Friday, December 12, 2014

Video Game Reflection: Relationships

True story: I am not used to video games having relationship angles in them.

Except for the Sims.  But that's all the game is about without extra expansions, so I disqualify it.

No, I'm talking about typical hero/quest/adventure video games.  Action and adventure; swords, battle axes, shapeshifting, using the Force, whatever.

Let me back up and explain that my first ever "true" video game was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  Everything before that (other than Mixed-Up Fairy Tales) was educational.

Anybody remember any of these games?

My brothers and I still have the abandonware today.

Featuring the Shady Glen television station.

Starring paint-slinging robots and math puzzles galore.

Then for Christmas, we got a new computer to replace the brick of an IBM (which only took 3.5" floppy disks (which really weren't floppy compared to the larger 5" disks the old school computers ran on)) that was my first home computer.  That shiny new machine had a CD-ROM drive and Windows 95--it was a thing of beauty!

It also game with a small binder of game discs, which included Myst by Broderbund.

The first realistic 3D game environment I'd ever encountered.

And that was how I got my love of puzzle games, and a glimpse into how games could look (as long as the game didn't have people in it--the first Myst game only had one actual person, and because of the mechanics, you couldn't move in all directions around him).

This was followed by some early internet chatrooms, which introduced me to the wider concept of MMORPGs.  The first one I ever tried was Runescape, and I made it my mission to be the best miner, smelter, and blacksmith ever without raising my combat level (as much as possible; you had to be certain levels to mine in special locations).  

I was the great ore stealer; people would assume that li'l old level 22 me would lose at the ore deposits (because the game awarded the ores to the highest mining level, which was also affected by equipment) when they were level 80+.  Mwahaha!  

Apparently, I'm an early internet troll.

But imagine what it was like for me when in college, somebody gave me an N64 emulator and a bunch of different game images to play on them.  (College was in 2002, in case  you're wondering.)

I went from thinking that 3D characters looked like this:

To this:

And then of course, to this:

This is probably how I got my thing for blond elves.

Around that time, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out in theaters.  Besides being the deciding factor in my choice of college major, the trilogy was accompanied by the Gamecube RPG game The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.

Do you see where this is going?

Couple that with what I was learning about tabletop games, and then the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the brand-new Wii system...well.

Now we get the gist of where my desire to play hack'n'slash characters comes from.

However, though the relationship between Link and Princess Zelda is always heavily implied (discounting all of the other ladies in the games such as Midna and Ilia), there's no real "romance" opportunities.  I thought games were supposed to be linear, for the most part, with tons of tiny side quests for bonuses and loot.

Then I entered my Dungeons and Dragons Online phase in grad school.  (There may have been some Serious Sam mixed in--I warned you about me and hack'n'slash!)  This opened my eyes to cool customizable characters.  My friends and I spent real money buying the pretty armor from the store, in whatever colors we wanted.  To me, that was the most advanced character creation I'd ever seen.

(Here I'm discounting the creation of Minecraft skins in Paint, which I've also done.)

This is Deevius and I posing in a clothing/armor shop.

But it didn't stay that way...

Another friend, who is a fellow Lord of the Rings geek, had heard that the online MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online was going free-to-play (this was a couple years ago) and we should check it out.


I never go into these things alone; I of course told my other geek friends what I was doing (the same ones that used to Serious Sam with me, and DDO with me) and lo and behold...we now have our own kinship and game together once a week.  (I in fact bought us all each two expansions during the Black Friday sale this year at the Turbine store.)

Now, I'd heard of other MMORPGs that have relationship options with NPCs, I think from Mike the coworker.  While LotRO does not have that mechanic in place, Deevius, DSCA and I have already divvied up the elf lords we're going to snuggle if that should ever be a possibility.

I mean, DSCA already has Elladan's pants...

Ahem.  I digress.

Around the time I began to play LotRO, I also started dating the Panda.  He was impressed that I had my own Wii.  I was impressed that a boy wanted to talk to me.  (At our small college, geek and/or nerd girls are a minority, and were somewhat frowned upon in my day.  This resulted in me bringing my Wii and television to all the on-campus parties I could.  I educated even the most sheltered of people with Mario Party 8 and Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix.)

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

We married the summer of the year I began playing LotRO and he moved all of his gaming equipment into our house.  Now, the Panda is an only child, and he would save his money to buy each of the Nintendo gaming systems as it came out.

So, my sparse video game life suddenly exploded.

I didn't know what to do first!  (I still don't know!)

The Panda favors games such as Halo, The Last of Us, Uncharted, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, and Destiny (to name a few of the lasting ones).

He brought with him a PlayStation 3--to me, a mythical device that replaced my DVD player and could also use Netflix and Amazon Video.  At first, I had no use for it; I couldn't even figure out how to play movies.

But then the Panda started playing through the Mass Effect trilogy...and suddenly I didn't care that I didn't know how to use a PS3.  I watched him interact with the characters and make decisions.

And then I watched him romance Miranda.

Well.  Two can play that game.

Yes, I do mean literally.

I would spend the nights he was at work playing the Mass Effect games as (of course) FemShep.  The first time Kaidan made a move on her, I didn't see it coming and I turned him down flat.  (The only options in ME1 are Kaidan and Liara.)  I was too busy mastering the mechanics of a type of game I'd never played before to complicate FemShep's life with another person.

Also, thanks in part to my roleplaying game background, I had already begun to put together a probably backstory for my FemShep (other than her Spacer, Hero chosen requirement).  Her inspiration came a tiny bit from Honor Harrington, David Weber's character and the subject of over a dozen space navy books (toward the end they get a little ridiculous).

Anyway, Velvet Shepard's backstory included at least one failed shipboard romance, likely early in her Alliance career.  It was likely very hurtful, and possibly detrimental to her career, and it could have taken some interference from higher-ups for her to get out of that situation.  (Details unclear--read my fanfic.)  Needless to say, she resolved never to date within the Alliance chain of command ever again.

So my Shepard went on her way, trying and failing to be a good Infiltrator (I do not have the steady hands to use a sniper rifle at all).  My go-to team for ME1 was Wrex and Garrus.  I loved their interplay, and BioWare did a fantastic job creating a well-rounded, interesting universe.

When I find a new fandom/universe and it really, really grabs my attention I go all-out.  That means reading wikis, articles, walkthroughs, and anything else I can get my hands on.  The Lord of the Rings was the last fandom I got really entangled in.

I knew that ME2 was going to be very different from ME1, and not just because of the expanded party options (ten people?  Seriously??).  My FemShep was waking up in a changed universe, presumed dead and brought back to life by the enemy.  The first familiar face she ever saw was Garrus'.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I had already decided (based on the Panda's playthrough) that if I was going to get sidetracked by a romance, I wanted it to be with Garrus.  This didn't stop me, however, from nearly running right into Jacob's arms accidentally.  I didn't just turn him down flat, I dropped him like a hot potato (because I wasn't aware that I had picked him up--oops).

When asked why I chose Garrus, I wasn't sure why (the character is an alien) at first.  But as I did more and more of his conversation interactions, I noticed how charming and awkward he was.

Just like the Panda.

Hm.  Could be a fluke.

Well, last night I spent some time playing Dragon Age: Origin with the Panda's shared Steam library.

(Side note: this is the one time I have ever been ahead of him in a game!  I know what's coming!  My glee cannot be contained!)

Another BioWare game, Dragon Age is a medieval RPG game, but the plot is so fascinating, it's almost like a disaster you can't look away from.

Anyway, there's another awkward character, and as a female gray warden with any shred of sympathy, you could also find him charming and bashful.  Yeah, I'm talking about Alistair.

What's not to love about a man that says things like that?

The Panda finds it amusing that all my romance choices are essentially him in the games.  I think he's proud.  (I hope he's proud, at least...)

What can I say?  Bumbling charm is what does it for me.  And I don't mind the corniness because of the sincerity.

In one of the cut scenes, Alistair says something like: "Have I told you that I love you today?  Well, it doesn't matter, because it bears repeating: I love you."

My warden answered: "I love you, too."

Alistair:  "See, was that so hard?"

I had to play this part twice, and both times I yelled at Alistair for quoting the Panda.

But enough of me and my video game history.  I didn't have a craft project to share, so I thought I'd talk a little about what I did in game yesterday night, and early this morning.


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