My First Dungeons & Dragons Adventure

My first session of Dungeons and Dragons occurred in early 2015. To be honest, I wanted to try DnD for a long time before then, but it kept getting put off. That was mostly because I didn’t know anyone who currently played the game, and I was pretty nervous about interacting with people I didn’t know, especially when I had no idea how to play.

Thankfully, all but two of six members of our group had never played the game before. I was far from being alone in the awkward moments where I needed to figure out how to respond to a situation, or when I forgot what my damage roll was for the umpteenth time. But, it was a learning experience I will never forget, and so I am here to share that adventure with you today.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with DnD, it’s an older tabletop role-playing game that’s less about accomplishing a goal than telling an exciting story. I believe the game initially started in the Forgotten Realms universe, but those experienced and comfortable enough to explore and expand have always been able to take the ruleset (or even change the rules!) and drop them into an entirely different one, even of their own making. However, now DnD can even be played completely online. There are several websites available that provide you with character sheets, the necessary dice roll systems, and the visuals to accompany the story as it unfolds.

My group played completely online, mostly for the convenience of not needing to be in the same place all at once. Often times we used skype with video and voice chat for easy communication, and also so we could see each others’ expressions as if we were all in the same room.

So, we all joined the virtual tabletop session, but the game hasn’t quite begun yet. Because it was our first time playing together, all of us still needed to make our characters. I took a look at the handbook a while beforehand, but there were a dozen different classes and a dozen more different races, all of which affected your stats and proficiencies, your abilities, what languages you spoke, as well as a plethora of other things. I won’t go into detail this time about how my character came to be, but I ended up with a tiefling (demon/human) warlock named Illixi. She was also 10 years old and 18/20 on the sexy scale. Yeah, that’s kinda weird, but don’t question it.

At first, it was really unclear what we were doing. I was partied with an undead knight, a crazy druid, an alcoholic priest, and a thief who could not stop herself from stealing everything she looked at. Our adventure started somewhere random, where our characters didn’t really know each other yet. Then all of the sudden these flaming skeletons came out of nowhere and we banded together to fight them! Yay.

From there the story developed into a murder mystery that was mostly role-playing with a bit of fighting here and there. It took a while to get used to, but it was fun. There was a lot of banter between our characters and even times where the story veered completely off course (the time where my character went to have a nap in the bed of the house we were investigating, while my companions went out to rob some guy who had just offered to take them partying comes to mind). Unfortunately, the murder was never solved because our group kinda fell apart before we got that far, but shit happens. Afterwards, I went on to create my own group with some of my old high school classmates, though that group kinda fell apart after a couple months too.

I still want to play DnD and have had thoughts of starting up again, so if there’s anyone out there who wants to give it a shot… maybe shoot me a message!

Have any of you played DnD before? What was your first adventure like?

~Erynn

 

 

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The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

I never played any of the other Witcher games, hadn’t even heard of them until a while before I bought my PS4. In part, I guess you could say that hearing about an “amazing” fantasy game on the PS4 was also part of why I bought one in the first place.

Regardless, I bought the game on the same day as I bought the PS4, even though I didn’t touch it for a while. The story itself is rather simple: You play as Geralt, a Witcher, and you’re searching for Ciri, a young woman he regards as a daughter.

If you just consider the main plot… the story itself is pretty linear. You go look for Ciri, you find Ciri, you help Ciri. But the game really isn’t about the main story, I feel, at least in comparison to other games. You’re supposed to be Geralt… doing what he would do, as a Witcher, in order to survive while working toward the ‘ultimate’ goal of locating and assisting Ciri.

When I say that you’re doing what Geralt would do, I mean side-quests. I can say with great confidence that I’ve never played a game (besides perhaps some MMOS) that has so much diversity in within the side quests and other optional missions. Not only does completing these side quests give you more information about minor and major characters, it also affects how some characters interact with you, and can change the options and goals of other quests. For example, there are several optional quests that change how your characters go about achieving your goals in the main story, which I thought was rather interesting.

My favourite part about the game, however, was how choice was implemented. Of course, a lot of RPGs these days are coming out with a lot more opportunities for the player to pick and choose the things they say and the actions they make. In the Witcher, I found myself often saving the game and re-loading it to go back and see the consequences of the different choices you could make. Usually there were quests where you had the option to kill a character or not, and how the story progressed from there depended on which you chose.

Of course, there were also sillier choices you could make, as well. There was one part of the story where you had to decide whether or not to get drunk. I chose the latter, and oh my, the trouble Geralt got into that night…

Have any of you played the Witcher III, on any system? What are your thoughts?

~Erynn

The Last of Us

I pride myself in being a storyteller. I write stories because it’s what I love to do, and because our world will always need good stories.

When I bought my PS4, it was a bundle pack with the shooter/ apocalypse game The Last of Us. Now, I’ll be quite honest… I’ve never liked shooters or anything to do with zombie apocalypses. They really weren’t my thing, mostly because I’ve always been a fan of story-driven video games and I always had it stuck in my head that most apocalyptic zombie games were just about killing, not the story.

The Last of Us changed that for me.

I didn’t care much about the game at first. It came with the PS4, but I figured my boyfriend would end up playing it instead of me. Instead, he made a comment about the game after we bought it and were heading home. Said something about how it wasn’t your typical zombie game, that it was very story based, etc., etc.. To say the least, I gave it a shot. I’m a sucker for story-based video games.

I ended up falling in love with the game. The story was beautiful; much more than I ever expected to come out of a zombie apocalypse game. I ended up completing the game twice before getting into any of the others I bought. The gameplay was pretty solid, too, though that’s not really what I want to talk about.

As a writer, I always strive to build characters, create worlds and scenarios where the reader can truly care about what’s happening to who. Ellie and Joel are probably the two most dynamic characters I’ve had the pleasure of learning about, and I sincerely hope that I can create characters who have such an impact on readers as they did to me.

The Last of Us has increased the bar for storytelling through all mediums. I hope that even if my genre of choice is completely different, I can write something just as amazing as the story told in the game.

The game also had a huge impact on how I look at zombie apocalypse games and movies in general. I’ve realized that most add science to it (though I don’t think half it of it makes sense) and that it’s not just zombies coming out of nowhere like I initially thought. Most games and movies have a different approach to how the disease spreads (for example, in The Last of Us, the disease is a fungus that was spread mostly through food supplies. That’s not a spoiler.) and different ways to go about finding a cure or just surviving.

I’m still not a huge fan of shooters, but I’ve opened myself up to them to at least learn more. With zombies, I’m more intrigued than a fan. But it’s still a step in the right direction, and I’ve learned a lot about storytelling to boot.

What about you guys? Have you played The Last of Us? What are your thoughts on the game and the story?

~Erynn

I Bought a PS4

Hey guys, sorry for not posting much of anything this month. I’ve been rather busy and though I’ve had my blog on my mind, I’ve had to slog through other things that had me push it to the side for a bit. But, things are starting to slow down, and so I shall resume writing regular posts.

At the beginning of July I bought a PS4. My boyfriend and I have wanted one for some time, and planned to get one in the near future, but I decided that I needed something that I could use to get a break from the computer. It worked great, actually. Even better than I thought it would.

See, my problem with working on the computer is that if I’m itching to do something other than work, I hop on League of Legends and play a couple ranked matches (and proceed to scream inside at how terrible everyone in Platinum seems to be) to refocus myself before going back to work. But the nature of the League ranked system would have me playing 2-3 games in a row, which is about an hour and a half depending on the length of each match. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I were able to just play one match at a time, but that really only would have been possible if I won each time because of the frustration that builds up from losing a match that should have been won.

Putting that aside, that’s where the PS4 comes in. I’m a huge RPG fan, which are easy to play in quick bursts and put down for a while to do something else. Essentially, they’re perfect for when I need a quick brain break. It’s true that I didn’t need to spend $700 on a PS4 and some games to play a good RPG, but remember that I wanted to be able to take a break from the computer, too. So, now instead of working for an hour or so and spending an hour and a half playing league, I’ve been working for about two hours at a time, and then taking a fourty-five minute break to play whatever game I’m fancying at the moment.

Since I love to talk about video games about as much as I do about writing and books, I’ll write some posts about my experieces on the PS4 as the year progresses. For now, all I’ll tell you guys is that I have The Last of Us, Witcher 3, Elder Scrolls Online, and Bloodborne. There are a couple other games I’m interested in getting (Horizon Zero Dawn comes to mind), but these will occupy me for now.

Actually, before I wrap this post up, I want to talk a bit about the PS4 itself.

Honestly, I’m not much of a console gamer. I had a PS1 a super long time ago and played the original Spyro games, I had a PS2 where I watched my family play other games like Jak and Need for Speed, and I got an original Wii for Christmas a couple years back that I never really got to use all that much.

So, I’ve never really experieced a “smart console” before now. Being able to connect to the internet and watch anime or Netflix without connecting a computer to my TV is a huge perk. I don’t see much of a use in the browser feature for anything else but watching anime (as Netflix’s selection is limited and the crunchyroll app is only useful if you have a premium sub) because a computer is much more functional. Those are my thoughts, at least. I haven’t tried much else yet.

Do any of you guys have a PS4? What are your thoughts on the machine itself?

~Erynn

Crowfall

Some of you have probably heard about it already, but for those of you who haven’t, don’t fret. Today I’m going to talk about Crowfall, a game that’s recently popped up on kickstarter and has already raised over 1 million dollars.

I’ve always loved MMOs and games that I can play with my friends, be it some PvE adventure game or some kind of PVP game. Sure I haven’t always joined a game specifically to play it with friends, but even with as anti-social as I am, I do find people I enjoy playing with and that I continue to play with.

I pre-ordered Guild Wars 2 a couple months before its release, with the intention of playing alone. Instead, however, I ended up discovering that a few people I knew in real life were also planning on playing it (one of which is still my boyfriend to this day) and joined up with them instead. I had a guild, some people to talk to and group with, but still plenty of time to do my own thing. A bit of both worlds, really.

Anyway, onto Crowfall. It’s a new, upcoming MMO that I’ve been dying to get my hands on since the moment I heard of it. It’s PVE, PVP, and I guess a little simulation (all my favourites). The world is completely made out of voxels– so like minecraft, you can destroy anything! You get your own homeworld that you can build up and control (and invite other players to live there!), and inside the Campaigns, there’s open world PvP (depending on the mode) that kinda reminds me of my PKing days on Ragnarok Online. What’s not to love?

One thing I’m especially looking forward to is the class system. From the looks of it, it’s not going to be a simple class selection. You get to pick a class, which is essentially an archetype like a mage or a tank, but at some point (it’s not clear if you pick it at the start or after a certain level) you can turn into something that takes the essence of the class you’ve chosen, and specialize in something specific. The example given on the Kickstarter page is the Knight, which can change into a Swordsman (a tank), a Crusader (a melee DPS) or a Sentinel (Ranged Specialist). It doesn’t mention whether or not you can switch between these or if the choice matters– but personally, I hope you can’t switch. That would make it so unless you plan on buying a billion character slots to have every class with every sub-class, which classes and sub-classes you choose will be very important.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to say about this. I’m really excited for this game, and though I haven’t backed it yet, I definitely will be before the Kickstarter ends.

Anyone else looking to play Crowfall? If you are, you should totally hit me up so we can play together or something when it comes out. 🙂

~Erynn

Venturi

Hi everyone!

I mentioned some months ago that I was interested in getting into video games. Last summer I went out and landed a gig with some new, college start-up company that was planning on making some awesome fantasy games. But one thing led to another and that eventually flopped. Sort of. The people I was in touch with literally disappeared off the face of the Earth. Not sure what happened.

Anyway, that prompted me to keep looking. I didn’t have much of a clue where else to search, but I ended up scouring Reddit for something similar to the fantasy rpg I was all excited for. I had no luck in that regard, but I did find something else that caught my interest– a project referred to as Venturi, or the Venturi Effect.

Venturi is a dynamic science fiction rpg with a large focus on player choice, good story, and exciting combat. The project immediately caught my interest because of the key feature to travel back in time whenever you like. Luckily for me, my writing skills were enough to get hired as the newest writer on the team and get to work!

When I joined the Venturi team, I believe in late October, there were about four people on the team. Each of us were incredibly passionate about the game, but there was too much work to be done to have it completed in a reasonable amount of time without expanding. Since then we’ve grown into a legitimate company– Negative Zero Inc.– with three times as many team members, and ten times as much passion and dedication.

We’re still in the early phases of development, but you can read a lot about the game on the official website: http://www.theventurieffect.com/

Weekly blog posts are being written by me and some of the other writers about the game itself, but those alone won’t answer all your questions, I’m sure. If you have any, please leave a comment or send me an email at kisshuquiche@gmail.com and I’ll answer to the best of my ability, as well as refer your questions to the team to make sure you get the answers you deserve!

At last, if you’re interested in the project, please subscribe to the newsletter or follow on twitter/ facebook for regular updates.

Thanks so much!

~Erynn

The Arcade

During my visit to California this November, I actually learnt a lot about myself. I’d gone travelling for plenty of reasons; I wanted to get away, go somewhere warmer than here in British Columbia, to see friends, and to do whatever else was really worth doing on a mini vacation. Learning anything about myself, in some ways, was exactly what I didn’t want to do– but I guess it still happened, so I may as well tell you about it.

I didn’t really have all that much money to spend on my trip. And really, that’s not a huge deal at all, though most people who go to California want to visit all of the theme parks and probably Hollywood and other tourist attractions. Generally speaking, that’s not me at all. I don’t like doing those things, though I did go with my friend to Knott’s because he had free tickets. So, what I went for was to enjoy myself in every other way.

One thing I did quite frequently was go to the arcade. Truthfully it wasn’t really something I was too interested in– I’d only gone to a real arcade once before, with my cousin– but I went because my friend was super into them and wanted to show me a bunch of games. At first it was his interest that prompted me to go.

At the first arcade we went to, we played dance dance revolution for hours (I SUCK) and I watched him play a few fighting games (I believe it was Marvel vs. Capcom or something like that). And really, though we didn’t really do all that much, it was incredibly fun! Though I still sucked at DDR by the end of the night, there was one thing I knew: That I wanted to go again.

Though we did end up going to the same arcade several more times during my stay, there was another that we went to. My friend wanted to take me there for a specific reason, and that was to show me more games that he thought I’d like. I figured at that point I was already in too deep to turn back, so off we went! Long story short, we played a ton of other games; more DDR, Project Diva, and some others that I can’t remember right now.

My friend already told me several times by then that rhythm games were his favourite genre. I’d always knew he was a weird one– so this didn’t really change anything– but I struggled to understand why until I stepped in and tried not only one kind, but multiple from a very large selection. It didn’t take me long to learn that it was not only incredibly fun, but also challenging in a way I hadn’t really experienced before. You see, rhythm games are all about patterns, though more specifically the beat of each different song you can play. Timing is absolutely key when the goal of the game is to press buttons in sync with certain aspects of the song. Because of this, I’ve started to love these games as well. I still suck tremendously, but I’m enjoying myself, and that’s what counts, eh?

The game in particular that I’ve been obsessing over is Project Diva.

Here’s one of my favourite songs from the game:

I’ll probably start playing different ones eventually… but for now I’m quite content with this game. 🙂

See you guys next week!

~Erynn

Why We Game

Most people have a hobby, be it sports, reading, drawing, or playing video games, like myself. I pride myself in being a gamer, not because it gives me any prestige that being apart of any other ‘hobby community’ doesn’t give you, but more to appeal to others like me who enjoy games as much as I do.

Let me say it again: all ‘hobby communities’ have a level of prestige attached to them within that community; be it based off of skill, experience, or time dedicated to the craft. There are many ways to gauge this prestige factor, and truthfully, many people cannot and will not be recognized in their community as someone important or imperative to the future of that community because there are so many people trying to do the exact same thing. But that doesn’t make any member of that community any less important (unless you are, as we say in some games, ‘toxic’, then you aren’t at all valuable and you can leave. We’ll have a party after you go to celebrate the occasion).

Regardless, let’s get back on track. Why do we game?

Well, like all hobbies, there are a variety of reasons, but not everyone can say they do because of those reasons. Personally, I like gaming because it’s entertaining. It’s challenging. It keeps me thinking, using my brain, and working around obstacles that I wouldn’t be able to experience doing anything else. Though, there’s really a lot more to it than that. I’ve never really been the most social person, so activities that involve other people I’m not all that comfortable with… yeaahh, not happening. But it’s different with video games. There’s no faces but your character, you have absolute control of whether you interact with anyone else, and if you do, how you do it. It may seem like something small, but it’s that aspect of control that’s really valuable.

As I already said, everyone  has their own reasons, as everyone has their own reasons for everything. Some people value the amount of skill requires to play some games well, some people just like being able to distract themselves from life or to collect fancy armour in an MMO.

So again, why do we game?

Because like any other hobby, it’s what we enjoy doing. 🙂

Why do you game? Or if you don’t, what about your hobbies keep you doing them over and over again?

~Erynn

My Favourite Video Game: Chrono Trigger

My favourite game of all time is Chrono Trigger, and I give my cousin Chase full credit for leading me in the direction of the game. I remember the experience very vividly…

I was in grade 5, still living in the Coquitlam area. That year my grade was loaned laptops as part of our class, ancient Apple laptops that were terrible, though I was still excited at the prospect of having my own laptop. Of course it wasn’t really mine, but I don’t think my 9 or 10 year old brain quite understood that. Regardless, my cousin being a bit of a gamer, told me that I should play this game, Chrono Trigger, and being as attached as I was at the time, was eager to follow through with this suggestion.

So I was told how to emulate a game, where to go, what to do, and several hours later, voilà! Chrono Trigger was working, and I was ready to play. And play I did.

For those of you who haven’t played the game yet, Chrono Trigger is an old N64 game (I believe) that is considered one of the most beloved games of all time. If you haven’t played it yet, you should. The game was remade a few years ago using the same graphics and dialogue (just with a few add ons) into a Nintendo DS game. For genre, I would refer to it as a Fantasy RPG.

Looking back on the time I spent playing this game (I’ve played through it two or three times since I completed it the first, oh so many years ago…) there was a lot of humour, puzzles, and interesting look on magic, melee combat, politics (corruption and lack thereof), as well as position of people within a civilization, both those at the top and those at the bottom. Of course if I were to go back and replay the game again, I would probably analyse all of those aspects throughout the time I played it. But as I have so many other games to play, I don’t foresee myself getting the opportunity to do so any time soon.

One time I remember very well from my first play through was when I finally reached the last boss. I’d been trying to beat him for a long time, my cousin was kinda there watching, and I asked if they could do it for me. I recall the laptop being handed back to me several tries later with no luck, where I then tried one more time and finally beat the damned thing.

Chrono Trigger is a challenging game, both intellectually and skilfully. What’s the game actually about, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to tell you. Go find out for yourself. There are parts where you want to jump with happiness, shout in anger, and cry with sadness; aren’t those the aspects of a game that tell you it is one to be loved thoroughly? It is truly a well rounded game that anyone with a mild interest in the RPG genre will enjoy.

Again, if you’ve yet to try it, please do. You won’t regret it. And when you’re done, please come back and tell me your thoughts on it.

Have you played Chrono Trigger before?

~Erynn

Writing In Video Games

Something I’ve been interested in for a long time is writing for an actual video game. What prompted me to go out and pursue this recently was an opportunity that I saw; not one that I could take advantage of now, but one that maybe I could be lucky enough to grab in the future. That opportunity was seeing a job opening in BioWare, a department picked up by EA Games dedicated to creating brilliant RPGs and the like. If I was maybe 10 years older, it would have been a dream come true… but lacking the age and experience needed to even interest such a company, it’s something I need to pass on for now.

Just to give you a bit more perspective, they were asking for a minimum of 5 years writing experience in a similar environment (writing and developing stories behind video games), in addition to university education. While I believe I write very good for my age (remember guys, I only just graduated high school this year), I’m in no way shape or form ready to take on such a task.

However, it solidified my desire to pursue something other than novel writing, and that’s why starting yesterday, I started seeking work writing for video games. I picked up a gig several months ago where I was supposed to write the story for a fantasy rpg, but it kind of fell apart. Well, fell apart in the sense that after the guy said he wanted me on their team he disappeared. 😥 Today I got in contact with two different people managing two different projects, one very interested in having me write for them. So maybe it something comes of it in the near future, I’ll be taking a step in that direction that I can tell you guys about.

I’d like to talk a bit more about my experience with that fantasy rpg I just mentioned. While I didn’t get too far into any of the work involved in that project, it was the beginning of a whole new era of writing for me. I opened myself up to the world of script writing (something I had little interest in before), and to the world of real world development. When you’re designing a world for a novel, you only have to see it well enough to write your readers into it. You have narrative readily available to throw your readers into the story, but that’s completely gone in video games. Instead of you writing and describing everything that happens around the reader, the reader is instead a player, and is experiencing the world as the artists pictured it, and it’s your job to reflect that world in the characters.

A video game I finished recently is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I highly recommend it if you like diverse combat, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss today. I picked up the game because my boyfriend said I should try it, and he reinforced this fact by supplying me with the information that one of my favourite fantasy authors, R.A. Salvatore, wrote the story for the game. Here’s an article with an interview with R.A. Salvatore regarding his involvement in the game.

What I’ve so far learned about writing for video games is that it’s nothing like writing a novel. You need to show the player the world you’ve spent so long building in a completely different way. Each and every character within the game, whether it be a simple farmer or a merchant is significant. Your story affects everyone, everyone the player touches, and everything that you, the writer, have yet to touch on yourself.

What are your thoughts on the stories behind video games, the writing that is involved in it? Have any of you ever written for a video game before (be it dialogue, quests, or developing an actual story)?

~Erynn