. The cross-bar set-up is for the PS3, all in-game images are from the PS3.

My Elezen lancer fighting. The cross-bar set-up is for the PS3, All in-game images are from the PS3.

at the Square Enix booth. While we were there, they asked if we would like to try the beta test for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I hadn’t realized that Final Fantasy XIV had been out in the first place, with good reason. Since MMO’s aren’t my thing, it wouldn’t have mattered to me if had come out or not. We both debated it because neither of us are MMO players. Since it was a free demo, we figured that it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. If we didn’t like it, we didn’t lose anything by playing for free.

So, we signed up and started playing during the beta test.

When we started playing, I didn’t think that I would like the game. After all, I have yet to find an MMO that spoke to me. That kept my attention for long periods of time. I didn’t expect much from this game.

The character window

The character window

When I had started creating my character, I had no idea how to feel about it. It looked like fairly standard MMO character creation. You get to choose from 5 different races: Hyur, Elezen, Miqo’te, Roegadyn and Lalafell. While there are plenty of choices to choose from, there are only a certain amount per race. Part of the character creation will also let you know what natural elemental resistance you will have (my character has a natural resistance to water). This is fairly in-depth, but not nearly as much as some other games that look like they gave you the character designer to play with.

That being said, I was pleased to see that the story wasn’t just going on in this world that I happened to be a part of. I wasn’t just there to help move a story that I felt no connection to or even really didn’t care about. Instead of that, you are instantly engaged in a story that makes it’s clear that you are integral to the world, very similar to every other Final Fantasy game.

What crafting looks like.

What crafting looks like.

The story is engaging and interesting. It managed to keep me interested the entire time. Like most Final Fantasies (with the exception of XII, which was more political intrigue and not about how some megalomaniac that’s trying to destroy the world) it’s about a possible end of the world scenario. So, how do you make it work it a world that is actively being played by thousands of people? You alter it to create a party scenario that can incorporate an unnamed amount of people.

And it works… Or rather, it works for me. It’s everything that I expect and enjoy in a Final Fantasy game.

Square Enix is known for constantly working to enhance their battle mechanics. That’s something that happened between Final Fantasy XIV and A Realm Reborn. Whether it’s a good or bad change, I can’t say fortunately. I didn’t play Final Fantasy XIV. So, all my perspectives are solely from A Realm Reborn.

Seasonal event quest window (New Year's)

Seasonal event quest window (New Year’s)

So, how playable is it to MMO players?

While I am not a fan of MMOs and admit to having not really played any for any length of time beyond an hour, because of the social aspect of the game, I have talked to others who have played MMOs. The response is mixed. Some people really like the game others, not so much. Most of those who dislike the game make sure to talk about it on the game’s forum. The forum is a fairly active one. It’s also been beneficial to the game as the developers read the forum and do use input from the gamers about what they would like to see.

So, do I like the game?

While there are many aspects to MMOs that I generally don’t like; I feel that A Realm Reborn does a

Fighting in a fate (mini boss fights that happen outside of dungeons)

My scholar fighting in a fate (mini boss fights that happen outside of dungeons)

pretty good job of engaging all players. It does it so well, that it was called the most accessible game for people with disabilities in 2013. That’s not something to sneeze at. They have attempted to make the game so anyone can play. In many ways I think that they’ve succeeded.

There are so many things that I like about this game. It’s not a free MMO. You have to pay for the game and there is a monthly subscription fee (you can opt to pay in chunks as well as month to month). The fee is nominal. And other than additional retainers beyond the 2 you’re given in-game, nothing is hidden behind a pay wall. Everyone has equal access to all content in-game.

The aesthetician

The aesthetician

While there was bonus content for people who bought the collector’s edition, it’s something you can buy later if you want it. It is also stuff that isn’t a major loss. They were small items that don’t affect game play. It wasn’t like Bethesda locking an entire race behind a pay wall. It’s not clear whether Imperials will be unlockable for a nominal fee later on.

I like that Square didn’t make a whole race that isn’t playable unless you pay an extra fee. The extras, while nice, aren’t huge deal.

The patches continue to morph both gameplay and story as they add both new content and improve upon mechanics that pre-exist in the game. Now, I’m sure that this is true with MMOs across the board, I enjoy some of the little touches that have been added like seasonal quests.

Merlwyb, the Admiral of La Noscea

Merlwyb, the Admiral of La Noscea

I also enjoy both the crafting and gathering classes. I can spend hours weaving. I have spent hours fishing as well. It’s fun. It also doesn’t detract from gameplay. If you just want to dungeon crawl, you don’t need to do the crafting or gathering classes. I do think that you do need to forward the story at least to be able to easily travel between city-states to get more crafting skills and gathering items can only be found in certain areas, so in that sense, you can’t just go in to craft and gather.

How do I feel about this game overall?

A sleeping chocobo

A sleeping chocobo

I enjoy it immensely. I enjoy it so much, I still actively play it to this day… largely with the same character that I created back in beta. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re not a huge fan of MMOs. It’s an MMO that doesn’t feel like one. The game play is fun and interesting. The story is equally interesting and as content expands, so does more history about the world you’re playing in. It’s a game that is accessible to those with disabilities making it a more inclusive world.

I can’t say whether I think everybody should go buy this game yesterday because it really depends on the player. But it is a fun game that continues to engage its players in an interesting way. They continue to add story and history to explain where and how we find out how we got here.There are plans to add new jobs and new races. And it was recently released to the PS4, so it looks that the player base will

A dark summoner summoning

A dark summoner summoning

continue to expand.

I’m going to create another post giving more specific detail. I realized as I was writing this that there was so much I wanted to write about that I couldn’t easily fit into one post. The first is my impressions of the game. The next one will be getting in to more specifics, game mechanics, more information about the plot and other sundry information… and yes, there will be more screenshots.

Here we are, once again, back at Monday. That means that it’s time to think about what to do about post for the week ahead.

So, what to write, what to write. This work week will be shorter than normal. Most everyone else is away on holiday. That means I have more real time to write (yay). So, what do I want to write…

I have a completed review of Final Fantasy XIV. So, yes, the review will be coming your way complete with pictures.

I would like to get some more short story writing done. I might post both short stories in the same week. That’s something that I haven’t done as of yet. I’m feeling creatively invigorated. It’s been some time since I’ve felt this way. So, maybe it’s time to do some more creative writing.

I also feel the need to write more about anime and manga. It’s something that I love and enjoy so much. I feel like that has lagged. I think to start writing more about anime by doing a long absent review of Attack on Titan. I would also like to write about the manga series “Ooku”. I’ve read it since it was released I believe two and a half years ago.

I think I’m coming in to an exciting time in writing for me. I hope that you will see some of it as well. I hope you enjoy what will be coming for you this week!

Death and Emotion

It’s been about 2 weeks since my grandmother died. Last week was the funeral. I’ve tried to sort through the myriad of feelings that come with this period of change and death.

While death is generally viewed as a time for sadness, it can also be a time of reflection and celebration. At least that’s how I like to see funerals. Not a mourning of what has passed, but a celebration of what that person has brought to your life, the life of your family and the world.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t feel like what you get with Catholic ceremonies.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of funerals. I worked at a cemetery. Part of the job was that someone from the cemetery has to be at the funeral and can not leave until after the body had been laid to rest and was secured. I have also been to easily over 50 Catholic funerals. Most of the people who were buried in the cemetery I used to work at were Italian. So, I’m quite familiar with the process of the Catholic funeral. However, the most depressing funeral that I attended was an Armenian funeral. It was hard to sit through. It didn’t help that the deceased was in her fifties and her much older mother was at the funeral and almost threw herself in the grave.

Needless to say, I’m pretty familiar with what happens at a funeral.

The entire time that I was there I had a hard time divorcing myself from what I have always done when I was working at the cemetery. I felt that I needed to work. Even though it was a funeral for a member of my family, I still felt like that was what I needed to do.

I’m still trying to feel less emotionally drained. The process tends to be an introverts nightmare. You are surrounded by people with no real way of getting time to not be around people.While I feel slightly less drained, I’m still trying to sort how I’m feeling.

While I’m not entirely surprised that I don’t have as strong a feeling of loss, a part of me is bothered that this situation doesn’t make me cry. It feels like something that should happen, but I can’t.

I wonder if a part of that is because I’ve always felt like the black sheep of the family. There was never really the same connection that I have with my mother’s mother. I think in that sense, it makes it more difficult to have sense of sadness that you would think that I should have.

I think another thing that I’m feeling is that I have this sense that I’ll never really been seen as part of the family. I go to family stuff and so forth, but at the same time… I don’t always get that sense. Some times I feel like I’m there as a courtesy.

It’s not exactly a great place to be. It’s something that I need to work my way through and figure out how best to deal with it. More than anything I also think that I need more time where I can spend more time being somewhat hermit-like and doing what I love and want to do.

I’ll close with a sad, but poetic anecdote. My grandfather has dementia. His memory is very short. He doesn’t have much of a short-term memory. As my mom and dad were taking him back to the rest home he asked where his wife was. He was told that he had died and that her funeral was earlier in the day. He asked if he went. He was told he did.

Welcome to the next installment in this ever-expanding story. Now you might ask yourself how did we get here? Well, now you can find out. Clink on the link right here if you’re interested in reading what happened up until now.

And like always this story is copyright Emily Rush, 9.April.2014. All rights reserved, yada yada yada

Now enjoy the story!
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The boy takes his glass with great relish.

“To the possibilities of the future.”, the boy says.

He picks up and lifts his glass. Even though the night has been full of more than he imagined it would be, the future is still undecided. He hasn’t decided what his decision will be. Then there’s the band’s future. There’s so much at risk and yet, at the same time, so many things that could yield positive gains. He didn’t want to think of what could go wrong. His day has been a of some pretty massive changes. It’s more than he would have ever imagined.

“Kanpai.”, he says as he raises his glass.

“K-Kanpai.”, he boyfriend chimes in.

The glasses clink and they take a sip of the sake in their glasses. It’s the first of many glasses that will be drank as they watch movies and hang out.

The night passes with American movie after movie. Some good, some mediocre, many left them all wondering how was they ever green-lighted. It became clearer as time went on that all three of them were starting to feel tired. He looked at the boy and his boyfriend. He sighed deeply. No matter how hard he thought about it, he wasn’t sure if he was willing to share their bed, the bed he shares with his boyfriend. As painful and uncomfortable as it might be he kept thinking that maybe it would be more bearable to just sleep on the couch.

He looks at his boyfriend and says, “C-could w-we all s-sleep together?”

It was the one thing he wasn’t comfortable with.

“Given what I was just asked tonight… dating the boy…”, he thinks, looking into his boyfriend’s eyes.

He sighs a heartfelt sigh and scratches his head.

“Well, I think that’s entirely possible. You’re bed is large enough…”, he says, inching in closer to his boyfriend, plopping his hand on his thigh.

The boy raises an eyebrow and says, “That is true… I think all three of us could fit in there…”

The boyfriend’s face turns a bright shade of red as he hears responses that he might not be ready for.

He rubs his boyfriend’s leg and says, “Don’t worry about it. I’m not going to do anything you’re not ready for. I’m OK with just sleeping.”
(To be continued)

The Week in Preview

Here we are again, back at Monday Funday. Time to do my plans for the week.

I’m back and ready to write more. Last week became an interesting emotionally charged week for me. So, that’s one thing I will be writing about. I have an interesting mix of emotions going on within me.

I’m doing it. I’m actually going to post my Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn review. This will happen this time. No more putting it off. It will be complete with screen caps from the game.

I think I might also put up some more of one of my short stories. I’m not sure which one though… I really feel the need to work on both of them again. I like where they’re both going.

As for the rest of this week… I’m not quite sure. I will figure it out. I feel like since I wrote about the beginning of the first season of Space Dandy that I might want to do a review of the season.

What else will happen, who knows? We’ll see as the week goes on.

Until then.

Mental Break

If it wasn’t entirely clear from yesterday’s post, I figured I would state it here.

I’ll be taking this week off as I deal with this death. While writing does help with processing the issue, I also need time to think about it in the first place. So, there will be no guarantee of posts for this week. I will return on Monday with some brand-spanking new content… and possibly a post-funeral piece of processing.

Until then!

Here we are, back at another Monday. This is when I normally start to talk about what I plan t write for this week.

This week is going to be a bit different.

OK, not a bit different. This is going to a lot different. A part of my life has changed in a way that requires some processing… and I feel the need to take this time to process. So, here we go.

My life took a change this weekend. Someone who had been in my life for my entire life is no longer in it anymore.

That is the most vague way possible that I can put it.

More specifically, I lost a family member on Saturday morning. My grandmother, my father’s mother, passed away. She lapsed into a coma Thursday night. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January. We were told 6 months.

My dad saw her the week before she passed on. He said that she looked like she was doing fine. This whole event has taken us by surprise because she was doing OK… as good as one can expect someone to be with terminal cancer.

It’s anyone’s guess why she died when she did. It could be that she felt that everyone in her family was taken care of and happy and she felt she could leave peacefully and not worry about people in her family. That’s what I would like to think. That and she was getting tired from the pain.

So, now I’m working through the process of grief.

This is where things get a little more interesting for me. I was never all that close to my dad’s parents. I don’t remember seeing them all that often. I remember visiting their house once. I would see them on Xmas and on birthdays. So, I was never particularly close to them.

I’m a bit thrown for a loop, because this is hitting me harder than I thought it would.

So, now I’m wondering why is this hitting me as hard as it is.

Perhaps it’s because my father’s parents, my grandparents have always been there. That means that this will be the first year where she won’t be there. Someone who’s been a constant in my life for the past 34 years won’t be there.

I’m also concerned about my father and my aunts and uncle. I lost a grandmother, they lost a parent.

I know that we all grieve in our own ways. I tend to use humor, self-introspection and my writing as ways to deal with negative emotions and more importantly grief.

So, here I am.

I seem to vacillate between being OK and being upset. Not too surprising. I’m trying to actually experience these feelings instead of burying them like I usually do. I need to take this time to actually experience the grief instead of what I normally do.

So, here I sit, dealing with the mix of emotions that are coming to me. All I can do is take it one day at a time. Take it slowly and pay attention to how I’m feeling. Some days will be easier than others, but all I need to do is keep trying to move forward.

A Quickie for Friday

Even when I plan to have some great plans for the week, sometimes life has a way of slapping me in the face. This week it was once again issues with gluten. While I feel better, I’m still getting over the related fatigue.

Am I using this as an excuse?

Nope. I hate that I haven’t been able to write all the things that I have wanted to. More than anything, I get down on myself about it.  I shouldn’t. It’s something that I can’t control.

I seem to be over the worst of it… if not over it entirely. I no longer feel constantly exhausted all the time. I finally feel like I’m driving through the other side of a fog.

You know what, time to not focus on the bad. Time to move onwards and upwards and try to keep up as much productivity as I can.

Until Monday!

Just to get the legalities out of the way. This is copyright Emily Rush, on this day of 26.March.2013. All rights reserved. Yada yada yada.

If you’re just coming to this story, here’s the first part.

Enjoy!
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He slowly pulls on his undergarments, thinking about whether he will see the beast again. Is this really going to happen today? Doubt started crawling in to his brain.

He picks up the pieces of his armor. Slowly putting them on, piece by piece. Putting each piece as though it were a quiet meditation. Slowly breathing as he attached each piece of armor. As if the act of dressing was itself was meditation.

After he took his morning meditation. He took a moment to look around his small, local abode. It’s not nearly as palatial as the home he is used to.When one gives in to obsession, comfort is often a casualty. The only thing that is important is the hunt, the pursuit of this beast.

He takes a long, forlorn sigh as he grabs his lance.

“I will get this beast. I will get this beast.”, that phrase has become his daily mantra for as long as he can remember.

As he thought back about when this first started, he found it difficult to recollect. When did this come about. When did this creature infect every thought and every waking moment. Has it been one month? Two months? A year? The more he thought about it, the more confused he became. He could never pin point the day it happened. Perhaps this thinking was like a disease, slowly creeping in to the incorporeal edges of other thoughts until all that was left was this beast.

He swings open the door on the hovel that he now calls home, only to be welcomed by the bright white glare of the morning sun reflecting on the powdery snow that fluttered to the ground the night before.Ad his eyes adjusted to the bright light of the morning, he could still see that snow was drifting in on each gust of wind.

He sighs as he realizes that it will be a very long day.

“Sitting and staring won’t get us anywhere.”, he says under his breath.

(To be continued)

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