jenniferkoliver: (Foo Fighters | Learn to Fly)
I'm never immediately sure when the cinematic cutscenes in The Order 1886 are finished and I'm in control of the character again. It's seamless. Visually this game is something else. (Here's the trailer if anyone missed it. Yeah, so the gameplay looks exactly like that.) It's boggling how fast game development has progressed even just in the last few years. It makes you wonder what games will be like in five, ten years time. :O

A few acts into The Order 1886 and it's enjoyable so far. The prologue is nice, though I don't think it does the visuals as much justice as it could--the scenes are shadowy and shaky and sparse, and the real wow! doesn't happen until Act I when you've flashed back. Galahad is a cool dude, the supporting cast seems intriguing, and the voice acting is superb. I really hope there's a lot of character development and emotional stuff to come; I feel like this game could blow the mind if the writing is as strong as the virtual world-building.

I'm a little disappointed by how linear the gameplay is, though. They show you this rich, complex and incredibly detailed labyrinth, but you can't really explore it in the way you want to. Just a little bit of freedom to wander side streets and pick up mini missions would probably make the setting more satisfying. I prefer having the option to occasionally deviate from the main story, do something else for an hour or so, and then come back to continue the main plot when I'm ready. Right now, it's very much like watching a movie, which in some ways is great, but I'm not really having to think too hard or strategise.

And on a different gaming note, Dragon Age Inquisition. Yeah, I'm terribly late to this party, but it turned out my PC laptop was unable to run the game when it first came out. There was a lot of sadface about this because some of my friends were playing it and having a blast (gaming envy, meep). But hey, I got a PS4 recently so I'm very much back in the game!

Party set-up for my level 16 Rift Mage: Varric for ranged, poisoned weapons, and a bit of stealthy goodness; Vivienne because as a Knight-Enchanter she is developing into a freaking godly one-woman-army; Cassandra because she's not a terrible sword-and-boarder, and damnit I've grown attached to her. We make a nice little team. The other characters are nicely distinguishable from each other, but I get stuck in my ways (for example, in DA:O it was invariably DPS!mage, Alistair, Wynne and Leliana). Initially it was tempting to go the Knight-Enchanter route, but I heard that running Viv in the party with you also as a K-E mage pretty much nerfs the game. Like, you could virtually go out with just you and Viv and take everything down. While that sounds instantly gratifying, I'm looking for a bit of a challenge, so in the end Rift Mage seemed the less easy option.

A few other things about DAI )

Also played a little bit of Destiny but that's one to be put aside for now. I can already tell that I'd get massively sucked into it and with current writing projects and general life stuff, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Sigh. :)

Also, even more sadface, a few weeks ago Cam and Seb put up their last episode of Top Five Skyrim Mods of the Week. Gah, I'm going to miss this show so much, and honestly I'm not ready to let go. :/ But best of luck to the guys and whatever they plan to do next.

Revolution by Xilent.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wolfwomen)
Still on something of a hiatus (which I don't think I mentioned before), hence I've not been so commenty lately. Everything is OK, I'm just getting on with a lot of offline things right now, while snatching a little time to work on the novel in between. I do hope everyone on my f-list is doing well!

I've watched a few videos of Dragon Age: Inquisition gameplay and I have to say, it's looking incredible. I know I often bang on about Skyrim, but there are echoes of it in the DA:I world-building—in the scenery, the way the trails are set out, and the more open-world feel of the game. Not that I'm going to spend all my time comparing the two; they're very different games with very different goals. It sounds like DA:I is still going to focus greatly on character relationships, and interactions will impact the course of the game in fundamental ways. More thoughts about Dragon Age Inquisition here, with links to gameplay videos )

And just in case you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out: Dragon Age: Inquisition HD Teaser Trailer. (My god, but doesn't it look gorgeous?) Now all I have to do is be patient until autumn 2014. Riiiight.

You know, every time I think EXO can't get any derpier, they go and derp all over the internet. This video is... well. Some of the members were given a punishment for failing a game. The punishment? They have to spell out their names using the movement of their butts. No, I'm not kidding, Buttwriting is a thing now, and apparently Xiumin is the king and lord of all. (Chen's flailing commentary in the background nearly made me rupture something.) I just. I just can't. 13/08/2013 Sukira EXO Punishment (Subtitled).

Also, I realise I haven't mentioned that I'm going to New York at Christmastime. Aaaah! Will post more about that soon.

Badman, by B.A.P.
jenniferkoliver: (Spirited Away | Chihiro & Haku)
Whoa, so I didn't mean to drop off the face of LJ. There have been a combination of things keeping me away—I went to stay with some friends a couple of weeks ago, which was fantabulous, but while there I picked up a vicious cold and brought it back home, then was out of commission for a week with that. And then this past week has just flown; I have no idea what's going on. But I hope everyone is doing well. ♥

BioWare Writer Quits After Death Threats to Family - a friend linked me to this the other day. It's astounding that some people can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. It's gaming, for chrissakes. Totally crazybones.

And I never realised 'chrissakes' is a recognised word in the Oxford Dictionary, until now. Huh, learning things!

Oh, and I've been reading Garth Nix. Yep, finally. I read Sabriel, which I adored, and now I'm a quarter way through Lirael which I am also adoring. I wish I'd found Sabriel back in the 90s when I was a young adult. It probably would have changed my life. (Not that life was bad back then, but you know what I mean.)

His Young Heart (EP), by Daughter. This is a full EP currently on YT. It's really beautiful and mellow, at times reminding me of Bat For Lashes's Two Suns.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Book!)
I said it on Twitter but I want to say it again: it's so, so sad about Iain M. Banks and he will be greatly missed. It seems to have come a lot quicker than anyone thought. And he'd been talking about trying chemo, too. We've lost an incredible author. May he pilot spaceships forevermore.

After the Other Worlds workshop with the Year 10 students in January, the school ran a short story competition to the same theme and I was asked to judge the stories. I read through the shortlisted entries over the weekend and picked my top 4, but decided to give a little feedback on all of the stories because they all had potential. It was quite fun being a judge, but goodness, it was difficult selecting my favourites.

For ages I'd been hoping to recreate my LJ layout on my Dreamwidth mirror journal, to no avail. But recently I found this brilliant tutorial on the community Starlit: Adding LJ Layout to DW (All Users). In a few short steps, it shows you how to create theme layers, and import the LJ theme layers for S2 styles like Flexible Squares, Smooth Sailing, Mixit and Nebula. I've now got my skeletal moose look on DW and it feels a lot more like a home. :)

Dragon Age: Inquisition Official Trailer - released at the E3 2013 EA Conference. Should be out in autumn 2014, omg omg. Morrigan! Words cannot express how excited I am for this. kgsa;hg;ahj!

Simple Man, cover by Deftones.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wouldn't Like Me)
My friend Stephen gave me Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker on DVD for my birthday and I watched it last night. I didn't even know such a thing existed (been in more of a Bethesda mood than a Bioware mood lately), or whether an anime style would suit a series that's become popular on gaming platforms.

Official trailer. The animation style took a little getting used to—very different from the games—but I ended up enjoying the tangle of traditional animation and CGI. At times it has a comic book feel, which works with the action, and the dreamy style lends to the fantastical element, though how well it slots in with the visual fabric of the games depends on what Dragon Age III looks like. There were things they could have tweaked to make it deeper, like characters getting dirty and scraped as they trek around engaging in hardcore battles. In the extras one of the creators said they intentionally kept the look clear with a lot of negative space so you focused on the characters, but I don't know if it worked quite so well—in the games there's a lot of detail and the world has real depth. But OK, this is an anime, and it plays a little like an extended cut scene (whose animation is always better).

The story focuses on Cassandra Pentaghast, who we first meet interrogating Varric in Dragon Age II. I always wondered about her and whether we'd learn more. She's a cool character, and I liked her design. For me, the anime fell down on story, with a handful of hackneyed moments that had me rolling my eyes, and a predictable character motivation which I'll cut because it's spoilery )

So I liked the visuals and special effects, and I've always liked the way Bioware writes the political aspect of their series. Cassandra was nifty and there were weak glimmers of Alistair in Galyan, but parts of the story could have been stronger. Still, it's spiffy to catch a glimpse of Orlais, where it's rumoured the third game will be set.

Find the DVD on Amazon here.

I still have a write-up of the Sci-Fi Weekender 2013 in the pipelines. It's just taking a lot longer than I thought. :)

Burn, by The Cure. And a truly awesome The Crow music vid.
jenniferkoliver: (Jay & Silent Bob)
Dragon Age III: Inquisition was recently announced, and should be with us late 2013. *squee* Bioware's DA franchise is one of my favourites, Origins being the first PS3 game I ever played. I've been itching for more info about the third game in the series, and while the developers aren't saying too much—mostly technical stuff at this point—they've given a couple of interesting morsels, like the possibility of having up to 10 companions (though I'm guessing not at the same time) and armour and followers being more customisable than in previous games. The map also sounds epic compared to Origins and II, and there was mention of a French theme, so hopefully we'll get to see some of Orlais. Wonder if they'll figure out a way of cameoing Bann Teagan again. I do love me some Teagues!

Just a reminder that Iain M. Banks will be at Topping Books in Bath this Thursday, from 8pm. More info here. Looks like I'll be getting a train in, since my car broke down yesterday in a most spectacular fashion.

And a few links, either from my bookmarks or snagged from various friends:

Bad Lip Reading of Twilight. Someone's made a hilarious dub of Twilight based on what it looks like the characters are saying. I think I prefer this version.

The 30 Second Bunnies Theatre Library. This is basically popular Hollywood movies, performed by animated bunnies, in 30 seconds. Genius. I particularly like Terminator, Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.

Japanese Streets. I spend way too much time lurking here. Fantastic blog that's been going for 10 years, documenting Japanese street fashion. A lot of cool or quirky looks from Tokyo, Osaka and beyond.

The Pretender, by Foo Fighters.
jenniferkoliver: (SPN | Castiel)
How awkward is it when you're walking along and someone comes out of a room or doorway and starts walking the same way as you, and you're sort of walking together but not quite, and you don't know each other, so one person has to speed up and one has to slow down until there's enough distance between you to walk comfortably again, and everyone involved feels a tad stupid? The answer is, most awkward!

I've been playing a spot of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in my spare time (a little late to the party, as always), and all I can say is: epic whoa. Cutting this for lengthy rambles about large RPGs )

Aside from that, I've been writing, submitting, receiving rejections—a couple of them very encouraging—working, playing, and snuggling my cat. Me and my Storyslingers co-mod are hoping to host a Short Story Slam in July, so we're starting to plan for that.

I hit 40k words on the steampunk novel recently, which I estimate to be about halfway through. It's good, solid progress, and that is fab. Also, things that I started to think weren't relevant and may end up being cut are now becoming relevant. Is this a part of my brain that's one step ahead of the rest? Could be, could be! Thank you, brain. I'm still mostly running on instinct, still finding it an enterprise of discovery and excitement. But there's always that tiny, niggling fear that I'll lose the plot or veer too far from my (shady) goal.

And a couple of weeks ago I discovered:

Wake You Up and Insect Flick, by Coven. A relatively new dubstep act, who I hope continue to bring out quality beats!
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Blah Blah Blah)
I just spent more time reading [ profile] fake_lj_deaths than I care to admit. I didn't plan on getting sucked in by the deluge of crazy that's been reported there over the years, but then, I say that about a lot of websites and blogs. The things people do, the lengths they go to—like it's really worth all the effort and all the lies. But still… it makes for some interesting, eye-opening reading. Kind of reminds me of the Msscribe fandom biography, although I doubt many fakery fiascos will ever match up to the sheer scale of that one. You may need to set aside a whole weekend, if you haven't already read it. (And on a side note, I do feel horrible for the people who genuinely get hurt, who are lied to and whose good will is taken advantage of. I'm not saying it's all hilarity. Most of it is just plain train-wreck reading.) I don't think any of us can be entirely true to ourselves online, even if we tried. It's a totally different format. But it's about how you present what you do show of yourself, right? Right.

Novel progress is goodstuffs. I've passed the quarter way mark—quarter way! Aaah!—and we're only halfway through January. [ profile] davidbcoe recently blogged at Magical Words about Writers and Ambition, and a lot of it resonated with me big time, especially given my current project:

"Creative ambition is what drives us to do things with our story that we’re not sure we’re capable of doing: deeply complex characters, complicated plot twists, non-linear narratives, exotic settings that require that extra round of research or brainstorming. In other words, it forces us to stretch as artists, to challenge ourselves, to risk failure by reaching for greatness."

This is exactly what I'm pushing for with the steampunk novel. At first I thought it was going to unfold in a certain way, but as I write I realise that I have the materials to do things I've never done before. The gamble is those things not working, but if I can't try it with a story like this, when can I? So, if the plot doesn't want to be linear (which it currently doesn't), I'll let it go and see what happens. If the world doesn't feel as rounded as it could, I'll research harder and bring out as many colours as I can. Right now, I'm more excited about it than terrified, though that's subject to change. *g*

And now that I have a shiny new PS3 slim (in limited edition silver, no less!), I've finally been able to finish Dragon Age II. Hurrah! As long as you don't treat it as a sequel to the epic, sprawling, plotty Dragon Age: Origins, it's a fairly entertaining game. You get to kill a lot of baddies. There are issues with uninspired backdrops and repetition, but there are a couple of nice cameos from DA:O characters. I can see why loads of fans didn't like it, but it's fun if you don't take it too seriously. I do hope DA3 will be better, though.

Dragon Age II Main Theme, by Inon Zur. You might like this if you're a fan of Hans Zimmer.
jenniferkoliver: (Spirited Away | Chihiro & Haku)
This is what I've been up to lately: a total revamp of my web design website! The older version was out of date and a few things had changed, plus some of links had died and I needed to decrease the amount of pages, so it was time to shake things up a bit. I got to implement a couple of new features on the site—namely an integrated Twitter feed on the footer, and a basic contact form on the contact page.

I should also note that I'm currently open to commissions, so if you're looking for an awesome, affordable website, drop me a line! But please remember to check the Services page first, as that's where I list everything available. Note, I'm still shady on WordPress design. It's something I'm gradually learning, but because of other work obligations it's a slower process.

I also design bespoke LiveJournal layouts for a reasonable fee!

Ok, enough with the shameless pimpage. I want to talk about a couple of shows and PS3 games I've caught up with recently. Will cut this for length: in which I nerd about Downton Abbey, Ouran High School Host Club , Supernatural, Red Dead Redemption, Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age 2 and Heavy Rain )

Phew! That is a lot of nerdstuffs. I need a sandwich.
jenniferkoliver: (FFVII | Sephiroth)
Took a little step back this past week so I could get some re-writing and polishing done on a couple of short stories, as well as continue to tap away at the Big WIP. One short piece is almost ready to go, and I'm feeling that nervous-squee I get just before submission time. The second story is a revision of a piece I wrote last summer that received helpful feedback from a couple of magazines. It wasn't quite there, you know? But I think it's tighter now, eight months on, and after one more round of beta reading it'll be ready to skate out into the wide world again.

I was thinking, sometimes it's really tempting to re-tweak and re-vamp a piece over and over. That's one of the downsides to progressing as a writer—you can get hung up on old stories. Do any of you read your older works, published or unpublished? I try not to. Otherwise, yeah. Obsession.

There's been much sorting out of the local writing group, too. We now have about 10 people interested in joining and it just keeps growing. At this rate we're going to have to hire out Wembley Stadium to fit everyone in. :)

I've also been sucked helplessly into the marvel that is Final Fantasy XIII on the PS3, a beautiful game packed with action, angst, and loads of weird monsters. Here is a trailer. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm on chapter 9 and already attached to a couple of the characters. I just hope this doesn't end up the same way Dragon Age Origins did—in the freezer, because I couldn't bear to let it end!
jenniferkoliver: (Foo Fighters | Learn to Fly)
Holy crap, it's been nearly a month since my last update. Crazy how time flies, ain't it?

I may have said it before, but it needs to be said again: the Playstation3 is evil. Evil, I tell you! I started playing Dragon Age: Origins one night and six hours later I couldn't remember my own name. [ profile] erastes, have you played DAO? I just... oh, God. It's so addictive. I have an arcane warrior elf mage (no kidding, new heights of nerditude have been reached in my house) who is now tanked with a multitude of kickass spells and armour. It's easy to see how people become gamers. What I like about DAO is how thought through the characters are, all of them different, both hilarious and tragic, and with their own ambiguous motivations. It's like a little soap opera, but one you can run around in and interact with. There's so much angst, but at times it makes me laugh, and there are many gorgeous poignant moments that leave me feeling throat lumpy. D'aw.

So lots of stuff to catch up on, not least of which is you guys. I hope everyone has been keeping themselves well and as happy as possible! I've been having fun designing a logo for the lovely [ profile] honeybean. It's always great working with people I know, and makes bouncing ideas back and forth an enriching experience while giving us the chance to catch up with each other. We're nearing completion on the project now, and I don't know what I'm going to do when it's finished.

Just about up to date with True Blood season 3. I keep waiting for it to peter out like a lot of these shows, but it just keeps getting better and better. Good times. Though damn, where has that hot werewolf gone?

But the best thing that's happened recently was me and a friend procuring Foo Fighters tickets for next year, in Milton Keynes on July 2nd – anyone else going to that? I CANNOT CONTAIN THE SQUEE! It's been 10 years since I last saw them live, they're my favourite band in the universe, and now I'll get to see their newer stuff in all its rocking glory. And I'll also get to worship at the Altar of Grohl once again. Eee! *runs around*

That's it for now. Wishing everyone well! Maybe soon I will be able to update about writing. It's been hard balancing everything lately, but I want to get that second short story re-written and polished before Xmas.


jenniferkoliver: (Default)
Jennifer K. Oliver

March 2017

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