Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Electronic Entertainment Expo

I'm going to E3 next week for the first time. I'm pretty excited about it, though I'm not really sure what to expect. Obviously I'm looking forward to learning about the new Nintendo console. There's apparently going to be some new stuff on Star Wars: the Old Republic, which is a game that I'm pretty excited about (though I do think a Mass Effect MMO would be far more exciting). Also CD Projekt Red (Polish developer of Witcher, a dark RPG I quite enjoyed though sadly never finished) is going to be announcing a new project, which should be interesting. And then there's Bioshock Infinite.

Other than that I'm not sure what to be looking at/looking out for. If you want to, take a look at this exhibitor list and let me know if there's anything you think I should check out. Maybe I'll take my laptop with me and try to do some posts in the evenings, but I'm not going to be approaching this as a blogger primarily - this is as much about work and making connections (that dreaded "networking" thing) as it is anything else.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

DA:O Women in the Grey Wardens

Alistair says "... it just occurred to me that there have never been many women in the Grey Wardens. I wonder why that is?"

Am I bad for being tempted to respond with: "You want more women in the Wardens, do you?" or "Probably because we're too smart for you." >.>

The thing is, I can't tell whether he's asking an honest question or not. irl this question would either earn him a shrug from me or a very very long rant, depending on my mood and how much time I had.

This time I think I'll choose "How about you stop thinking of me as a woman?"

After all, my character is a super awesome super powerful mage. And that's why the Grey Wardens recruited her. Right?

Star Wars: The Old Republic | Trailers

Star Wars: The Old Republic | Trailers

The Trooper looks pretty cool (especially Vanguard, that PBAoE looks pretty sick) but not cool enough to tempt me away from the Empire...

Sith Inquisitor, need I say more?

Dragon Age: Origins

In general, I would consider myself a big fan of BioWare. I've played both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 through multiple playthroughs, as well as the DLC. I love RPGs where players make choices that affect the story and gameplay. They remind me of some of the old Black Isle games and other amazing US computer RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment and Fallout 1 and 2.

However, I've had trouble getting into Dragon Age: Origins. Somehow the choices leave me feeling railroaded rather than involved in the story, pulling me away from relating to my character. Initially for my first playthrough, I made a half-elf rogue, intending to play her as a sort of shades of gray hard-ass but ultimately well-intentioned character (much like my FemShep on my first playthroughs of both ME1 and ME2). Every time I came to a choice, I didn't see an option that matched my character concept, and the way the text was written didn't match my image either. It seemed like my choices were either "total jerk" or "insufferable suck-up", neither of which appealed. I abandoned the game for a long while (over a year!).

So now I'm picking it up again, hoping to give it another chance. This time around I'm playing a high elf mage, we'll see how it goes.

One thing I've noticed so far (I'm playing the Xbox 360 version) is that even though I have subtitles turned on, most of the subtitles don't appear when NPCs are talking, only the tail end appears several seconds after they're finished talking. Minor quibble but still slightly annoying.  (Oh, I take it back, starting a new game reset my settings and I had to turn subtitles back on.)

To be continued...

What it is (or who I am)

Why "Quality Snark"?
The idea came out of a discussion with a friend of mine - I was, as usual, ranting about some foolish game design choices made by a certain developer and he sort of flippantly referred to it as "quality snark" - as I work in video games quality assurance, you can imagine that I have a lot to snark video games about when it comes to quality!

Wait, you work in video games?
Yes, and I can't talk about work. Really. Also, I probably won't help you find a job. In fact, if you think you might want to work in video games, I direct you to watch the following video. A lot.
  (Obviously, watching this video numerous times hasn't helped me, because I still want to work in video games. But I still recommend that you think very seriously about it because it really is hard work, oftentimes unrewarding with low pay and long hours. But sometimes it's worth the trade off to be doing what you love. At least for me.)

But you're a girl!
Really? I'm shocked to hear that. >.>
Yes, I'm probably going to talk about girl stuff here too. But maybe not what you're thinking of as girl stuff. I have done a fair bit of reading and thinking on the internet and elsewhere about issues of privilege, oppression, sexism and other isms, and I will definitely touch on these things here. This is my soap box and I will stand on it as much as I want to! That said, I'm pretty sure I'll talk about other things too.
It may not be a soap box but it is a box. And it's from a video game.

Like what?
Well, part of the reason I'm doing this is so that I'll stop spamming my friends on twitter* and Facebook* with my constant updates about the games I'm playing. Instead I'll spam it here! I like to share thoughts I have about design issues, themes, story, gameplay and interface design while I'm playing, as well as accomplishments and insights.
*note: while I will add anyone on FB, my twitter is pretty much restricted to people I know and like.

What you're not likely to read here
I don't really do reviews, cheats or walkthroughs. I will give opinions, insights and tips, but nothing so structured as a review or walkthrough.  And, as I mentioned above, I won't talk about work - not only did I sign an NDA which means I can't talk about any titles I'm working on or give any other work related details, but I have plenty of people to talk to about work. This is a place for more general thoughts about the games I'm playing for fun.

Just Video Games?
First, I think we have to agree on what our definition is for video games, for which purpose I refer you to the Wikipedia entry. Basically, all sorts of electronic entertainments are video games, for my purposes. I own an Xbox 360 plus Kinect, a desktop PC (currently running Windows 7) which I use for both PC games and web based games, a Kindle (yes, it has games on it) and an Android phone (T-Mobile G2). I will probably talk about some techy type stuff that's not directly related to video games in some cases - I'm a big fan of open source development (yay, another soap box!) and the Android OS, so I may touch on issues related to those in some instances. I'm also a big Japanophile with a B.A. in Japanese and I lived for nearly a year in Japan, so I may occasionally reference issues related to Japan and Japanese pop culture (horror, anime and manga, in addition to video games).