Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mass Effect: Take Out Those Hostiles! (SPOILERS for all 3 games)


I’ve clocked in a few more hours since my last update (er, about 6) so time to fill you in on how much of the universe Morrigan Shepard has saved so far.


Journal: I’ve been to Eden Prime, been assaulted by a beacon, made Kaidan look slightly bashful by saving his useless ass, and been Spectrefied. Filled with a new sense of universal responsibility, Shepard immediately stormed off to bum around some planets for a bit, consequently getting ambushed by a Thresher Maw and had to turn off someone’s life support (always fun). Finally remembering there’s a plot and stuff to be playing with, I zipped off to Artemis Tau and picked up the rather-more-girly-sounding-than-I-remembered Liara T’soni, and had my first proper brush with OH F’FUCKSAKE MAKO WHERE ARE YOU EVEN GOING?!


I also got Tali at some point. Did I mention that? I remember because I just had to sit through her telling me about her bloody pilgrimage in the engine room, which I punctuated with shouts of “Piss off you space fascist!” Tali is a bit of a fan favourite, a state of affairs I’ve never quite understood, and I have to admit I felt vindicated in the 3rd game where you see Quarian history through Geth eyes and realise what bastards they were. With this in mind, Tali’s insistence that they had to shut them down (i.e. kill them) before the problem got worse feels particularly callous, and if nothing else you realise that her character arc is a pretty good one after all (unless you manage to make her jump off a cliff in the 3rd game, which is mainly just hilarious). However, I have resolved to give Tali a chance this time round, and she is quite useful when it comes to making synthetics explode.


Right now I’m at the Zhu’s Hope colony on Feros, or as it’s otherwise known, Why Don’t You Ask Fai Dan About That? This is the quest that results in shooting both zombies and a giant plant anus, so obviously it’s one of my favourites, but I’d forgotten how annoying all the colonists were. All conversations go like this:


Shepard: So, that’s a nice hat. Tell me what you know about that hat.

Colonist: I don’t know really, you should ask Fai Dan. He knows more about it than me.

Shepard: Really? The hat on your head? Fai Dan knows more about the hat on your head?

Colonist: Yeah, ask Fai Dan.

Shepard: I have a fucking gun right here you know.

Colonist: ….

Shepard: I should go.


BUT, I get to shoot them all later so it’s fine.



I have missed all the random shouting your team mates do in the first game. Really, it’s not the same without Garrus bellowing “ENEMIES EVERYWHERE!” in your ear every five seconds.


Favourite Shepard line so far: “Big stupid jellyfish!” I’m fairly sure that’s xenophobic, Sheps, but it made me chuckle.


The Krogan seem faster in the first game, and regenerate health at a terrifying rate. They also seem very keen on running right at you, causing Shepard to shriek heroically “Argh, get it off me, get it off me!”


Monday, 21 January 2013

Mass Effect: In the middle of some... calibrations

If you’ve read this blog at all previously you will know that I love Mass Effect. You will probably also know that I’ve dedicated an alarming number of hours to it already, and you may be thinking, “Look, for chrissake Jennifer, what are you on about? Do we have to have an intervention again? Was the song we wrote* about your Dragon Age obsession a waste of everyone’s time?”

But, yes, I have decided to play Mass Effect again, starting from the very beginning. Yes I have. And I have decided this time round to blog about it. Why? Well, because I have a lot on at the moment…

(and here I can sense you getting quite purple in the face and narrowing your lips at me, because obviously this is a prime reason not to get involved in the best of all Space Opera RPGs, but please, my slightly goblin-faced friend, let me finish…)


 …and I find Mass Effect, with all its moral conundrums and shooting people in the face to be the most marvellous stress relief. At the moment my day looks something like this: editing and revisions in the morning, day job in the afternoon, editing and revisions in the evening, collapse in front of tumblr and drool whilst making distant whale noises. What I thought was, instead of the drooling and not achieving much bit, I could go back and explore one of my favourite and most beloved things of all time, with a mind to writing the occasional blog post about it; a little chat about the worldbuilding maybe, about the complex relationships and the building of tension, as well as the occasional gratuitous bit of Garrus worship. Let’s face it, if anything deserves to be pored over and adored, it’s Mass Effect.


 So here she is, Morrigan Shepard (named for that wily witch of the wilds from Dragon Age: Origins)


Initially I was tempted to try and make her look like David Bowie (there is just something about the “short blonde hair” preset that invites this) but in the end I went for quite a severe, bad-ass look. As is traditional, I lamented over the weird choices of lipstick – neon pink, kebab shop red and, um, black – and faffed over the haircut. I chose (for possibly the first time, I can’t remember) to make her a War Hero and a Spacer, and class-wise I’ve gone for Vanguard. Technically speaking I should have gone for Engineer because that’s pretty much the only one I’ve never played, but GAWD it sounds boring. I just can’t get behind “trained in omni tools and tech blah blah oh Christ who cares…”

Journal: Have played up until the point where Shepard lands on the Citadel for the first time. Hellooo space utopia!


I have entirely forgotten how to take cover: Kaidan got shot quite a few times before I figured this out.

I really, really miss being able to roll into cover.

The black lipstick actually looks rather kick ass in cut scenes, particularly when Shepard is wearing a helmet.

I went to the loading bay and tried to shoot the Mako but it wouldn’t let me. Damn it. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The State of Play

Greeting from the mysterious mists of editing! I thought I’d just pop my head over the battlements so you know I’m still here; we might be down to chewing the shoe leather and eyeing up the rats for dinner, but the People’s Republic of Novel Revisions is still going strong.


No, I don’t know where I’m going with that either.


It’s been a busy few weeks. I’m in the midst of revising The Copper Promise and that has proven to be an oddly exhausting activity, at least mentally. It’s fascinating though; when Juliet gave me her pointers for smartening the thing up, it gave me a new perspective on the book, and now I understand rather more about the characters than I did previously. Which just shows how incredibly useful a very perceptive reader can be.


So yes! It’s very exciting, actually. One of my biggest jobs (ahem) is to reduce the word count as The Copper Promise is rather on the hefty side. On the face of it, to my delicate writer’s soul, this feels nigh on impossible. “I’ll never manage it!” I wail, chewing on my pens in Eat and worrying the Kenny Everett look-a-like who makes the coffee. “Every word is essential!”


Except it’s not, of course. I have spare words all over the shop, and scenes I am perhaps not utterly happy with, and so the Big Fat Chunky Word Count is being whittled down to a slightly more slippery number. It’s oddly satisfying, plus it’s enormous fun to be back with Wydrin and the gang. I’ve missed them.


In other bits of small news, Dark Fiction Magazine has reopened to submissions, and for our March episode we’re looking for stories inspired by folklore (a favourite subject of mine) so get scribbling! And yes, I am still doing the Everything and the Cat Project (even if one night of booze almost made me forget to upload the thing) and at the end of this month I’ll do a little post rounding up my favourite pictures so far. In the meantime, if you feel the need for random photos of trees and Lego in your life, you can follow me on instagram (username sennydreadful, as ever).

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Everything and the Cat: A Picture a Day for 2013

Last night, half asleep in bed, I made some vague and possibly foolish tweets about trying to take a photo a day for 2013. It should be easy now, I reckoned, what with all these fancy pants mega-phones and their applications. I do like taking photos, even if I'm a bit crap at it, and there's always a chance that the odd snap might inspire a story some how. 

So I'm going to give it a try. Below is the photo I took yesterday, just opposide the sexual health clinic in Camberwell (I was waiting for the bus)


And today's photo, which was taken in The Sun of Camberwell this evening. Don't worry, I won't post every single one to the blog, as I suspect that will get boring, but I'll be putting them all on instagram (if you would like to follow me on there, I am sennydreadful, predictably)