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My Inaugural Post, Or, Why I Game.

photo-1486572788966-cfd3df1f5b42Hello my Friendlies, Guardians, Spartans, Inquisitors, Heroes, and the like. It’s my inaugural blog post here at Daffodil Gamer, and I wanted to start by delving in deep to why I game. I plan to use this blog as a place to catalog and explore all of the things I love about the gaming medium, and the very unique way it allows storytellers and audiences to come together; especially today, when that relationship often evolves in real time with DLC, hotfixs, exploits and the gamer community’s feedback having a direct impact on what developers offer us and when.

So why do I game? Games are something I grew up around. With a father who was a computer engineer, I believe he looked into games and saw the future. My teeth were cut on a square NES controller in his lap as he played the O.G. Zelda. It was dangerous to go alone, so he took me. I waited in extreme anticipation to see the princess at the end of the game. “Dad! Have we found the princess yet?!” I was always on the look out for pretty princesses to look up to, and soon Princess Peach came into my life. One of my earliest memories was when I finally got to play as Ms. Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2. Representation matters guys, especially to 4 year olds.

And I realized at that very moment that girls can play too.

Princesses kicking butt has always been a hallmark of a great game or film (I’m looking at you Star Wars).

I’m still waiting to play as Zelda, but I digress…

But then.

But then, my life pivoted and my dad died, and soon games became a way to feel close to a father I could no longer tangibly connect. Holding a controller often felt like holding his hand, and I knew without a doubt, each game I played, each game I still play, “Man, Dad would love this.”

And so the super nintendo came and went, the N64, and my horizons of gaming expanded, but then, oh then, I discovered the RPG.

Final Fantasy you guys. Title that got me through my angsty tween and teenage years. Nobody understood me like Squall and Cloud.

And Nobody was as badass as Sephiroth (and lets face it, he still holds the ultimate baddie title and always will). And admit it, you cried when Aerith died.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

But really, those years were hard. My mom and I moved, a lot. I didn’t have many friends, and I was a little girl, growing up without a father in a nasty world. There was an incredible amount of bullying in middle school and a deep loneliness in high school. Bullying before it was a buzzword, cyberbullying before we even knew what it was. There were some incredibly low points in high school when the only thing keeping me going was the story.

While I’ve always loved books, when RPGs had my heart, let face it, they basically were books. Everything needed to be read on screen, no voice cast, no dubbing, just me and the text. And one thing Final Fantasy knew was story. Outcasts facing incredible odds, often at odds with themselves. There were characters who believed and followed blindly in the lies the big bad’s were selling, sympathetic bullies, other’s found themselves so overwhelmingly angry, or apathetic, or both reluctant heroes. And I related. When everything else in my world was crumbling, when I was alone and afraid and missing my Dad, when I had just been called horrible names online, when I really saw no way forward, no future, I could always play the next chapter, and realize the hero always wins. Maybe not in the way we think it ought to be, maybe at great cost, but they prevail. Sephiroth fails, Cloud is victorious, even if he lost Aerith in the process, even if things were irrevocably changed. Even if Nanaki lost his whole family. Games showed me I could be okay even if.

And so in a time of great hopelessness games gave me hope.

But can we stop here for a minute? Lets just step back for two seconds. Pause. Breathe. You see dear friendlies, I was alone a lot during this period not because I chose to be, I didn’t play alone because I didn’t want company and I didn’t miss the heyday of Halo: Combat Evolved because I was too busy with FF over on my PSX. Nope. I flat out wasn’t invited. Peach taught me girls could play too, but high school taught me I wasn’t allowed. When it was known that I was gamer, I couldn’t possibly be a “real” one, or “any good” I would be insta quizzed on my knowledge and asked to provide a verbal resume. But be careful! Because it’s dangerous to know too much, lest the poor lads feel threatened. Or sometimes I just wasn’t included because who would want a girl at a LAN party? Sentiments I’ve still heard repeated as a woman in her (yikes) 30’s. “This is a mans world, where the manly men come to escape from the oppressive ovaries, who would want  their woman here?” I like to think that times are changing, and I do think progress has been made as we women shatter the PVP glass ceiling, but we aren’t there yet.

But now I shall step off of my small feminist pedestal lest I alienate most of my intended readership and I shall continue…

Because one day I met a boy. And when I told him I was a gamer, I wasn’t met with a quiz, I was just asked which ones. And like true geeks, we ran over to his TV and he showed me all of his games. Which yes if you were wondering, was incredibly sexy. Then I showed him mine. And of course at that point marriage was guaranteed. Quick! To the Altar! And we pledged ourselves to love honor and game for the rest of our lives.

And this wonderful man led my into what I like to call Chapter three of Daffodil’s gaming history: The time in which she was taught the awesomeness that is the first person shooter and how to properly play. 

This my dear friendlies happened at the launch of HALO 3. We went to a midnight release, and since the hubs and I had no children at the time that meant we gamed all night, and into the sweet, sweet morning. I’m thinking we went to bed around noon that next day and it was glorious. And who needed LAN parties anymore because XBOX live was being perfected. PVP became my bread and butter and learning to navigate through a first person shooter was a great thrill. It did actually take work and practice after years of RPGs and third person story telling, but by the end I was just as big of a sucker for Sierra-117 as the next person, maybe more, because remember that book thing? Yeah I read all those halo books too (and Dragon Age. And seriously Bungie, hire a writer and write some Destiny books, inquiring minds want to read.) But really some of my best memories are of my husband yelling at me no to stop accidentally killing him because (friendly fire) as I *accidentally* energy sworded him… Because that’s love.

And really, to me that is love. Because if we can get real again for a minute, life takes you up and down, and if I am measuring my life by game launches then right around Halo 4, my life crumbled again. The hubs and I hit a rough patch. And I mean ROUGH. There were times where we weren’t sure we would make it. Divorce was a word that was spoken a lot. We went into counseling, and he got help for a pornography addiction as we worked through an affair. Things that devastate marriages were going nuclear on my own. My days were filled with caring for a newborn and a 2 year old, while finding my way through the complete cluster&@#$ of a dissolving marriage and millions of appointments. Counseling, therapy, church, mentors, so many marriage books, so much talking. We would talk things through until we were out of words, and our mouths were dry, and our tears were spent, and there was nothing left to say, but still so much left to resolve.

And what do you do in those moments? When the air is thick with heartache and your are just there? When the hurt permeates so thoroughly that being in the same room hurts? But also the love? When you are choosing to both work it out. To fight for each other, and fight for love? How do you survive it? How do you survive what the world has deemed unsurvivable.

My Friendlies, you game. Because now that there has been healing, and now that there has been resolution and now that we have made our way out of that quagmire together and have come out stronger for it, looking back, what I realized, is we gamed together. Always.

We would put all of the crap on hold, and we would each grab a controller, and we would sit down and let the Master Chief take us on an adventure. We followed him and Cortana through deep frozen space on the Forward Unto Dawn as we unraveled Promethean tech and what it meant to be a Spartan. what it meant to be human.

They were supposed to take care of each other, and so were we.

When we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, we sat on the couch together and we co-oped. When there were no words left we played PVP, red vs. blue and we could laugh with each other at our own epic fails because the tears had all been cried. Because even when things were falling apart, underneath the horribleness of it all, we were still best friends, and we were still gamers, and the games that had brought us together, were helping us hold onto that tiny thread.

Because couples that game together, stay together.

All of this of brings us up to the original launch of Destiny, when the Hubs got me my very own PS4 for our anniversary so we could play online together since split screen… well RIP split screen.  I still love RPGS, my favorite game of all time is probably Dragon Age: Inquisition. Sheer, unadulterated story is still my favorite thing and always will be. Stories help us define and make sense of our own lives.

And so now, after years of Destiny together, another kid in the mix, and my husband and the awesome Destiny clan he runs, I find myself at the launch of Destiny 2 wanting to share my journey as a gamer, a woman, a wife and mother through the gaming world. I won’t have breaking news here, there are so many people who do that better, I wont have cutting edge reviews or loot exploits. This won’t be a first in the know sort of blog, but rather a thoughtful look into the world of gaming that we all share in. What I think works, what doesn’t work, with  bit of depths and hopefully some levity.

And that’s what I think makes gaming so powerful, the ability for the audience to interact with not only the storytellers, but with each other, and in meaningful ways. I may have a give away here and there, and for sure I will be linking to my Husband’s clan  occasionally. So thanks for reading! Check back for updates, and if you so desire let me know in the comments which games coincide with your life’s major plot points.

 

XOXO,

The Daffodil Gamer

 

 

 

 

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Destiny 2 The Forsaken. Lore is back; Or Why I’m Playing Again.

I haven’t picked up Destiny 2 in about a year (audible gasp!). Truly, I haven’t picked up much of any game this past year, which is why the blog has been dead, with the exception of my comfort game; Dragon Age Inquisition.

Because when life gets hard, romance Solas, so you can feel better (worse) about how things are going. And when life gets really hard learn to mod so your Inquisitor can have beautiful hair and armor (but that’s another post).

I’m a glutton for pain.

But as I said, life has been hectic, and I have been sad.

I worked briefly at Gamestop. Which was fun and stressful. Mostly because my kids are little and leaving them was, well, hard and stressful. But it left little time to actually play games, despite, you know, selling them.

To be honest though, Destiny 2 ruined me. I was extra disenfranchised. I played D1 from day 1. My husband and I built a still thriving clan with amazing people, and we played the hell out of that game. I loved the hidden lore and had the complete grimoire on my phone. I could quote you lore from the Books Of Sorrow and I could wax poetic about the proto-hive fundament and the moral and ethical implications of the Travelers role in the creation of said Hive. Also worm gods.

I did pick up each year one Destiny 2 DLC and would play it to completion. Which took 45 minutes. But lore was missing, the grind I so loved was missing, and so were my favorite weapons.

I was excited when Xol showed up in Warmind, and my interest was definitely piqued when we learned Ana Bray had reclaimed her forgotten identity. Because that’s always been a lingering question, who the hell ARE our guardians? Turns out Zavala has just forbidden them from finding out.

There was some semblance of story fabric being woven together.

Haphazardly of course because this is still Destiny after all.

But there were still a lot of dropped narrative threads and I was cynical. I missed the Awoken and Fallen. The House of Wolves was my favorite DLC. We had zero answers about what happened after fighting Oryx. Where did the Reef go? Is everyone dead? Who is the stranger. What happened during the Collapse? Why are Exos reset?

It really seemed, for the last year, Bungie was happy to move forward without so much as a glance back to what they had started.

But guys, The Forsaken is here and Lore is back!

And if there was any doubt about Destiny recommitting itself to the narrative they started four years ago, they began the whole thing with the shot heard round the Destiny Community; killing off arguably their most important and well loved character.

RIP Cayde-6

But they didn’t just kill him off. Nope. They fleshed out his whole tragic back story with collectible LORE (please please please, complete the Ace of Spade exotic quest. Just do it. It’s worth it). That you can read in game! Which ALSO ties into the tragedy that is the Exos (go lore hunting for exos. It’s incredibly sad).

Bungie offered us something they haven’t given us before. Closure. They did it right this time.

But aside from the closure they set up new conflict and new tension (Im looking at your Zavala, and your Guardian personality squashing jerky blue head).

As usual the campaign is incredibly straight forward, short and to the point. And leaves more questions than it answers. I’m used to that with Destiny. However, unlike this past year, and the miserable Red War, and the scraps they fed us with Osiris and Warmind, well, now I can go grind for answers, collect lore and amor sets, and feel a need to play the raid.

Yep, still haven’t completed the Leviathan. Because: stakes, there weren’t any.

Now there are and I’m ready to take down a creepy alien genie dragon of some sort.

Because Bungie introduced something they haven’t before. Personal stakes. Our Guardians have a literal voice now, they’ve had to make tough decisions. NPCs have developed personal feelings about actions taken, and it feels like, for the first time, things we do in game, have an affect of the world. A world we get to learn about.

So Long story short, I’ve picked up the game and have been playing like it’s 2014 all over again.

It’s good to be back.

Drop me a comment. How is your grind going? How is the story so far? Are you as excited as me to delve back in to the hidden world of Destiny?

A Day Late and a Buck Short to Destiny 2

Dear Friendlies, I must confess to you; a grievous Destiny sin bearing great shame; I am late to the Destiny 2 game. I fact I’ve only hopped on a handful of times and haven’t really invested much time beyond the games introduction.  

And here is why; caughtdaffodil’s very own personal D2 pity party. Which I’ll get into in a minute. 

But I am finally reliably playing Destiny 2 now though, and I have some thoughts (read: rant) to get off my chest before I can continue my glorious quest to level 20 and whatever max light level is the cap of the week. 

As I said, I was not an early adopter this go round, mostly because we were in the middle of a cross country move, but I was able to watch the Hubs play a bit during it’s launch week. He wasn’t about to let a move and a week long stay with friends and another two week long wait without actual furniture, prohibit his mad dash to level 20 before the raid dropped. After all, we all know in Destiny, the raid is everything and the sweet, sweet loot that proves our raid supremacy (or supremacy in supremacy for those of us who PVP), is what Destiny has become all about.

Which is all fine and good, but as I said in my inaugural post, I’m super motivated to play by story driven games, and I didn’t feel, after loads of narrative let downs, that Destiny was ready to pay off on any of its storytelling set ups.

As in, is the Speaker, who he says he is?

What is this mysterious Darkness?

Why Are All Of These Nouns Capitalized.

Are the Hive the Darkness?

Is the Travelor really a benevolent force of good or a total jack ass for bringing the Darkness to humanity?

How did humanity actually collapse?

What are Awoken really?

Is the Queen seriously dead?

Most pressingly, DOES MY GUARDIAN HAVE AN ACTUAL PERSONALITY?

Here is a picture of my Guardian steeped in skepticism that this story will actually pick up. If my Guardian doesn’t seem to have any real vested personal interest in the happenings of post Apocalyptic Collapsed Earth, how can I.
And I guess that’s my issue. The world of Destiny talks at you. The story unfolds, but you aren’t a real part of it. You have no way to reply or make decisions, ask questions. Every bit of participation in the story is done through your Ghost, who lets face it, isn’t really the life of the party either (his personality needs a res code). Even where Destiny wins, in it’s continued development of it’s non-player characters like Cayde-6 and Zavala, it loses because you can’t actually interact with them in a meaningful way. At least one dialogue tree would be nice, or you know, words. But Guardians can’t speak. Apparently you are resurrected by your Ghost completely mute, even if the sexy Nathan Fillion Guardian get’s all of the funny lines, (Cayde begged us Hunter’s to take him with us in the first Destiny, by the time all of the DLC was through, and we watched the beta cinematics, I think it’s safe to say everyone in the Destiny community wanted to.)

But even Cayde-6, the winningest personality in the game, only interacts with your player character’s Ghost. Ghosty gets all of the lines. every single one. In the original game our Guardian’s had a few lines of dialogue in the beginning, and it served well to help us feel immersed, at least initially, even if the story was lacking one, or several, plot points.

I understand the logic behind this creative decision, which it had to be. I’m sure they could have budgeted a male and female voice actor. Bungie made a similar choice with Master Chief in not showing his face. They wan’t their audience to feel like they are their character, and I get it, but putting space in the narrative like that only serves to actually do the opposite. It alienates us from the story. By not allowing us to see our Guardian personally interact with their world, how can we feel the stakes? And stakes my friendlies are what narratives are made of. Stakes make us feel the emotional investment and impact of the story.

Sure, the stakes are high for the world when the Cabal plunder The City, but personally? I just don’t know. Probably because again, my Guardian somehow forgot how to speak. Even when the Big Baddie welcomes us, “to a world without light.” We just sit there clinging to our Ghosts. No reply, no screams. My Guardian makes more pained sounds when she jumps too far.

But it isn’t for lack of dialogue either, Ol’ Ghosty speaks tons of dialogue on behalf of my Guardian, they could easily have broken that up and given our Guardians a few measly scraps of speech. But no.

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*Puzzled face* “But wait…What R Werds?!” 
So it isn’t to say that Destiny misses the dialogue and narrative train completely, it’s just that I feel left out of the story. Even when Zavala wants to assemble (the Avengers) his fireteam, all of the cool parts of the story seem to happen off screen. I want to go with Cayde-6 on his short date with the Cabal, I want to go on Ikora’s vengeance ship hopping killing spree, I want to see how Zavala escapes complete destruction. I want to see the moment he loses his light, because I am invested in him emotionally.

It reminds me of my earliest writing professors hitting us student’s over the head with rote recitations of, “show don’t tell.” and “always cut the introduction, skip right to the action.”

Instead Destiny tells us the action while we are off looting random chests not talking to people, and when we finally catch up with everyone, we never get to ask, “Hey! What the hell happened to you?”

Which I guess is fitting, because you can really sum up the Destiny story in those four words: what the hell happened?

So it’s been a few weeks, because I was really hoping Bungie would have taken some of the feed back and made a story for the campaign we could feel a part of. Wasn’t that the issue of the first one? The story was so thin and it happened around us, not to us?

But that’s not what Destiny is. And I get that. Because what it does do well, it does wickedly well.

Loot? Yes!

Co-op? Umm super yes!

End game content? That’s where the real game is!

Bragging rights through gear? Totes.

And Clans? Clan rewards? So awesome.

It’s the most seamless first person shooter I’ve ever played, it’s intuitive and beautiful to look at. The environments are fully realized, and there is not much more satisfying in the gaming world than a head shot with an exotic hand cannon that everyone else wants.

Like the sweet, sweet Hawkmoon or Thorn two years ago. The day my first Hawkmoon dropped is a day I won’t soon forget.

So, Its taken me awhile after playing the beta to really dive in. The grinding, which I never complained about, without a significant change in storytelling, has felt like a serious grind this time. And while I have an awesome clan, (who is raiding as we speak) end game content hasn’t been a huge draw for me personally. I’m wanting answers and coming to terms with not having them.

But that’s life right? Learning to appreciate things for what they are and not getting bogged down in expectation.

So I’ve picked up my controller, tried my hand at some 4v4 PVP, played a few more missions, and am finally pining a bit, for a cool new cloak, which means I’ll need to hit the end game soon to get one.

Because Hunter’s are the master class and everyone knows it.

So, here is to a few more years of Destiny! It’s become a verb in our house, “to destiny: what the parentals do when the kidlets are tucked into bed. i.e. “Do you want to Destiny tonight?”

“Hells yeah I do!”

*Sigh* Thats why we have head cannon. 

Let me know in the comments your thoughts if you feel so inclined. Does Destiny 2 hold up without a story, does the awesomeness that is the rest of the game justify it’s thin narrative? Does it also drive you mad that your Guardian can’t speak? Does it matter?

Now it’s off to the Destiny grind to level up my measly lvl 5 Hunter.

Until next time!

XOXO,

Daffodil Gamer

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