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I'm going to try really hard to pick this back up again and resume blogging. Falling out of almost all of the fandoms I was once involved in has kind of left me with little to yammer relentlessly on. Because of that, I'll probably be taking mostly about video games.

I'll start this with a rundown on the new Bioware game, Dragon Age 2. It was a game I waited for with bated breath, because I loved Dragon Age: Origins so much. I wish I could say that the sequel was every bit the rich and highly addictive experience as the original, but I'm sad to say that it fell a bit flat.

The good stuff:

I'll start with the things I liked about this game. For one, the main character speaks and each choice is marked with an aggressive, peaceful or humorous indicator. This solves the issue from the first game, where you couldn't be entirely sure how your remarks would have been received by NPCs. It enables you to play your character in a consistent manner.

The writing, I thought was rather good. The story is compelling, the characters are likable and there are a few plot twists thrown in for good measure. I really enjoy a story that is somewhat unpredictable, and Dragon Age 2 managed to keep me guessing.

The game is also very gay/lesbian/bi friendly, as you can initiate a relationship with any of the playable characters regardless of gender. There are a variety of male and female archetypes to choose from, so there is someone for just about any taste. Naturally, this has annoyed a couple of macho male gamers, but someone from Bioware essentially told them to get over it. As you may recall, the guy/guy love scene from Origins caused quite the stir (no one objected to the girl/girl scene, because lesbians are obviously hot, while gay guys are zomgcooties) when the clip first appeared on YouTube. This game has more delicious boylove, if you choose to go down that path. If you don't swing that way, just don't click the hearts in the dialogue with dudes and your heterosexuality will go unquestioned. :)

The disappointing stuff:

As I said above, there was a lot about this game that just didn't do it for me. My number one complaint is the extremely limited number of environments. There is one city, one cave, one beach, one forest and the Deeproads. That is basically it. Every location uses one of these maps. It gets extremely tedious after a while, to be wandering around in generic cave #47, going down the same paths as before. I found that near the end, there was no longer any drive to explore every nook and cranny, because I'd already explored the map twenty times before. The recycling was so obvious, because whenever there was a part of the cave map they didn't want you in, they just put up a door you couldn't open.

The one unforgivable sin was the use of the Deeproads environment for what was supposed to be a cave. No. The Deeproads is a special place with tons of lore tied into it. The Deeproads was amazing in the first game, and creepy! I raged so hard when the map popped up in a scenario that had nothing to do with the Deeproads. Not cool.

Being stuck in Kirkwall the entire time got boring. This would have been less annoying if they'd taken care of the dungeon maps problem, but meh, there was really no sense of grand adventure.

Unlike the first game, where you had a wide variety of races and backgrounds you could play as, you get to play one character: Hawke. You got to choose the gender and class of the character, but that was it. I understand that multiple backgrounds would have involved a ton more voice recording work, but that would have been possible had they been willing to spend more time developing this.

While your character's choices are far more clear, you have far less effect on the outcome of the game. In fact, you have no control over the outcome. No matter what you do, there is one chain of events that will take place. If you go back and try to change things that lead up to the event, it will still turn out the same way.

Summary:

I enjoyed the game for the story, but it has very little replay value. I even started modding my save files to try and pique my interest for a second play through, but I'm barely through the first act with little urge to move on. I am sure they will come out with downloadable content (for a price, always for a price) that may try to correct some of the shortfalls, but why should I pay more for a game that wasn't as good as the first one? Overall, I'd give it a C+. Buy it if you liked the first one.

Spoiler Rant )
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We spent about 6 days in PA. My mother-in-law wanted to throw us a reception in Eric's hometown for all the folks who weren't able to make it out to IL for the actual wedding. I took almost no part in the planning of this, which was refreshing to say the least.

Since it was a party with the in-laws, I did the most sensible thing I could: I got drunk. I strategically chose gin and tonic as my weapon of choice. They have enough water content to avoid next day hangovers.

But the funniest thing about this shindig is the way my parents handle their liquor. At every event with an open bar, my dad does the same thing every time. He orders two bloody mary's right off the bat and drinks them. That way, he is sober by the end of the party. My mom, on the other hand, would typically make a show of how she doesn't drink, because drinking is against the beliefs of her church. She even signed a statement when she joined, promising not to drink, smoke or do whatever else they find offensive.

Dad had also signed whatever that was they needed to in order to gain official membership to their whack-job denomination, but he's been ignoring all that for years.

But that night, Mom also decided to throw caution, and her nutty church to the wind, and ordered a glass of Bailey's on the rocks. And another....and another....and another.... until my mom was certifiably hammered.

Now Mom had been dabbling in the art of drinking for about a year or so now. She had a pint of Guiness on St Pat's day and a glass of Bailey's at Thanksgiving, but this is the first time I've seen her actually intoxicated and it's funny as hell. She is a chatty drunk and was going around showing people she'd just met pictures of her grandchildren.

Mom and Dad also spent like half their time on the dance floor which is like WTFBBQ. The next day, Dad informed me that Mom was up until 3:30 AM because she couldn't sleep. Boozing probably isn't the best thing for her, health-wise.

But I was really glad to see her discard her church's wacky dogma long enough to have fun.
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Crossposted from Failbook...

There is this pervasive belief in news media that all stories, no matter what the topic, have two viewpoints--no more, no less.

This is fallacious, because the world is NOT a black and white place. You have as many viewpoints as you have people and you know what they say, opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. So if we have a topic like, say, global warming, there is going to be a wide spectrum of viewpoints on this issue. Cutting it down to two is hardly fair and balanced.

But to stay on the example of global warming, not every opinion is worthwhile. When you have a topic that is purely scientific, it's not worthwhile to drag out some moron who feels that global warming is a myth, because he felt that this winter was "pretty cold." A scientist has facts, studies and data. The idiot on the "other side" has anecdotes and little else.

Personal anecdotes are not admissible in court or in peer-reviewed science journals. Why should they be admissible in news media, which is supposed to be bringing us factual information? Ratings are more important than integrity.

To go on about my distaste of the mainstream media, I read an article detailing the results of a long-term, 20-year study following the lives of a number of lesbian parents and their offspring. The objective was to determine if having two same-sex parents are detrimental to the development of children. The children were interviewed at regular intervals, and the kids were shown to be happier than the kids in the control group. It was hypothesized that because lesbian parents are incapable of accidental pregnancy, tend to be older when they conceive, and have to put forth so much effort to have kids, that they are more attentive and smarter parents than average. These are reasonable conclusions derived from solid data, obtained in line with the Scientific Method.

The article would have been lovely, except then they started quoting some extremist nutjob, doing her best to discredit the study, by attacking the funding and citing the Naturalistic Fallacy. Her arguments were completely anecdotal and based on nothing but her own outdated wordview and prejudices. But, CNN obviously thought their article would appear too one-sided if they didn't "give a voice to the other side." Sometimes the "other side" shouldn't have a voice. We don't give the point of view of the local KKK whenever an African American person is in the news, so why should we have an undereducated non-scientist involved in an article on a scientific study? Why not bring in two scientists? I guess the scientists would probably agree with each other, and it wouldn't result in the screaming match that brings in the ratings.
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I just deleted my LJ. I don't think I'll be posting here as much as I used to on LJ, but it serves the purpose of having a personal soapbox without a fullscreen ad every time my login times out.

I had been a LJ user since 2002, towards the end of the time when they still required invites. I became a paid user shortly after, so I've invested a good bit of money and time in journaling there. I thought about saving some of the old content, but I realized that what I wrote about in the past is mostly irrelevant to me as a person right now. Some of those old entries are cringe-inducing, and I'd rather focus on the present. I've never been a big sentimentalist.

Anyways, life is keeping me busy. I got a nice raise at work and my husband and I are in the process of closing on a house. I'm also going to PA to visit the inlaws in two weeks, then first week of July is CONvergence.

CONvergence thrills the hell out of me. I didn't get to go last year, and thus, missed the first annual Skepchick party. But even better.... Skeptical Events! We definitely needed some science and rationality to balance out the ghost-hunting, paranormal, crystal-waving, ufo-humping woo-woo batshit crazy (technical terms). I'm STOKED!

That's all for now. Peace out.

First Post

Jun. 2nd, 2010 09:17 pm
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First post.

Here's hoping for a better experience on a smaller journalling site.

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