Thursday, 30 June 2016

June favourites 2016

A third of summer gone already! And this was the nice third. Oh, well, bring on the other two...

Books: I thought I'd manage to complete the set of books I started reading at the end of last month by now, but things have gotten in the way and so I haven't. I'll probably be done in a couple of days, though. And until then I'll keep it a surprise. Let's just say, for now, that they are really amazing!

Music: So last month when I had loaded my iPod with Sweden Rock music, I totally fell for Lordi again. So for June I loaded my iPod with music from my teen years. And you can bet I fell for Avril and Simple Plan again. But a few other groups from my teen years made it on the list as well.
• Avril Lavigne - "Here's To Never Growing Up" & "Give You What You Like"

• Simple Plan - "Outta My System" & "Freaking Me Out"

• Within Temptation - "Grenade" & Nightwish - "Dark Chest of Wonders"

• Panic! At the Disco - "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" & "There's a Good Reason..."

• Simple Plan - "Rest of Us" & Avril Lavigne - "Bad Girl"

Games: What have I been playing this month? A short trip in ESO, the Fallout 4 DLCs and Portal 2. Out of them I have to say Fallout 4. Or more specifically Far Harbor.

TV shows: Hmm, it's been Twin Peaks, 7th Heaven and Charmed this month. As well as catching up on Once Upon a Time and Agents of Shield, as well ass watching Game of Thrones every week. Difficult choice. But Game of Thrones wins with Twin Peaks at a close second.

Other: Sweden Rock was this month! I also did a short work course to be able to log more hours, which I'm really looking forward to (though I'm a bit nervous about doing the new things on my own later). Then there was Midsummer last weekend, which I couldn't really do anything about because we were both working all of that weekend. All I did was buy us some strawberries ^^

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Dealing with backlog: Portal & Portal 2

Yes, I know I'm the last one to the party here. I bought these two games on the Steam Summer Sale in 2013 :P The backlog sort of piles up when you're stuck on three games (ESO, Skyrim, DA:I). But I decided to pull myself together and do something about my backlog. It will probably take the rest of the year, but whatever. I've done a list, and I'm playing the games in that order (and I added some Skyrim quest mods into the mix as well).

Before I go into (short) detail about the two games separately I'll tell you my general feeling of them. I love the story based things. Like the first few test chambers in the first game which gives you a feel of Aperture, and then the ones in the end where GLaDOS turns on you, and the final battle. In Portal 2 they are the beginning when you wake up after being asleep for a reeaaally long time, then when you get GLaDOS back online, when Wheatley finally starts the escape, when Wheatley becomes corrupted, when GLaDOS is made into a potato battery... You get it... The funny things that are part of the story. But the test chambers in-between those moments just feel like fillers to me, and they got repetitive. Sure, I died a lot, and several times I had no clue what to do, so it's not like I just breezed through any of the games and was bored by the tests. They just became too many, you know? And not with enough variation to remain interesting. They just became a hurdle to get over so I could get to the next interesting part - the story.

The first Portal was very linear and between the original introduction and the point when GLaDOS tries to kill you in the incinerator nothing much happens. You do the tests and listen to GLaDOS's sarcastic humor and mean comments, the further you get the meaner she gets and it got pretty obvious waaaaaay before the revelation that she was the bad guy, and then it was just doing-as-you-were-told and waiting-for-something-to-happen. Except for feeling very bad about it when I dropped a companion cube into the incinerator after GLaDOS instructed me to, nothing memorable really happened before Escape time. The boss fight was cool, though. The ending scene had me really confused at first, because when you see the player character being dragged away and hearing the mechanical sounds I thought that my character had been an android or something all along and that the mechanical sounds was herself dragging her away from the explosion. It wasn't until I started Portal 2 that I realised that she had actually been dragged away by a robot and put back into Aperture.
Portal 2 was a lot better than the first game. I loved waking up and realising that all hell had broke loose. Wheatley as a companion was a lot of fun (he was admittedly a lot of fun as the bad guy too). And then when we got to GLaDOS's chamber and noticed her lying there (while Wheatley was telling the story of how some human killed her) and all I could think was "she's gonna wake up" - which she did and revealed that I had been the one to kill her. Nice. There was a lot of running for a while and then we were back to going through test chambers... Yay -.- Got back to GLaDOS's lair and defeated her by replacing her head with Wheatley. Fantastic! Except that the machine corrupted Wheatley so he became the bad guy instead. He makes GLaDOS into a potato battery (hilarious) and then he dumps us both waaaaaay below ground, which seems to be the old Aperture from the 50s and then we keep moving through the place seeing the technology advance until we're back up and chasing after Wheatley. I was hoping that we'd just be going through ducts and old broken things, and some security measures that were inexplicably still active. But nope! More test chambers! -.- And there were more of them in old, derelict Aperture, than in current, shiny Aperture... But as soon as we managed to get back up to the current Aperture, the story stuff started again (the only thing interesting in old Aperture was learning that GLaDOS had once been human) and the game got interesting again. I was waiting for a boss battle against Wheatley, but first - test chambers! -.- The boss battle was really cool, though :) I love the Space Core ♥ Getting kicked out of Aperture for being too hard to kill was fun, and then my poor burned and beaten companion cube was kicked out after me. I think it's the same one I tossed in the incinerator in the first game? :o
So yeah, totally worth playing, but I'm not as excited about it as I thought I'd be. Everyone I've ever talked to about Portal has praised it, but while I loved the story I found the test chambers a bit too much. Too much of the same thing, just in different angles. And yes, they had me stumped several times, but they were still too many and still too repetitive. So yeah, they were ok games.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Fallout 4 DLCs: Automatron, Far Harbor and Wasteland Workshop (+ the other endings of base game)

Yesterday I completed my second round of Fallout 4. I'm one of those people who tend to play one game at a time. After I previously completed the base game story I stopped playing it. In the last days of May I picked it up again to play the DLCs.

I started with Automatron because it was released first. Sad to say it didn't really leave an impression. It was too short. It was fun to see the Mechanist again (though I really doubt it was the same person as in FO3) and the reveal at the end of the DLC was unexpected, but other than that it didn't give me much of an impression. The inclusion of Robo-brains was fun, I guess, but when they said robots I expected something like the Old World Blues DLC for New Vegas. I wanted something totally out-there, like the robots were in OWB. I wanted Bethesda to show me that they could be crazy fun without out-sourcing it :P Jezebel was the closest I got to OWB, and even that hit very far from home. So you could say I was a bit disappointed with this DLC.

Afterwards I continued with Far Harbor. Now we're talking! This was really good and even made me question whether my SS really was a human or had been a synth all along. The story starts as a case for Nick Valentine, but evolves into a power struggle of a piece of land submerged in deadly fog (why would you fight so hard over this place?) between three groups: the Children of Atom, the synths of Acadia, and the people of Far Harbor. What I really liked about Far Harbor was that the story was complex, with several layers and several possible outcomes. I chose the most peaceful one, where no one (well, almost no one) had to die and no faction was destroyed. And although I was initially suspicious of DiMA, the ancient synth who led Acadia, my emotions changed to affection and wanting to protect after I learned what was in his locked away memories (that was a really cool quest btw) and seeing his own reactions to what he had done. This DLC was really good :) Though the foggy light was really weird, especially during sunset and sunrise and radiation storms. The light got so weird it made it hard to see properly.

On a side note, there was a side quest in this DLC that finally gave me the crazy Robo-brains that I wanted in Automatron. And also the crazy Vaults that I had been missing in base game. Double bonus!
 1). The Mechanist in Fallout 3. 2). Hermit Crab in Far Harbor. 3). Feral ghouls watching a movie that's been playing for 200 years. 4). Welcome to Atom. 5). DiMA ♥ 6). Nick telling it as it is

After completing Far Harbor I decided to gain the three achievements that came with Wasteland Workshop. I'm not at all crazy about the settlements or the workshop/building thing. Mostly I think the mechanics of the whole thing are annoying and that Bethesda should take a look at build mode in The Sims before designing any new building games. You want this wall at a 90 degrees angle? Too bad! It's gonna click together to a straight line! You have to choose an actual corner-wall (with lots of crap on it I just want a plain old wall you stupid f***) if you want a 90 degrees angle. Also, things will 99,9% of the time be floating in the air and not actually standing on the ground, although it looks like it's on the ground from the angle you're standing when you're building, so when you move after completing the thing you have to redo the thing because it's actually in the air and not on the ground. Are you f****** kidding me?!

But the three achievements were relatively easy to get. I had been a good player and completely upgraded the perk Strong Back so I could fast-travel and run while being over-encumbered. So I had collected every single collectable thing from every location ever. So I had the mats. The first achi was to build one of every cage. Done. The other two was to stage a spectated arena match, and to have five tamed creatures in one settlement. I struggled with the tamed creatures. Mostly because I wanted one of each, but although the creatures weren't hostile to my settlers or me they were still hostile to each other so they kept killing each other. Looked it up and it said I had to have creatures that are not naturally hostile to each other, and that the easiest would be to have five of the same kind. Alright. I decided to collect five deathclaws. While waiting for the deathclaws to be trapped in my cages I decided to stage the arena match, but I struggled again. I assigned random settlers for it, but they died too quickly and it didn't come up as spectated although I had built the quitting time siren. Read up on it and discovered that I hadn't actually turned the siren on ^^; and that it was better with companions because they couldn't die so the match would keep going long enough to become spectated. I saved before assigning Nick and Strong to their spots. At this point I had three deathclaws in my settlement. The achievement popped almost immediately, but strangely enough the deathclaws became hostile to Strong when he was fighting Nick in the arena, and I didn't want Strong to eventually kill my hard-earned deathclaws so I reloaded my save from before the arena. Didn't bother to redo the thing. The achievment had popped so I no longer needed the arena. Soon after I got my next two deathclaws and the last achievement popped ^^  While I was doing building stuff I decided to get the achievement for 100% happiness as well, while I was at it. I followed this guide, and chose the easy path - a settlement with only one settler. I realised that it worked as I watched the happiness slowly increase from 80 to 91. Then I got tired of waiting and used console commands to get to 99 so I only had to wait for that one last point :P

When I had recieved those achievements I decided that it was time to reload my old saves and discover the other endings to the base game. In my original run I had sided with the Railroad and seen it through to the end. I had created separate save files at critical points so I could go back and choose another path without having to play through the entire game again. I started with The Institute. I followed their path and was heartbroken when I was sent to kill the Railroad. The fight against the Brotherhood of Steel didn't impact me much. Being back at the Intistute made me remember how I always felt weepy when talking to Shaun. It's so unfair. Being with Shaun when he died was so sad, but it felt so redeeming after killing a dying man when I was siding with the Railroad.

Then I went to do the Brotherhood of Steel line. That took a lot longer. I had been spoiled that Danse was a synth so that reveal wasn't very shocking, but that quest was still amazing, and I'm so glad that I managed to get Danse out of that pickle alive. And then I awakened Liberty Prime. Walking alongside Liberty Prime and protecting him while getting him to the target felt incredibly nostalgic. That scene was taken from Fallout 3 and Liberty Prime is still so cool ♥ I still felt horrible that Shaun became a casualty in taking down the Institute, but the quest to destroy the Institute still felt awesome (same in BoS line as in RR line). While I maintain that the Railroad is the faction I like the best, the Brotherhood of Steel had the most amazing quest line and if I ever do another complete playthrough of FO4 I'll go full-out BoS. Danse quickly became my third favourite companion (he eclipsed Deacon and Cait) and I wanted to romance him but after his big reveal and the completion of the BoS quest line that didn't work - even with console commands. So I looked up his romance on Youtube and that only endeared him to me more.
 Liberty Prime in Fallout 3 versus Liberty Prime in Fallout 4

On a side note, when I picked up the game again I realised how incredibly sick I was of the songs on the radio so I permanently turned the radio off xD But here are the two I really like for good measure. The first one also makes me mega-nostalgic for Fallout 3 ♥

Monday, 13 June 2016

Sweden Rock Festival 2016

At 7.30 am on Tuesday morning me, Toni, R and F packed ourselves into R's car and started moving south. At around 2pm we arrived at Sweden Rock Festival and about 2.45 our camp was up and running. Same spot as previous years, but this year we were originally four people short. That changed during the second day when three new people moved in with us - so next year we will be the original four we were missing, plus the new three from this year, plus, hopefully, a friend of mine. Already looking forward to next year xD

Wednesday was mostly spent in the camp, until midnight when we went inside the festival area to see Blind Guardian. I don't know many of their songs, and most of the time they sounded like power metal. Bland, straight-up power metal where every song sounded the same. All I wanted to hear was Valhalla and Bard's Song. And of course they were among the final three songs xD The audience worked their hardest to match the video of Valhalla. I don't think we quite succeeded, but it felt epic. After the concert we went to bed, and tried to sleep, while we heard F running around the entire camp screamingly coaxing everyone into fights.

Thursday was a really cool day :D At 12 we went inside to see Lordi. It was amazing, just as I expected. I even started crying when they started playing Blood Red Sandman, and I have no friggin idea why xD I missed the fake blood and the pyrotechnics from the previous two times that I've seen them. But pyrotechnics wouldn't have made much of an impact during a concert in the middle of broad daylight (why would you set Lordi up to play at noon?! ffs). Immediately after Lordi we moved across the area to the smallest outdoor stage to see The Struts. They are very new, but so very very very promising. Their live was amazing. And immediately after The Struts we went back across the area to see Sixx:A.M.. They were incredible. (And their guitarist made for good eye candy). And just as we expected we were in for more tears when they played Skin. But that's more due to the song, than anything else. I can't listen to Skin without crying. Impossible. After Sixx:A.M. we went back to the camp and spent the evening there. At 10pm we went back to the area to see Queen. I was sort of out of it by then. I remember us getting there, and I remember us leaving, but I don't remember Queen. Amazing job, me! I was looking forward to Queen! -.-' I had originally planned to see Soilwork after Queen, but it was freezing cold out and I was too out of it. (And I had seen them three or four times before). So instead we had some food and then went to sleep.

On Friday I only had two definite concerts planned, and two maybes. In the end I decided to skip the maybes and focus on the definite one; Twisted Sister and Avantasia. Problem was that Twisted Sister played at the same time as Satyricon, and Toni would rather watch Satyricon than Sister. I wouldn't miss Sister for the world. Their farewell tour? No way I'd miss it! I planned on going with one of the new members of the camp, but she hooked up with one of the guys and I really didn't feel like third-wheeling them all night :P So instead I went with F to Twisted Sister. It was amazing! Dee Snider is a fantastic front man. We laughed so much at his MCing antics, and the hit songs were epic. We're not gonna take it, most of all. The Twisted Sister concert ended with a 25th anniversary celebration for the festival. Afterwards we went to see Avantasia, but we only stayed for four songs. The freezing night in combination with really having to pee made us leave the concert early. Tobi was amazing as per usual though ♥ I was told later that the concert was cut short, and that they didn't get to play their last song, and that the sound was all over the place. I noticed the sound a bit before we left. It was very jumpy. One thing that really stood out to me, though, was how the other singers looked like they might explode when they tried to sing really hard. While Tobi just effortlessly waltzed around and still singing explosively. Tobi, Tobi, Tobi ♥

On Saturday it was only one concert that interested me, and it was once again after 10pm. Our designated driver left early in the day. F was supposed to drive us home on Sunday, but he got an alternate way home and took it (understandably since he had work on Monday and wanted to spend some time at home before going away for work). The rest of us continued on. In the evening we went to see Sabaton, which was really cool, especially En livstid i krig. I don't listen much to Sabaton, but I feel like it's time to start. Usually a concert of a band from which you only know one or two songs takes an eternity, but with Sabaton it went by so very quickly. You guys are amazing, why didn't I see that before? :o

On Sunday we packed up camp and packed us into the car. Then R went to blow inside a breathalyzer, which proved he wouldn't be fit to drive for another 12 hours at least. Which made me our last hope of getting home. So I went to do the same. Came back with a 0, so let's get on the road. I was incredibly tired though, and after about halfway I noticed my reactions started getting sluggish. Damn. We stopped at a tavern and had dinner. It was next to a gas station with a shop where I bought coffee, energy drink, and sweets. Food, caffeine, and sugar! That ought to keep me awake for the last two hours. And it did. The last two hours went really well. When we got home we showered (best thing ever after not showering for a week) and unpacked. Then I went to bed. It was around 10.30pm by then, and then I woke up around 1pm today.

Evolution of the camp this year:

See you next year! ♥

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ten years of running away

It's not to the day yet, but I figured I could be a little bit early. This month I celebrate 10 years of running away, or rather getting away. June 2006 was a big month for me. It was graduation time from Secondary. I was moving on to college in a new city where I knew no one, and after that university in yet another city. 

I grew up in a place that I hated. A small village (but the biggest place in the municipality) of less than 10,000 people. A thoroughly white place, where the most exciting far-away immigrants came from Poland. Thoroughly Swedish and thoroughly mainstream. If you didn't fit in the mainstream you got cut out, and I didn't fit. I had already been bullied for 6 years when I, at 13, decided to pick up studs, leather, black clothes, black make-up, purple hair, and hard rock/heavy metal. This didn't help my situation, because that made me even more of a freak. At 14 I hit rock bottom and while I was too afraid to die (I had contemplated that since I was 10), I made one single decision to cut. But the knife I found was too blunt to cut through my skin - and that was the only time I tried. After that I decided to suck it up. I moved through school like a ghost and when I came home I retreated into my favourite fantasy worlds at the time (Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Belgariad). I didn't live. I existed. I wasn't happy. I was apathic. I could spend hours just lying in bed staring up at the ceiling doing nothing. When graduation day came I didn't cry. I smiled like a fool. I couldn't stop smiling, and my only thought was "I'm free". That was June 2006. 
In August I started college, in the nearby city. I still lived in the small village, but I could spend most of my days away from there, which suited me perfectly. I had promised myself that starting college would be a new beginning for me, and true to my word I told my new mentor my entire story at our first meeting. I had never told my story to anyone. Not even my parents. I still don't think they knew how bad it was. I think they noticed I wasn't exactly happy, but I don't think they knew to what extent. I quickly got friends in my new class, and after being used to cliques and an outcast that didn't exactly fit in any clique, my new class was refreshing and absolutely amazing. Although we all had our preferred groups of friends, we could all talk and all hang-out together, all 32 of us. There was drama, of course, but generally it was amazing. Those 32 people made it fun to come to school and this time I cried on graduation. In 2009 I graduated college with 21,23 total points out of 22,5. I got a stipend as Language Student of the Year, by getting top grades in all my four languages through all three years. I still had my bouts with apathy and general sadness, but overall I was happier in 2009 than in 2006. I still lived in the village, though. 

In September 2009 I started studying Japanese at the university. That class soon became my favourite ever. Studying Japanese in 2009 (when the interest in Japanese pop culture in Sweden still was peaking) meant that the whole class was packed with nerds and weeaboos. It was perfect. In January 2010 I enrolled in the next course of Japanese, but instead of studying (participation isn't necessary if you pass your exams) I went to Tokyo for an almost four month long language course, and it was the best time of my life. I then returned to Sweden, passed my exam in the Japanese course and then decided that it was time to get serious in life. Biggest mistake ever. I started studying at the Economics program, which would eventually lead to a Masters degree, serious life stuff. I quit after two months. After two months of stressful reading, and lots of math that I couldn't understand I came to a crossroads - quit or break down. I quit. Along with the math and the economic formulas I also didn't fit in among the proper people studying Economics, which helped destroy my motivation and contributed to me crying every night because I couldn't get the contents of the literature inside my head quickly enough. I then went on to study French, and while I like the language I hate the culture, and while my Japanese class had consisted of mostly nerds my French class was all proper like the Economics program. So I didn't fit. I hated not fitting in

During my first term of French I moved out from my parents and that's when I finally left the village. I still had to come back to visit my parents of course, and while I didn't mind visiting them I hated being back in the village. I was still afraid that I'd see my past tormentors and they'd throw some slur at me like 5 years hadn't passed since we graduated Secondary. I had no hope that they had grown up during those 5 years. I still expected the same idiotic teenagers. 
I studied three terms of French, and then went back to Japanese. The ones I had started with back in 2009 were now my senpai. But it felt wonderful being back among the nerds. I felt like I belonged again. Nerdville. That's me. I graduated from university in late May 2013. In September the same year I moved north. 372 miles (600 km) north to where I live now. And now I'm starting to reconcile my past. I still visit my parents, of course, but I don't hate the village anymore. I've started seeing past the bad memories and the pain is fading. Without the pain hovering over me, I'm starting to see all the good memories, and without the pain there I realise that there was a lot of good times too. Now I visit my old village with a sort of bittersweet nostalgic feeling, and I've regained enough confidence and self-respect to not fear my old tormentors anymore. Heck, I wouldn't even care if my old fear came true and one of them threw slurs at me again. I'm over it. Life got better. Life got great. 

From a 15 year old girl who was convinced no one would even look twice at her, to a 25 year old in a 4 year relationship with a wonderful guy. From a 15 year old who never thought she'd get away to a 25 year old living 372 miles away and doing a job she really likes. Life got great and my past can suck it. To anyone reading this who's currently living in a situation similar to mine 12 years ago; life does get better. Truly. Make sure you're here to see it.