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More Mass Effect 3 SPOILER Ending Thoughts – The Indoctrination Theory

OK. When it came to the Mass Effect 3 ending, I’d said my piece (spoiled and non-spoiled) and counted to three. I was good, I was finished, I was content. Then I had a brief conversation with a friend yesterday. He’d never played any of the Mass Effect games and wanted some questions answered, so he could put the frothing waves of rage into context. I answered them from my perspective. Then he said something about a theory that was the hot thing on the Intarwebs, something I’d paid zero attention to, a little thing called the Indoctrination Theory. I decided to check into this theory. What I read changed everything.

Essentially, my friend took a stick and jammed it into the anthill of my brain and stirred it all up. The rat bastard.

Oh, and if I haven’t been entirely clear, there are spoilers below the “Read the rest of this entry”. SPOILERS. Spoilers. (spoilers)

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My SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Thoughts About Mass Effect 3’s Ending (UPDATED)

I’m going to go ahead and talk about the ending of Mass Effect 3 and their curious decision to have Chewbacca appear at the very end of the game and lead everyone in the Macarena while the blue elephant plays his round piano. Yes, I know that didn’t happen, but I didn’t want the preview thing to show any actual spoilers to ruin someone else’s experience. I will wait until after the jump, which is right here.

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My Spoiler-Free Thoughts About the Mass Effect 3 Ending, And Endings in General (Updated)

An angry gamer, via The Gamer’s Paradox.

I finished Mass Effect 3 this weekend. It took me a long time to get there. The game has a ton of content, and I played a lot of multiplayer as well (because playing multiplayer actually makes a difference in your single-player campaign – you don’t need to, but it helps if you aren’t a completionist. I, however, am both, so I played the shit out of the game and it still took me 10 days to play through). I am sad that my first playthrough is over, because I love the game and the series that much, but I’m already into my second playthrough, so that’s OK.

Before I could finish, though, I’d heard enough about the ending to make me concerned. No one spoiled it for me, thank goodness, but even though I made a great effort to avoid hearing anything at all about became impossible. What I heard, though, wasn’t about anything game-specific; rather, what managed to get past my filters was loud enough to make it unavoidable.

That’s what’ll happen when a huge fanbase goes out of their ever-lovin’ minds.

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My Spoiler-Free Mass Effect 3 Review

A recent picture of me, Commander Aravan Shepard.

Now that I’m sitting down to type this, I’ve realized that I have no idea who this review would be for. If you played Mass Effects 1 and 2 and loved them, then you don’t need my encouragement. If you played them and hated them, it doesn’t matter what I have to say, because (mild spoiler) Mass Effect 3 is a lot like the first two. And if you have never played Mass Effect at all, then I wouldn’t recommend starting with ME3. Buy the first one and play it. If you liked it, play the second. If you liked that, buy this one. But maybe you’ve played the first 2, liked them, and didn’t know if this one would be any good. Maybe you’re scared. Understandable. I was apprehensive in the extreme. Already this year I’d played a game I was really looking forward to, only to find cruel, bitter disappointment. Maybe it would happen again.

Well, after 30 or so hours of multiplayer, then playing from 6pm to 3 am Tuesday, then 10 am to 2 am on Wednesday, then 11 am to 10 pm Thursday, I can give you my opinion of the game. It’s only one guy’s opinion. Maybe you will disagree. But here is my eleven-word review:

HOLY FUCK THIS IS THE GREATEST GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED.

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Skyrim: A Rambling Review

I really wanted to love Skyrim, the latest in the Elder Scrolls series. From the moment I started hearing about it on X-Play, The Most Watched Video Game On Television (as well as The Only Video Game Show on Television), I wanted to own it, snuggle up with, make it my own. I’d played plenty of Morrowind and Oblivion, although I never even came close to finishing the main storyline in either. But a lot has changed for me in gaming since Oblivion came out, not least of which the fact that I’ve stopped playing PC games over the last couple of years and have almost exclusively gone to the XBox 360. I did worry a bit about the transition, especially since the default character models in Oblivion were such total and complete ass that it made a gorgeous video game into a trip to Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. The advantage of the PC version was that you could download mods that changed the way characters looked. On the XBox, there is no chance for that. I wasn’t going to let it stop me.

The closer to release it came, the more I heard about its epic awesomeness. I didn’t get it at release, since I was trying (and failing) to finish a novel in November, plus I have editing to do on The Storm of Northreach and was afraid of a timesink. It seemed like every fantasy fan I knew was playing it. I heard about it on Facebook. My friends talked about it. My expectations and hopes were raised to a level that it would’ve been nearly impossible to meet them. My awesomely wonderful wife bought me a copy a couple of weeks ago, and that became the moment: could it possibly live up to it?

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5 Things About LARPs and Hurricanes and Assorted Other Stuff

1. I played in a LARP two weekends ago. It was a different kind of game than ones I’d done in the past. The game is set in post-apocalyptic America where most of the population is either dead or Infected – like the “zombies” in 28 Days Later, fast and angry – and you are trying to get by and survive along with a group of other would-be survivors. It took place on a campground that had a replica ship, castle, and fort on the land, all of which were incorporated into the game as actual locations to explore and fight in. Combat was simulated using Airsoft weapons from pistols to shotguns to assault rifles along with “boffer” weapons – essentially replica weapons made with PVC and foam padding so it doesn’t hurt when you accidentally closeline someone.

I had a fucking blast.

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Some Observations from GenCon 2011

Last week into the beginning of this one, I was in Indiana for my first ever GenCon. For the uninitiated, GenCon is a gaming convention that mostly caters to tabletop roleplaying, LARPing (L Live. A Action. R Role. P Playing. Live Action Role-Playing), collectible card games (like those weird Japanese things where you basically raise cute little fake animals to be stone-cold murderous gladiators), miniature wargaming, and stuff along those lines. Essentially, it’s Gamer Nerd Heaven.

My wife and I knew a bunch of people who were going, which was the main draw. See, we’re what I call half-jokingly Retired Gamers. We used to tabletop regularly, but stopped about 3 years ago. We used to play two or more LARPs a year, but stopped about 3 years ago as well. We used to play Magic: The Gathering but stopped 6 or so years ago. So we don’t really game much. In fact, we planned on playing absolutely nothing when we went out there, which is pretty much the opposite of what everyone else does when they go to a GenCon. Our plan was to hang out with friends and drink.

Mission accomplished.

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Choose Your Own Adventure – My Gateway Drug

I just read an article on Slate about the beloved Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, and it made me think about those days of school book fairs and curling up in my room with the latest one, Forbidden Castle or Deadwood City.  I was probably 8 when I got my first one, and it was like the first hit of heroin for me.  I suddenly had the power to choose where a narrative went – my decisions suddenly mattered.  What was going to happen to me?  It was intoxicating. Read the rest of this entry

I Am A: Nerd

I Am A: Chaotic Neutral Human Wizard/Rogue (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-16
Dexterity-15
Constitution-15
Intelligence-17
Wisdom-14
Charisma-14 Read the rest of this entry

The 2010 First Annual Aravan Awards

Every December, every publication on Earth (and I also believe on Betelgeuse IV, but there might be a magazine there that doesn’t believe in linear time and so form an exception) feels an overwhelming urge to put out a Top Ten List for 2010 of some variety, or hand out awards based on flimsy criteria and dubious decision making.  Some wait until later, like The Academy (fitting in America that our most prominent Academy has nothing whatsoever to do with learning), to hand out their own stupid awards, but that’s only so they can milk the process. 

Why not?  After all, coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world.  Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.”  It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.

So I am TOTALLY in! Read the rest of this entry