Saturday, 26 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation - Intermission

Hello again, you wonderful person, you.

Just to let you know, I'll be taking a break from the Mass Effect Serialisation (MES). The 16 chapters I've done so far is over 28,000 words and I've put in as much time to write what I have as it would have taken to complete the game twice, maybe three times.

I started this project in December 2013, and it's been fun to write while I've been writing it, however I'm quite the Mass Effect lover - if you hadn't guessed that already - and doing this has stopped me from doing a clean play-through of the trilogy, which is something I last did in June/July 2013. To be perfectly's been too fucking long. In fact, even though I've been doing the MES, the closest I've felt to playing Mass Effect was downloading Shepard, Garrus, Wrex and Tali texture packs to replace Nick, Ellis, Coach and Rochelle respectively in Left 4 Dead 2, and then downloading husks to replace the common infected...yep.

I need to do a clean trilogy run...other games are enticing me for a while, like FTL or L4D2 and even jumping back into GTA5 for a bit, but nothing is grabbing my attention and I know why. Since Mass Effect 3 came out, I've done multiple trilogy runs. Paragon, Renegade, Paragade, Renegon, FemShep, ShepLoo, CustomShep, StraightShep, No Romance Shep, GayShep, etc etc, in other words, I go back time and time again to experience it all from start to finish, making subtle changes along the way to shape each experience as the tides shape the rocks on a beach.

This is the longest I've gone between play-through's and it's starting to show. It's almost like playing through the trilogy gives me fuel to then go on and play other things, and I'm not treating the MES like a normal trilogy run, but more like a working project; and as a working project, I'll need fuel to make it happen.

So that's it basically. I'm off to play Mass Effect, not work on it.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Child of Light

Good Hello There.

I was just perusing around the magnificent Steam Store while thinking of what to do, and I came across a game that is out on 30th April 2014. That game is Child of Light.

It drew me in with it's beautiful artwork, and after watching the following trailer I immediately added it to my Steam Wishlist so that when I can, I can easily find it again and purchase as a little gift from me, to me.

What struck me about it is that the game just looks stunningly beautiful. Not just that but it sounds beautiful and looks to be a mix of turn-based-RPG and platform with more than a sprinkle of JRPG added to the mix as well.

Here is the trailer, watch for yourself.

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but few games are. This however speaks to me as a gamer who appreciates good story and certain unique qualities which have to be played to truly be understood.

I hope that Child of Light delivers on both.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 16

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 16

Welcoming Liara

The team that Shepard had assembled, including the newly recruited Liara T’Soni were in the briefing room of the Normandy as they left Therum. They only had to travel to Noveria or Feros, but first they would have to return to the Citadel in order to brief Ambassador Udina in person, also so they could inform Admiral Kahoku of the fate of his marines on Edolus.

Shepard entered the briefing room, as Joker spoke to them through the comm.

“Too close, Commander. Ten more seconds and we’d have been swimming in molten sulphur. The Normandy isn’t equipped to land in exploding volcanoes. They tend to fry our sensors and melt our hull… Just for future reference.” Joker said sarcastically,

“We almsot died out there and your pilot is making jokes?” Liara said, very confused,

“Joker pulled our asses out of there. I think he’s earned the right to a few bad jokes.” Shepard explained,

“I see. It must be a human thing. I’m afraid I don’t have much experience dealing with your species, Commander.” Liara conceded. “But I am grateful to you. You saved my life back there. And not just from the volcano. Those geth would have killed me, or dragged me off to Saren.”

“What did Saren want with you? Do you know something about the Conduit?” Kaidan asked,

“Only that it was somehow connected to the Prothean extinction. That is my real area of expertise. I have spent the past fifty years trying to figure out what happened to them.” Liara said,

“How old are you, exactly?” Shepard asked, taken aback by her revelation of studying the prothean extinction longer than he’d been alive.

“I hate to admit it, but I am only a hundred and six.” She replied,

“Damn!” Ashley said, “I hope I look that good when I’m your age.”

“A century may seem like a long time to a short-lived species like yours. But among the asari, I am barely considered more than a child.” She said, clearly bitter that she’s still seen as a young girl to her peers. “That is why my research has not received the attention it deserves. Because of my youth, other asari scholars tend to dismiss my theories on what happened to the Protheans.”

“I’ve got my own theory on why the Protheans disappeared.” Shepard said with the knowledge from the beacon on Eden Prime bubbling just below the surface of his consciousness,

“With all due respect, Commander, I have heard every theory out there. The problem is finding evidence to support them. The Protheans left remarkably little behind.” Liara replied, “It is almost as if someone did not want the mystery solved. It’s like someone came along after the Protheans were gone and cleansed the galaxy of clues. But here is the incredible part. According to my findings, the Protheans were no the first galactic civilization to mysteriously vanish. This cycle began long before them.”

“Where’d you come up with this theory? I thought there wasn’t any evidence.” Shepard asked, intrigued by what Liara’s theory entailed.

“I have been working on this for fifty years. I have tracked down every scrap and shread of evidence. Eventually, subtle patterns start to emerge. Patterns that hint at the truth. It is difficult to explain to someone else. I cannot point to one specific thing to prove my case. It is more a feeling derived from a half-century of dedicated research.” Liara said with conviction, “But I know I’m right. And eventually, I will be able to prove it. There were other civilizations before the Protheans. This cycle has repeated itself many times over.”

“What cycle? What do you mean?” Shepard asked,

“The galaxy is built on a cycle of extinction. Each time a great civilization rises up, it is suddenly and violently cast down. Only ruins survive. The Protheans rose up from a single world until their empire spanned the entire galaxy.” Liara started to explain, clearly delighted to be able to talk in detail about the subject, “Yet even they climbed to the top on the remains of those who came before. Their greatest achievements – the mass relays and the Citadel – are based on the technology of those who came before them. And then, like all the other forgotten civilizations throughout galactic history, the Protheans disappeared. I have dedicated my life to figuring out why.”

“They were wiped out by a race of sentient machines. The Reapers.” Shepard revealed,

“The…the Reapers? But I have never heard of…How do you know this? What evidence do you have?” Liara said, with a mix of excitement and bemusement.

“There was a damaged Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. It burned a vision into my mind. I’m still trying to sort out what it all means.” Shepard said,

“Visions? Yes, that makes sense. The beacons were designed to transmit information directly into the mind of the user. Finding one that still works is extremely rare. It’s no wonder that the geth attacked Eden Prime. The chance to acquire a working beacon – even a badly damaged one – is worth almost any risk.” Liara said, gathering momentum, “But the beacons were only programmed to interact with Prothean physiology. Whatever information you received would have been confused, unclear. I am amazed you were able to make sense of it at all. A lesser mind would have been utterly destroyed by the process. You must be remarkably strong willed, Commander.”

“This isn’t helping us find Saren. Or the Conduit.” Ashley said, clearly irked by the attention Liara was giving Shepard.

“Of course, you’re right. I am sorry. My scientific curiosity got the better of me. Unfortunately, I do not have any information that could help you find the Conduit. Or Saren.” Liara said,

“I don’t know why Saren wanted you out of the picture. But I think we’ll be a lot better off if we bring you along with us.” Shepard said,

“Thank you, Commander.” Liara replied, standing to be next to Shepard, “Saren might come after me again. I cannot think of anywhere safer than here on your ship. And my knowledge of the Protheans may be of use to you later on.”

“And her biotics will come in handy when the fighting starts.” Wrex added with a grin,

“Well we’ve got every other non-human species on board, may as well add an asari to the list.” Shepard said, half-joking,

“Thank you, Commander. I am very gratef…whoa. I am afraid I’m feeling a little light-headed.” Liara said, losing her footing slightly,

“When was the last time you ate? Or slept?” Kaidan asked worried, “Dr Chakwas should take a look at you.”

“It is probably just mental exhaustion, coupled with the shock of finding out the Protheans’ true fate. I need some time to process all this.” Liara said, “Still, it could not hurt to be examined by a medical professional. It will give me the chance to think things over. Are we finished here Commander?”

“Go see the Doctor. The rest of you – dismissed.” Shepard said with his authoritative tone,

The team stood and left the briefing room, as they did, the comm crackled.

“Mission reports are filed, Commander. You want me to patch you through to the Council?” Joker asked through the comm.

“Patch them though, Joker.” Shepard said, as Joker did so. Almost immediately, the Council appeared in the briefing room as holograms.

“We’ve received your report, Commander. I understand Dr T’Soni is on the Normandy.” The Asari Councillor, Tevos, said,

“I assume you’re taking the necessary security precautions?” The Turian Councillor, Sparatus, added,

“Don’t tell me how to do my job.” Shepard said at Sparatus, annoyed at his assertion that he hadn’t considered Liara to be a threat,

“We are not trying to tell you how to carry out your job, Commander. We are merely here to offer advice and guidance.” Tevos intervened.

“It is up to you if you’re smart enough to listen.” Sparatus snapped at Shepard. At that, Shepard decided he’d heard enough from the turian.

“I don’t need this.” He said gruffly and more than a little tired, as he disconnected the link.

“Communications cut, Commander.” Joker chuckled over the comm. Shepard, stood for a moment, gathering his thoughts. He decided to go and see Liara in the Med Bay to check up on her, she had been through quite an ordeal on Therum, and wanted to see that she was alright.

Shepard went down to the Med Bay and saw that Dr Chakwas had finished with Liara, and that Liara had set herself up in the Med Bay’s back room, he approached her to talk. She was sat at a desk, and heard him enter. She immediately stood to face him and looked at him with her big doe-like eyes.

“Commander, have you come to check on me?” she asked,

“Yes, you seem to be doing well now. Is everything alright?” Shepard replied,

“Dr Chakwas assures me I’m going to be fine. I was impressed with her knowledge of asari physiology.” Liara replied, gratefully.

“She knows what she’s doing, you’re in good hands.” Shepard said,

“I never properly thanked you for saving me from the geth, if you hadn’t showed up when you did…” Liara said before Shepard cut her off,

“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad we got there in time.” He said,

“Thank you. And thank you for taking a chance on me. I have seen the way the crew look at me – they do not trust me. But I am not like Benezia. I will do whatever I can to help you stop Saren. I promise.” Liara said, determined to prove her worth and her loyalty.

“Don’t worry Liara, I know you will. I trust you.” Shepard said, reassuringly.

“It means a lot to hear you say that, thank you Commander.” Liara said with a coy smile.

“Tell me about yourself Liara, I’d like to know more about you.” Shepard said, genuinely wanting to know more about his team as he had done with the others he’d picked up.

“I’m afraid I’m not very interesting, Commander. I spend most of my time on remote digs, unearthing mundane objects from long-forgotten prothean ruins.” She said, again coyly,

“You must enjoy something about what you do.” Shepard said,

“I enjoy finding things that haven’t been touched for millennia, and anything to do with the protheans. To know that you were touched by actual working prothean technology – it’s why I find you so fascinating.” Liara said,

“Sounds like you want to dissect me in a lab.” Shepard joked,

“Oh my! That’s not what I meant!” Liara said, obviously upset at the thought, “I never meant for you to think that. All I meant was that you would be an interesting case-study for…No! Wait, I mean…” Liara started to fumble over every word she said, she wasn’t used to human humour,

“I was only joking Liara! It’s OK.” Shepard said, reassuring her that she’d said nothing wrong.

“Joking? By the goddess, you must think I’m so dense.” Liara said, holding her forehead, in embarrassment “Now you can see why I prefer to spend my time on remote digs with computers and data discs. Please, just pretend this conversation never happened,”

“I should go, I’ll catch up with you soon Liara.” Shepard said as he left the Med Bay to return to the CIC.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Mass Effect Serialisation – Chapter 15

Liara T’Soni, I Presume?

Shepard, Kaidan and Wrex entered the mine-come-dig-site, and started down the long shaft to a large open cavern below. As they neared the end of the sloping shaft, they spotted a geth. It was taken down swiftly by the group, and they advanced onto a makeshift metal walkway around the rocky cavern.

As they walked around it, they saw a large white wall with a blue force-field blocking entry to the area behind it. It was old, almost certainly of Prothean origin, and a testament to their engineering capabilities that it was all still functioning 50,000 years after its construction. Nearby there was an elevator, and since there was nowhere to go but down, that’s where they went.

When they reached the lowest point of their elevator, they found themselves on another metal walkway leading to another elevator in front of another large white wall with a force-field embedded in it. They started to walk towards it, and a small group of geth drones rose from below, firing precisely towards the three of them. They were dispatched with quickly, and Shepard brushed some fragments of armour from his shoulder that had been damaged by the flying geth. After looking again for potential threats, they entered the second elevator and again descended.

As the elevator neared the bottom of the cavern, it started to grind and fizz with sparks. It was heavily damaged and the metal walkway below them was also damaged in places beyond repair. The elevator grind to a halt about 5 feet from the walkway, so they forced the doors open and jumped down.

They walked along a small part of the walkway, and jumped down to the section below through a hole that presumably had been blown apart by the geth. That’s when they heard a youthful sounding, female voice.

“Hello? Is anybody out there?” it called out.

They walked towards the voice and that’s when they first saw her. Dr Liara T’Soni. She was trapped behind the Prothean force field, and also in some kind of security bubble.

She called out again, in a panicked and desperate tone.

“Can you hear me out there? I’m trapped, I need help!”

“Liara T’Soni, I Presume?” Shepard said wryly, his reference to Dr Livingstone and Henry Stanley completely bypassing Wrex.

“Listen. This thing I am in is a Prothean security device. I cannot move, so I need you to get me out of it. All right?” Liara said, her composure returning at the sight of people as opposed to geth.

“How did you get trapped in there?” Shepard asked,

“I was exploring these ruins when the geth showed up, so I hid in here. Can you believe that? Geth! Beyond the Veil!” she said with genuine surprise. “I activated the tower’s defences. I knew the barrier curtains would keep them out. When I turned it on, I must’ve hit something I wasn’t supposed to. I was trapped in here. You must get me out. Please.”

“Your mother is working with Saren. Whose side are you on?” Shepard asked, cutting to the chase – and wanting to find out if he would be recruiting or arresting her once she was freed.

“What? I am not on anybody’s side!” she said, with disdain, “I may be Benezia’s daughter, but I’m nothing like her! I have not spoken to her in years. Please, just get me out of here.”

Shepard believed her. He didn’t know what it was about Dr T’Soni, but he just knew she was someone he could trust. There was an almost child-like innocence about her, and her shock at seeing the geth outside of the Perseus Veil was nothing short of genuine.

“We’ll get you out of there.” Shepard said confidently.

“Be careful, there is a krogan with the geth. They have been trying various ways of getting past the barrier curtain with no success. The curtains can only be deactivated on this side, so you’ll have to find some way past them.” She said, all the time willing them to find something.

Shepard nodded his head and the trio turned around, they knew there were multiple geth units and now knew there was a krogan of all things here as well. They went along the intact walkway to find a large open space with the remnants of the archaeologist’s camp swarming with geth – but no sign of the krogan.

They decided to take out as many of them as possible from the walkway, as they had pretty decent cover and the high ground. Shepard took out his sniper rifle, and told the other two to cover him while he took the geth out. This tactic worked well and before long the geth in the camp were all destroyed.

After looking around the site, they found a large mining laser, it had been deactivated and locked down with Alliance encryption. It was more likely that the geth hadn’t tried to use it, as their hacking skills would have easily bypassed the encryption on the laser. Shepard walked over to it, and activated it after going through the Alliance locks. The mining laser immediately turned on and blasted a large hole through the ground and into a level below Liara. The crashing walls and rubble around it was immense, and almost straight away after the laser finished burning through, the ground beneath their feet started to shake. Shepard and the others ran through into the prothean structure and activated a lift in its central shaft up to the level Liara was on.

Liara was still suspended in the bubble, and must have been oblivious to the commotion caused by the mining laser.

“How…how did you get through? I thought there was no way past the barrier!” she exclaimed,

“We blasted through with the mining laser.” Shepard replied shortly,

“Please, get me out of here before more geth arrive. That console over there should shut down the containment field.” Liara said. Shepard walked over to the console that Liara had nodded to, and shut down the field. She landed with a bump, got to her feet and brushed herself off.

“There is an elevator back in the centre of the tower. At least, I think it’s an elevator. It should take us out of here, we’d better go!” she said pleadingly, she was obviously a bit nervous, and was not strong enough to take on any geth.

The four of them walked over to the elevator-platform, and were about to activate it, Liara spoke up again.

“I still cannot believe all of this. Why would the geth come after me? Do you think Benezia is involved?” she asked, trying to put the pieces together.

“Saren’s looking for the Conduit. You’re a prothean expert. Obviously he wants you to help him find it.” Kaidan replied.

“The Conduit?” Liara replied, puzzled, “But I don’t know…” she was cut off by a loud rumbling and everything shaking, it was as if they were at the epicentre of an earthquake.

“What the hell was that?” Wrex asked in his usual candid manner. The four of them looked around the tower that they stood in, as if to expect it to topple around them.

“These ruins aren’t stable. That mining laser must have triggered a seismic event.” She said, having been at the dig site for a while before the geth showed up, it was safe to say that she knew about how far they could push the mining laser before it could trigger something like this. “We have to hurry. The whole place it caving in!” she said with urgency as she went to the elevator’s console to send it up, all the while, the shaking and rumbling continued. Shepard, activated his comm to the Normandy to get an evac.

“Joker! Get the Normandy airborne and lock in on my signal. On the double, mister!” he yelled down the comm.

“Aye, aye, Commander. Secure and aweigh, ETA 7 minutes.” He replied as the comm cut off.

“That’s not much margin for error,” Kaidan said, cautiously,

“If we die in here, I’ll kill him.” Wrex said in a much more uncouth way.

The elevator started to ascend, all the while the four thinking it could stop, or fall at any point. Their luck was in for now, it carried on going up and got to the top level where they could make their escape.

As the elevator stopped, they were greeted by a squad of geth troops, headed by a krogan battlemaster. They marched towards them, blocking the only exit. They didn’t fire, which suggested they wanted Liara alive. Shepard motioned to the others to hold fire for the moment, to see what would unfold. The krogan battlemaster spoke to them briefly,

“Surrender. Or don’t, that would be more fun.” He said, with a slightly perverse smile on his face, he wanted the bloodshed.

“We don’t have time to deal with this idiot. Charge!” Shepard shouted, as the others drew their weapons.

“Ha! I like your attitude.” The krogan said, as he too drew his shotgun. Wrex took on the battlemaster himself, knowing that he would be more than a match for the other krogan. Shepard told Kaidan to stick with Liara and cover her, he didn’t want her hurt or killed before they could find out what she knew. Shepard ran up the slope of the elevator-platform and took out the 2 geth guarding the exit in 2 quick blasts from his assault rifle to the head, one of the other geth had followed the battlemaster and set up a shield, Kaidan used his tech overload on it and it was gone as quickly as it had been set up, Shepard then sprinted towards it and barged it down to the floor with the butt of his rifle, before unloading a few rounds into its chest. The last geth had gone around the other side of the elevator and was quickly taken out by Wrex with one blast from his shotgun, and near point-blank range.

The battlemaster however was still standing after tussling with Wrex for a moment, and Shepard went behind him while the battlemaster was still concentrating on Wrex. Shepard fired his assault rifle into him until his gun overheated, it proved to be more than enough as the battlemaster fell to the floor in a heap.

With that they all ran to the exit, however it was still blocked off by the large barrier curtains. Everything around them was shaking even more than before, it’s possible that the gunfight had only served to make things worse. They frantically looked around the barrier for some way through it, or for a console, but there was nothing to be found. Another large reverberation shook everything around them, it was the largest shake yet, and the barrier flickered before deactivating. The seismic activity had cut all the power from the prothean tower, and they had just been granted their escape.

Shepard made sure the other 3 ran out before him, pushing them past him shouting at them to run. They all started running up round their metal walkway that they had come in on, as rocks and boulders started falling in the massive cavern around them. They would have to be fast but they would have to rely on one last bit of luck. As they ran around the walkway to the exit, they were constantly bombarded my small rocks and stones, the occasional large rock flying past them to the bottom of the dig site. As they neared the exit, an enormous boulder fell onto the walkway behind them, and it started to be ripped from its supports. The four of them reached the dig site’s exit shaft, so they would not have to rely on the walkway, they made their final sprint up the shaft as it all started to collapse around them. As the dig site was disintegrating behind them, it created a massive black cloud of hot debris, it was starting to seem more likely that the dig site was not just inside a rocky hill, but a formerly inactive volcano. The scalding hot cloud was catching up fast with Shepard as the other three had made it out.

Shepard was running on adrenaline and fear of being cooked alive, as the black cloud caught up with, and enveloped him. The others were catching their breath on the ramp outside the dig site’s entrance, looking up to the door to see if Shepard had made it. A massive burst of debris and dust shot out of the entrance, and in amongst it was Shepard. He ran out and bent over double, coughing and spluttering. Just as he made it out, the Normandy hovered overhead, just in time to pick them up before any lava started to spew from the site.