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Games Created by Women: Portal

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Hello readers and welcome to Aperture Science, where absolutely nothing is wrong. In this article, everything will be perfectly safe. Maybe there will even be cake for you at the end!

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Portal is a single player game. The player finds themselves in Aperture Science Laboratories. At Aperture, scientists have been working to create a special kind of gun that creates portals. Players must listen to the announcements for updates and information throughout the game. The story of what happened to the labs, and why you are now running around with a gun that creates portals will also be revealed throughout the game.

Portal was designed by Kim Swift. Kim is one of the creative directors at Airtight Games. She is also a speaker. Kim is looking to expand her repertoire with her website. It features doodles and her opinions. Her creativity is a gift to the gaming community.   

Portal was released on October 10, 2007. Players are able to take advantage of the innovative nature of gameplay that Portal provides. Puzzles are the keys to winning the game. This style of gameplay has been one of the things that players enjoy most about the Portal games. They are able to find creative ways to win while they try to make it through the labs.

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Portal is a multi-award winning game. This is not surprising with the success of the franchise. The game forces players to look for different solutions to reach the end of the game. It was a refreshing form of gameplay when it came out. The game is also highly entertaining.

If you are looking for a fun game that will challenge you then you should give Portal a try. It has interesting graphics. The style of the game also helps to immerse the player in the story.

Portal is a fun and challenging game that fans have been wild about since it first came out.

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Dungeon Crawling: Barbarians

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Lords, Ladies, lads, and lassies it is time to rage. Barbarians have always been the meat-shields that protect the squishies. They’re big, tough, and fuel their battlefield expertise with Rage. Often played as dumb for the sake of humor, most of us have a stereotype in mind when we hear someone at our table has brought a Barbarian. Within the books of 5th edition D&D, however, things are not so cut and dry.

In the beginning, you’re a low level beast. The main feature of the class is Rage. This ability grants you advantage on strength checks, a bonus to melee damage, and toughens you up with a resistance to the basic three types of physical damage. Add to this the ability to stack your constitution modifier on top of your dexterity for unarmored armor class, and you’ve got someone who’s meant to take hits on the chin and keep going.

As you level up, your combat prowess increases. You can attack recklessly, gaining advantage against your opponents while leaving yourself open. As the meat-shield, this is perfect for protecting the rest of the party. You also develop a danger sense helping you face traps and spells that rely on you moving out of the way. Further on down the line, you get another attack, faster movement, better initiative rolls, better critical hits, and eventually physical stats that surpass the norm.

That’s all gravy, though. The real meat of the class is within your chosen subclass. The Berserker and Totem Warrior are the two basic choices from The Player’s Handbook.  Battleragers are the dwarf-only option presented in The Sword Coast Adventurer Guide. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything gives us three more choices: Ancestral Guardian, Storm Herald, and Zealot.

Berserkers get an extra bonus attack when they enter a frenzy. They’re also able to shrug off charms and fear affects. Their intimidation presence is enough to frighten most foes, and anyone foolish enough to go toe-to-toe with them can face a retaliatory attack in response.

Totem Warriors are more versatile than their straight forward kin. At various stages of their development, they can choose which animal spirit to follow and will gain an aspect related to that. Whether it be the strength and toughness of the bear, the eyes and flight of the eagle, or the pack tactics of the wolf, Totem Warriors can mix and match animals to get just the right combo for their Barbarian.

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From The Player’s Handbook

Battleragers adorn themselves with spiked armor literally throwing themselves into battle. Their spiked armor may be used as a bonus weapon,  extra damage when they grapple a foe, or even as a retaliation in melee. Eventually they can bolster their health with temporary hit points granting them a little extra staying power while raging. They might also use a bonus action to Dash into melee range.

Ancestral Guardians have to be my favorite flavor-wise. When you rage you’re surrounded by spirit warriors that hinder your foes and protect your allies. In metagame terms, they make you sticky. The spirits grant resistance to your allies, and if your foe doesn’t attack you they have disadvantage. The spirits can also shield your allies directly by reducing the damage taken, and even reflecting it back as force damage. Your spirits can also be consulted and used for Augury or Clairvoyance spells, should the need arise.

Storm Heralds surround themselves with elemental storms. If you choose the desert you can deal fire damage to multiple foes, gain resistance to fire, or retaliate when struck with fire. If you choose the sea you can deal lightning damage to a single target, gain resistance to lightning, breathe underwater, gain a swim speed, and knock the target prone. Lastly if you choose tundra you grant multiple allies temporary hit points, gain resistance to cold, freeze water, and reduce a foes movement to zero.

Zealots are chosen by the divine. Each turn they can do extra damage with a weapon attack. This damage is either radiant or necrotic and is chosen when the path is taken. If they are restored to life by a spell there is no material cost. They can also reroll a failed save once per rage. Eventually, if they are raging death does not stop them. They will keep on fighting, even after failing three death saves. Even then if they are healed above zero hit points before the rage ends they will live.

The menu of meat-shields is vast, the choices vary, and if you want to play a Barbarian…then rage on.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Resolutions Nobody Keeps and How to Change That

 

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Every year around December, people start talking about New Years’ Resolutions. I find it kind of annoying. However, I understand that people want to better themselves and that they feel a new year is the best time to start something. I also know that most of the time it’s bullshit.

People get all nostalgic and feely around the holidays (for good reason) and that leads them to thinking they need to change their whole life to get back to some better time or better them. While I can understand trying to be a better you, I don’t believe you should try to be an old version of yourself again. You have progressed past that, whether the progressions are good or bad, and have to move forward to a new you. 

Before we get to the resolutions many make and don’t keep, let’s talk about why we don’t keep resolutions.

First off, many people make some huge resolution that they can honestly never dream of keeping. Saying “I’m going to eat healthier” but not being specific or realistic about it doesn’t work. Don’t suddenly start eating kale and drinking smoothies for every meal because that will get old fast and those cravings you are suppressing will eventually win.

Second, people know what they want to do, but don’t actually have a reason why they want to do it. Sure eating healthier sounds good, but without a strong basis as to why you want to your brain will eventually ask, “what’s the point?” and you won’t continue. 

Another reason is people are in a hurry to fulfill this resolution and don’t have the patience to do it correctly. Yes, eating healthier is good for you. But jumping face first doesn’t work for most people. Change small things gradually – maybe 1 thing a week. Otherwise it gets overwhelming and feels impossible and we quit. We also forget to look at our progress and see what we have accomplished.

Instead, we see what we didn’t accomplish and that de-motivates us.

The last reason I have is probably the most important step in attaining the end game: support. You need people to help support you. We crave motivation and positivity. We want someone to tell us we are doing a great job, that we can complete this, that we’ve come so far and can finish! 

With that in mind, it’s obvious what one of my 10 most common resolutions is that no one keeps, but here they all are:

  1. Eating healthier 
  2. Exercise more. 
  3. Save money. 
  4. Make new friends. 
  5. Live in the now. 
  6. Find a new job. 
  7. Spend more time on hobbies. 
  8. Clean out the junk in the house. 
  9. Have a better love life. 
  10. Help others more. 

All of these are great resolutions, if done correctly. But, recently, VanriTheRogue told me she preferred to call her New Year’s Resolutions “goals” and I think that is a much better mindset.

We know we have to work to obtain goals. With resolutions, we think it will just flip a switch and change. All of the above are attainable if you are specific about what you want to change, make slow progress towards completing it, have people to help you, and make sure that you track your progress to see how far you have come. 

With that in mind, a few of our Real Women of Gaming family have graced me with their goals for the year. And I’d like to say a few things about them: 

  • VanriTheRogue – Her biggest goal for this year is to finish her book. She also wants to be healthier to improve her health and read more books to improve her mind! She had success with her goal this past year – she wanted to have 1000 followers on Mixer. She attained this by trying to keep to a schedule, networking with other creators, and making sure to have fun with it. Great job!
     
  • SaltyHylian – He wants to reach at least 500 followers this year and stick to a schedule for streaming.

  • LadyJoCrawfX9 –  She wants to lose 30 pounds, double her savings, reach 300 followers, and stream more (on schedule!).

  • Azkadelya (me) – I want to continue to cook more at home and eat out less. It saves money, calories, and I really do love trying new recipes. I’ve failed on this the past few weeks with the holidays and I miss it. I also want to be more active. I don’t know yet what this means, but even if it’s going outside to play with the dogs more, parking farther from the door at the store, or whatever, I am gonna get off my butt a bit more! As far as streaming goals, I don’t have a number in mind because I know it all depends on my internet, but I would like to stream more and be consistent about it (which will get better once PAX South is over). 

If we all support each other, these are absolutely obtainable! 

I wish you all an amazing 2019 and good luck with whatever goals you see fit to choose to set. Remember to be specific, don’t overreach, get support, and track that progress. If you have ever completed a difficult goal before, then you know when you get about halfway it can get harder. Being able to look back and see all the progress you made can give you that extra burst to keep going!

Here’s a toast to a better year than we had in 2018, to our family, friends, and ourselves. We’ve made it this far and we can attain our goals this year! 

Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel had me within the first scene. Not many shows can hook a viewer within seconds. However with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the humor and heart of the story comes forth in those first few seconds.

Mariam Maisel has it all. She has two children, a apartment with an elevator man, loving parents, a husband whom she adores and a sharp wit. She also has a tiny waist and can make an amazing brisket. Nothing could ever go wrong to someone so blessed. Something does go wrong though and it sets off a chain of events of things going wrong.

It is only when everything falls apart is Mariam able to find out something important about herself. That wit might be able to be molded into something more. She is able to mold herself into something different. By falling apart Mariam sees new ways to try to fit the pieces back together. In the process the audience gets to meet her very relatable, yet hilarious, family. The audience journeys with Mariam armed with humor and a can do attitude as her world grows.   

The sets for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are, well, marvelous. The elaborate apartments, the dark clubs and everything in between set the tone for each scene. The costumes tell the viewer so much. The outfits of each character let you know their social background. They also help the viewer become immersed in the story and the time period. Each character’s look and design is so unique. 

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The soundtrack of the show is also wonderful. The music frames very scene perfectly. The soundtrack is also comprised of fun and danceable music. While The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a treat to watch. It is also wonderful to listen to.   

I really enjoy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It is a funny show that is also full of heart. The characters in the cast move the story along with more than just humor. Their highs and lows are a roller coaster ride that the viewer never wants to get off of. The storyline is full of twists and fun. It is empowering to watch these characters find themselves.

I would highly recommend The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel if only for the laughs alone.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!  

 

Games Created by Women: Blackwell’s Asylum

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Would you think you would be able to survive in a nineteenth century mental institution? What if, once admitted, you were sent to an asylum known as a place where no one ever left? What if the doctors were not only there to keep you from escaping but also to perform whatever atrocities on you that they wished?

Blackwell’s Asylum is a game that tests the abilities of the player to not only survive but also  to escape a terrifying asylum for the insane. Claudia Billie Stræde was the director of this game which started out as a project for the University she was attending. Blackwell’s Asylum was a multiple nominee. It also won Game of the Year and the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest. The game is also interesting becuase it was inspired by true events.

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Claudia was inspired by the written chronicle from Nellie Bly. Bly was a writer who had started her career as a young woman writing; “women’s columns.”  Bly wanted to write about more than cleaning and traveled to New York seeking opportunities. There she pitched the idea of going undercover at a mental hospital to expose what was really happening behind the closed doors of such institutions. For ten days she gained information and stories from other patients. Upon her release Bly wrote down everything in her six-part series called; Ten Days in a Mad-House. This work helped not only expose the crimes of the asylum but also gained more funding for public institutions to try to improve them.

The design of the game is interesting and unsettling. The player starts off, as Nellie, restrained as a doctor drugs them. The player then tries to escape. The coloring of the game is dark and it can make it difficult to determine where in the game the player is.  The effects of the drugs only aid in making the surroundings distorted and confusing.

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There are random shouts and other noises to make it difficult to focus. Blackwell’s Asylum does have a neat effect in which large circles like sonar when footsteps get closer to the player as they sneaking in the darkness. It is the only effect that helps the player with all the distortion. The character design is very well done. The sound effects also aid in the gameplay. 

Blackwell’s Asylum is an interesting first person game of escape.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Review: Escaflowne

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Escaflowne is one of the most gorgeous animes I have had the pleasure of watching. The series also has an interesting story and cast of characters. This is probably why fans enjoy Escaflowne so immensely.

The Vision of Escaflowne, it’s original title, first aired in both Japan and America in 1996. The series has had Mandy different directors for various episodes. The series was originally released by Sunrise.  Escaflowne was then licensed by Bandai Entertainment for release in other regions. Currently Escaflowne is licensed by Funimation.

Hitomi is an ordinary high school student. She runs track, has friends and other interests. Though, in reality, Hitomi isn’t quite as ordinary as it would seem. She has psychic abilities. After having a vision of a battle she is transported to a magical land called Gaea. There is a war raging and Hitomi maybe able to help.

The soundtrack of Escaflowne is lovely. It helps set the mood for the story being told throughout the series. It also gives the viewer clues about different characters and situations. The soundtrack is also fantastic to listen to on its own.

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The setting and character designs are really fantastic. The industrial, pastoral and modern settings are well animated as well as diverse. Each character has a different design. The costumes are a real treat to view throughout the length of the story. The battle scenes are also just really fantastic. Escaflowne treads the line between what most animes looked like in the mid-nineties and having a very distinct difference in animation. It really is a great anime to watch.

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It is safe to say that I really enjoy Escaflowne. The series is a total package for any anime fans. Great soundtrack. Interesting story. Fascinating characters with a little bit of romance. It was an anime that I would rush to watch on television. It was also a favorite in my group of friends, the series has clearly inspired our styles of art and storytelling through the years.

I would really encourage giving Escaflowne a try if you haven’t seen it yet. There is also an interesting, and slightly more grim, movie version that came out in 2000. 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games to Get Excited About: January 2019

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It’s that time of the month again! (And I mean that in a good way!) Not only is it a new month, but a new year! Happy 2019! Here’s to hoping it’s better than last year! So far it’s off to a good start, there are great games releasing this month. Let’s chat about a few! 


Resident Evil 2 – Re-imagined – January 25

If you are an older gamer and like horror the chances are high that you’ve played a Resident Evil game or two in your life. Even if you haven’t, you may have seen some of the movies. Well, they have re-imagined Resident Evil 2 because it was released over 20 years ago and sold almost 5 million copies.  The game was bloody, scary, and had horrible graphics (not for the time, just for now). The new re-imagination looks amazing and you can watch the trailer here. They have what they are calling an immersive camera that is supposed to let you “feel” it when you get bitten, plus there is tons of detail put into Raccoon City. If you love Resident Evil as much as I do, this is a must get. Even if you’ve never played it or watched the movies, it should be on your list if you are a horror game buff! 

The Walking Dead: The Final Season  Episode 3 – January 15  

I’ve personally never played a Tell Tale game, but I hear they are wonderful. Many people know they are having some issues with the company, but it seems they are bent on finishing what they started. Episode 3 is following Clementine and takes us 75% through the story for this season. Zombie games are one of my favorite things and the ones in The Walking Dead TV show are pretty fast, so if they are the same in this game you better make sure you have running shoes on! If you enjoy Tell Tale games or The Walking Dead in general this is probably a great game. 

Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – January 11 

 I grew up in the 90s and some of my favorite memories are of playing Super Mario Brothers, so while I don’t even own a Switch, I am super excited for this. This new game is a 2D Platformer that you can play solo or with up to 4 player. There are five different characters to choose from – Mario, Luigi, Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit. Now, if you are one of those people who thinks these games are too easy there are three extra challenge modes in this game to appease you! I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a Super Mario game, and I highly recommend you check it out! 

Last.. But definitely NOT least… 

Kingdom Hearts 3 – January 25


This is the game I am most excited for (even though I can’t get it because I don’t have a console /cry). I have played Kingdom Hearts from the very start and found it fascinating. If you are a gamer and a lover of all things Disney and you haven’t played this.. GET IT! I highly recommend starting from the beginning, but rumor has it you won’t need to do that to follow this new story. We will go to magical worlds like the 100-Acre Wood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Frozen, Tangled, and even Monsters, Inc! It took YEARS for this game to come out because they wanted it to be amazing and I have very high hopes. The game play looks beautiful and the characters make you fall in love with them.  

 


That’s all for this month, but there are plenty more games coming next month so stay tuned! And as always, ’til then, play what you love!