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I'd like to take this opportunity to direct your attention to an excellent fic in progress, that I happen to be beta'ing.

Title: The Half Life of Element Zero
Fandom: Dragon Age and Mass Effect crossover
Pairing: Lady Inquisitor/Solas, Lady Inquisitor/Cullen
Categories: ADVENTURE
Length: 10k and counting
Warnings: Violence, swearing - nothing that would be out of place in canon.
Summary: After being discharged from the Alliance, Commander Helen Trevelyan joined the Andromeda Initiative, thinking to leave her personal tragedies and a psycho ex-boyfriend behind her. She expected to sleep for 600 years, and wake up in a med bay. Instead, she crash-landed on the side of a snow-covered mountain, ten-thousand years later. She is alone, confused, and dying from eezo radiation. And the only sign of civilization is an old church in the distance. A Post-Modern Girl on Thedas fic.

What I thought: God damn, fish-out-of-the-water crossover fics aren't usually my thing but this one is really good. The author does a good job of exploring the consequences of Helen's crash landing in Thedas. Balding, medieval-quality hygiene, translator problems, and culture shock abound. And there's a reason why an Andromeda Initiative biotic landed in Thedas, of all places. Problems are fully explored and not handwaved away with space magic. I particularly appreciate the author's Solas POVs.

[x] linguistic stick up the ass
[x] kinda racist
[x] obviously up to things
[x] not the only one whose friends are all dead

I'm a beta for this fic and I can't spoil anything but this fic is going places.

duinemerwen: (garrus)
2017.04.24 00:31 - the vending machine
Last week all the snacks were replaced with Munchies snack mix and the bottom flap told me to smoke weed everyday.

Also, Bioshock Infinite was not the game I needed to play last week. Its themes of american exceptionalism and nationalism are, how say, a lot more relevant now than they were in 2013. And I already knew the ending but this time I found it impossibly hopeless and demoralizing because sometimes things never change.

There are a million million worlds. All different and all similar. Constants and variables. There's always a lighthouse. There's always a man, there's always a city... I can see them through the doors., Columbia, Songbird... But sometimes, something's different...yet the same.
duinemerwen: (that's not how the force works)
 Reviews for Andromeda have been mixed - ranging from "it's pretty good!" to "it has some technical problems" and "AN AAA GAME UNDER 80 ON METACRITIC IS A FAILURE, EVEN DRAGON AGE 2 GOT 82/100" - so I was pretty wary of spending 90 buckaroos on a game. 

Well Shivani and I went splitsies on it and I'm happy to say it doesn't suck. I like it a lot

- It definitely feels like Dragon Age Inquisition IN SPACE but somewhat less tedious because movement speed is faster.
- Planet scanning is somehow back with even longer animations which is annoying because there are A LOT OF PLANETS
- Combat is great! The jumping is great! The scenery is beautiful! 
- All the jumping and lack of being able to direct squadmate powers at a single target anymore though means that combat is a lot less tactical than before :( 
- Driving the Nomad is. Alright. It's a lot better than running around a forest in Dragon Age Inquisition, for sure. 
- Love the Tempest and the crew. Great ship layout. Squadmates are great too. I don't hate any of them. 
- I miss the more "Renegade"-flavoured options but I'm sure the protagonist will grow into them. 
- I tried to style my PC as ginger Negasonic Teenage Warhead with red hair but I ended up with Tommen Baratheon again. 
- I'd like to play on insanity but the save system (no saving during priority missions...) often means going back to loot a container several times because I died. So, I've been playing on hardcore instead. 
- The "banter bug" from DAI is back :( 
- I'm not done yet but the sequel is gonna be awesome 

As a $45 (with the friendo discount) this is great. Is this game worth $90? Maaaaaybe, if they'd fixed the banter bug and shortened the planet scanning animations. 
duinemerwen: (garrus)
2017.03.11 23:30 - Last month
- I went to Cuba and burned the skin on my face off. It was great! Maybe pictures up eventually.
- I installed ~55 Skyrim mods (including Requiem) and have been playing since.
- Today, we met one of Justin's college friends for dinner. It turned out to be a pyramid scheme. I am sad, because she did seem like a lovely person until she started talking about finance and self-employment and I realized that when she asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" she wasn't looking for an answer like "on the couch eating dinner, with a cat."
- I think "Call Your Girlfriend" is officially my least favourite song. I hate the condescending tone, the attempt to rationalize that everything is OK, and the lie that she cares. Girl, you know what was gonna happen when you did it... and you did it anyways. You don't really give a shit about her feelings. You care about damage control. Is this song supposed to invoke disgust? But what makes it my least favourite song is that I like the beat and the production. What a fucking waste. Robyn is great. Who green-lit this? 
duinemerwen: (Default)
2016.12.01 07:25 - Embracing Satan
Today, I told Adam to embrace Satan into his heart so that he'd burn at the threshold of the church and wouldn't have to suffer through the Christmas service with his girlfriend. He is an atheist, I'm gently agnostic, and his GF is quite Catholic.

Later, I asked him to explain cross-nested choice models to me and he said he'd do it, "but what's in it for me?" I said I wouldn't mention Satan again. And he said, "I'll take it."

ALSO I did catch a Bioware employee in a Platinum PUG in Mass Effect 3 (Hydra/Cerberus) last night. I outscored him (and everyone else) by 30%. I would have been happier if the host hadn't taken advantage of the Hydra map glitch and spent the entire match camping behind a decorative box.
duinemerwen: (that's not how the force works)
I played DnD with the group on Saturday. To summarize the session...

  • They finished reanimating the druid-turned-potato farmer (me)

  • Got into an elevator

  • Began playing elevator music with the pyromancer on the spare femur, the ranger with two potion bottles, and the pirate on the washboard (on the carcass of a sandworm...). The pirate was, unexpectedly, the best musician, because he rolled a 18 and had a +5 dexterity bonus.

  • Destroyed some water elementals in the elevator. I cast wild spell into a domestic goose to survey the battlefield (in the elevator), dive bombed the last elemental, and morphed moose to obliterate it.

  • Pulverized a door leading to the mcguffin

  • Realized we needed to track down an overgrown sea snake to destroy the barrier around the mcguffin

  • Visited the pirate tavern, where the pyromancer started playing dice poker... and wouldn't stop...

Then it was past 1AM. Four of us live in Scarborough (why don't we ever host games there? oh yeah, because Shivani is the only one with her own apartment and booze fridge) and three of us had to take the vomit comet home because Sedlak was the only one smart enough to walk to Union Station instead, having realized that the subway would shut down by the time we took the streetcar to the Bloor-Danforth and transferred to the Yonge line. Someone actually did vomit on the bus.

Speaking of late night, extending the time for last call in Toronto means the end of cold tea in Toronto, sort of.

But anyways it was a great Saturday. I have plans for my character. Incidentally all the other players are some flavour of Chaotic, so I have chosen to play a Lawful Neutral character.

Now it is Wednesday. I have an exam tomorrow (probably the last one ever!)
duinemerwen: (Ampersand)
Title: Variations on a Theme, with Tank and Gunfire
Fandom: Mass Effect
Categories: AU
Length: ~38 000 words
Warnings: M for language, occasional sexual situations.
Author: servantofclio
Author's Summary: Shepard finds herself reliving the last few years, from the beacon on Eden Prime to the battle on Earth. Again, and again, and again. How much can she change? How much should she change?

My thoughts: I think I figured out why I find the Witcher series less compelling than other series. It doesn't inspire me to read fanfiction or ask "what if?" as much as other franchises because:
a) The Witcher 3 is already very fleshed out, as a world. You could add more to it but it feels like there's less room.
b) Geralt is relatable but based on the games he's not the sort of personality I really want to read novels and novels about. I'm aware the game is based on the books. But Geralt clearly doesn't really want to be IN the world he's in. Same with the supporting cast.
c) The ending is very, very final.
d) Wandering around is kind of a lonely experience and somehow it feels there iisn't THAT much interaction with allies or finding out where they're coming from.
e) The game's given me more than I can handle already. Too much!

Whereas. Well. Looking at the fanfic bookmarks I can see the following characteristics that make a fandom good for writing:
a) Loads and loads of characters of protagonist-of-another-story caliber. Many of whom we actually like. And interactions with them.
b) Juicy what-if implications
c) I like space and sci fi and stuff. And magic. And space magic. All over the place. Yep.

d) Leaves fans craving more: Big dangling unresolved plot point / vague and unsatisfying ending / etc

And if any game ending left me unsatisfied, it was Mass Effect 3.

Anyways the first two chapters of Variations on a Theme with Tank and Gunfire touch brilliantly on the fourth wall and the video game experience because of the time-travel component.
Her memories from the first time are still the sharpest. She knows there are some little things that are different every time: casual conversations, inconsequential interactions.
And the other 21 chapters? They're pretty excellent too and address things like
- Why is there only ever one squad on the ground?
- Why is there no Mako in ME3?
- How could characters X and Y both survive?
- Why does everyone and their mother have an excuse for not rejoining the crew, even at the very end?
- What is up with the Starchild?

Admittedly none of it is as good as the first two chapters but, well, that was a really high bar. More importantly, the ending of the fic brings back the team building aspect that was missing from the third game (assembled a team? learned to delegate? nope, you're gonna face the end sequences by yourself!) and if Shepard's plots are execute a bit too smoothly, and the ending is too happy... no. A dozen iterations later, I'm OK with the way the plans were carried out and the fluffiness of the final ending. I always knew that original ending choices were bullshit. This fic fixes everything and makes it all better. It's one of my favourites of all time. On the unwritten Top 5 list, for sure. It just makes me so happy when I read it.

Variations on a Theme, with Tank and Gunfire
duinemerwen: (garrus)
2016.10.29 03:42 - Portal 2 - impressions
I was a bit taken aback when I played Portal 2, because I realized I'd been unintentionally referencing it before I'd even played it. See, I call Justin "fatty" and "potato" fairly frequently (5%, 70%, respectively, probabily) and both terms feature fairly prominently in Portal 2.

Moving on...

Portal 2 has some new mechanics, some of which are fun (mobility/repulsion/adhesion gels that allow you to change the properties of surfaces, and those things that fling you across the room and splatter you on the opposite wall!) and some of which are alright (light bridges, those lasers, and the excursion funnels are alright, I guess but not as FUN as making yourself a runway with goo and flying across the room). In fact the excursion funnels really slowed things down. One of my favourite things in Portal games is to build up momentum by going really, really fast and then apply it to FLIGHT. Whereas the excursion funnels are really, really slow.

Unfortunately Portal also has some rubbish bits. Like the "exploration" sections at the bottom of the pit where you squint at a wall looking for the beige-coloured panels. I don't know what's up with the texture on some of the stone surfaces but they rendered a bit like disco balls on my machine.

They did a good job. I think Portal 2 was a particularly good use of the game medium. At some point, you are asked to speak by pressing space. The spacebar makes you jump. Heh. The third set of chambers are badly designed in a convincing way. Anyways Portal 2 has a real story concerning the circumstances of Aperture Science's demise, what's up with the new robot companion, and why the facility robots are obsessed with science. The science robots have good dialogue. I thought that the final boss fight was a lot easier than the one from the original Portal and much more satisfying, and that the final move de resistance was really perfect. Then, I actually gasped when GLADOS deleted a certain part of her programming. Chell's fate is, again, unclear but probably happier than what happened in between games. Maybe.

Is it better than the original Portal?
There wasn't much to the original Portal so this question is like asking "is Skyrim a better game than tetris." I had a few minor problems with Portal. Firstly, that the boss fight was kind of hard the first time I played it, but on the other hand that was in 2011 and I'd only really played the Harry Potter games, Sims 3, and Neopets games at that point, so a puzzle FPS was clearly a step up. The second was that the ending is kind of unsatisfying. Chell is dragged off to a fate unknown before awakening in the sequel. Cue credits. Bleh.

But yes, if we're going with this metaphor, Skyrim is more fun than Tetris.

Also, the multiplayer campaign is a lot of fun too. I think more fun than single-player, though not really replayable. I remember laughing because my partner robot kept smashing himself into a wall/ceiling, falling into the acid, or maybe because I accidentally/purposefully dropped him in there by relocating the excursion funnel early. I thought the conclusion to the multiplayer campaign was quite clever too. A bonding experience like duct tape and glue.

There's so much internal history... I wish there had been some depository for this besides a dude's website that hasn't been updated in 5 years but. There isn't. IDK how the Algonquin remix is still floating around but it's still there, somehow.
duinemerwen: (that's not how the force works)
2016.10.03 00:22 - Portal 2
On Friday night I climbed a tree to place the cache. As I fumbled in the dark for my Cache Attachment Device (string) and the Cache Attachment Device Length Adjuster (knife) the wind started blowing and the tree started swaying. Well I wasn't even that far up (maybe 4-5m) but I had a difficult time tying off the CAD. My legs didn't stop shaking until I was home.

And then on Saturday, I bought Portal 2. It's fun but I'm kind of incompetent. I'm pretty sure it feels a bit like an escort mission to Justin. I'm also thinking about Divinity: Original Sin, but I'm a little bit wary of the turn-based combat.

Today, I thought of some midterm questions. I worked a cat and a cat bridge into one of them. Sami likes the cat question but he needs to review the other ones too. My mission is complete.

And still, my cache still hasn't been approved by volunteer reviewers. I'm pretty proud of this one. 
duinemerwen: (Ampersand)
2016.09.30 01:14 - What do, part 87
Small updates.
- The WItcher 3 Hearts of Stone was amazing. I'll write about it more later after Blood and Wine... but, wow.
- There's a PHD student who keeps asking me questions about the assignment 1 of the stats course I TA and because he knows where my desk is it's hard to get rid of him. I don't know WTF is his problem, he and this other dude keep asking the simplest questions even though I've clarified on the course website.
- Manisha messaged me again, and it's no easier now to think of what to say, IDK, this is way above my pay grade
- Nearly finished the cache puzzle I've been preparing...I love geopotato, but it's hard for him to find non-spoilery screenshots. So I composed the puzzle using only the season I've watched. Hopefully I can place the cache this weekend, though it's been unpleasantly... moist... of late.
- Three words: Structural equation modeling.
duinemerwen: (garrus)
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