Automatic updates enabled. If only.

Hey all,

Don’t you wish you had an update hub so everyone can just be filled in with what’s going on with your life instead of you having to repeatedly tell people or different groups individually? But then again, I guess that wouldn’t make for much conversation or seeing each other I suppose.

Not being in school this term was a big change for me. Never have I ever missed a term of school and done something else, but here I am doing co-op while I see pictures of everyone back at UBC. Do I miss it? Yes. But at the same time, it’s a nice change. Plus, work is letting me get a glimpse of the real world— it’s not the most exciting and makes me wish I can stay in school forever, but it’s manageable. Or maybe I’m still waiting to find something I’m uber passionate about.

Working also means that I’m no longer just seeing my friends randomly around classes or on campus, and I realize it meant that I had to reach out in order to see people. I’m glad I realized this sooner rather than later, because I’ve got many dear friends that I would hate to lose contact with! The past few weeks have been me filling my schedule up so that we could check in on each other’s lives and also just talk in general! It also meant that I got to try out lots of new food places 🙂 It’s Vancouver and it’s currently fall/winter time. If you’re not at the movies or in a restaurant, where else would you be?

I finally tried Gyoza Bar with my friend Amy. Heard about it over the summer when it first opened, but never got a chance to go! I must say, their ramen broth really is something else! It’s thick and really flavourful! The egg isn’t as good at Marutama Ramen’s, but everything else was quite nice! We also ordered their special which was a chickpea karaage. It was very interesting since the chickpea was soft and warm on the inside, with its crispy karaage exterior.

Carmen showed me this dessert place near where I used to live in Marpole. It’s relatively new and it’s called Doolami Dessert. The mango pomelo sago was delicious and my friend got the durian one. It’s not easy finding Chinese dessert places in Vancouver, especially in the Vancouver West area, so this was great to know about! This place also makes their own pints of ice-cream (I know it’s winter, but hey, ice cream) with interesting flavours. Carmen got a pint of durian ice cream and I was contemplating the blueberry lavender. But apparently, the blueberry overpowers the lavender and I’m more for the lavender.

I also met up with my ex-supervisors from work (they had both moved on to pursue other opportunities!), and we went to Bella Gelateria’s new location in Yaletown! I ordered a meat-filled pizza (I remember salami on it, but don’t remember its fancy name), and one of the other girls ordered one with eggplant. I never liked eggplant, but thinly sliced then stone oven baked made it delicious. This may be a turning point between me and eggplant’s relationship. Overall, the place is kind of expensive, but you can get away with sharing 2 pizzas between 3 people.

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Doesn’t this look super artsy? A shot from the interior of The Greedy Pig. My hand shook when I took the photo and it blurred. So pro.

Last but not least, I met up with C, a fellow blogger here! Well, technically no longer on WordPress since he actually has his own domain now and blogs from there, but it was through WordPress that we had met. Talking to him made me realize that we had actually known each other for three years. I had first started my blog when we came across each others’. He had also moved away from Vancouver for a while, but now that he’s back we managed to meet up and chill. He had suggested this place called The Greedy Pig. Sadly, my appetite was crappy that day, but their mushroom soup was still good! C chowed down his mac and cheese fairly quickly, so I’m going to assume it was good. I’ve been by that place before, and was even going to eat dinner there once, but the line up was so ridiculous my friends and I ended up going elsewhere.

Of course, there’s other updates in my life. Another first for me was updating my Facebook relationship status. Never done that with a boyfriend before, so he’s something special 🙂 But that’s probably another story for another time.

– Karen

ArcheAge: A review

Hello everyone,

Screenshot my friend took from that one time I managed to log in. My face is about as ecstatic as my female character's face in game as I wait in the queue.

Screenshot my friend took from that one time I managed to log in. My face is about as ecstatic as my female character’s face in-game as I wait in the queue.

Here’s where I’d put my ArcheAge review. If I had one.

But I can tell you that being in queue is pretty sweet. There’s just something about being 3,782 in queue and knowing you’ve got “>1 hour” wait time left!

– Karen

“Guardians of the Galaxy”: A Movie Review

Hello all,

guardians_poster_via_marvel

Went to an advanced screening of Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday! Everyone was really excited, and I was told it was one of the most sought after movie screenings of the year! Luckily, my friends and I still managed to snag great seats!

Guardians revolves around a kid called Peter Quill, who had been separated from his family on Earth when he was young. He got abducted to another planet. He becomes a ravager (think space pirate), but amongst one of his missions to steal a mysterious metal sphere, he decides to sell it off to make a profit instead. Turns out there’s a lot more to the sphere than we all though. In order to save the universe from destruction, a group of unlikely heroes work together and form the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I had hopes for not crying in this film. Judging from the trailer and what I’ve heard about it, I expected it to be all laughs, but there were quite a few moments where it was (very) touching. In regards to this movie as opposed to the other recent ones set in the Marvel universe, be prepared to not have our own planet earth to ground yourself to the story. Very little of this movie happens on Terra, but instead we get introduced to different planets and zoom around space for a good part of it.

I thought this movie was quite good– looked really expensive to make! (Just googled out of curiosity. The budget was $170M.) Currently it has a 91% on Rottentomatoes and a 9/10 on IMDB. It opens tomorrow! A kid friendly movie, but also enjoyable for older audiences too 🙂

– Karen

Goodbye DayZ—Hello 7 Days!

Hey all,

During the Steam summer sales I finally got 7 Days to Die. I also made a bunch of my friends get it too so we’ve been playing every now and then. And I must say… it’s loads better than DayZ.

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Before getting DayZ, I was super excited and curious about it. A survival game that forces you to interact in a way that may come close to how you would in an actual apocalypse? Sounds fun! You must make sure you have food and water, and that you’re healthy and dry—all while fending of zombies.

Now both 7 Days and DayZ are in their alpha stages but here’s why I like 7 Days a million times better: for a game that’s charging people for their alpha, 7 Days is actually playable. Don’t get me wrong, they both have their bugs, but your experience with 7 Days is going to be a lot smoother.

In terms of the actual game, 7 Days also requires you to ensure your character is well fed, healthy, and there’s also a sprint bar. But food is a lot easier to consume (no need for the can opener in DayZ), and water is more common. Starting a fire to boil the water, crafting weapons to defend against zombies, creating locked doors—all these components work well in its alpha stages. When you die, you lose everything on your “belt”, but not in your backpack. 

DayZ frustrated me to no end because when you die, that’s it. You lose everything and start completely from scratch. While I first thought that was cool, I soon realized how overpowered the zombies in DayZ were, and alongside players who are all looking out for themselves, as well as the million other ways to die, you can see how starting from scratch is a real turn off. 

In 7 Days, if you die, you will be respawned in a random area of the map—much like DayZ. However, the map is smaller, making it less tedious to meet up with your friends. I remember when my friends and I would basically spend half (if not more) of our time trying to meet up in DayZ. Doesn’t really make for exciting gameplay. It felt like I bought Hiking Simulator for $30 instead. 

I really do enjoy 7 Days’ land claim block system, as well as the ability for your progress to be saved on a server so your locked chests and houses can be returned to. I also like the crafting system in the game. DayZ had pre-generated structures that you could not add or subtract from (also the zombies phased through the walls and floors…but I mean, it is still in alpha, so not going to judge them too harshly on this).

Our shelter for the night :)

Our shelter for the night 🙂

Maybe the “hardcore” zombie survival game that is DayZ just isn’t for me, but I honestly found 7 Days to Die a lot more enjoyable and fun to play with friends. At one point we had taken shelter in an abandoned house and started to set up base there. Suddenly some dude’s head popped into view through the window. It took us about 5 seconds to realize this was not one of us (you can’t actually see the names above people’s heads until you’re sufficiently close, and characters currently look a lot like each other), but by then the guy had opened fire on everyone in the room. Since we had about six people to his one, we took him out but were quick to fortify our temporary base with land mines.

Trying to break into some dude's locked house with a staircase made of furniture. Professional burglars here.

Trying to break into some dude’s locked house with a staircase made of furniture. Professional burglars here.

If I had to recommend one or the other, I would definitely suggest you get 7 Days to Die. It’s slightly cheaper too! 🙂 

– Karen

Alice: Madness Returns— Dementedly awesome

Hey all,

Caught in between classes and the many papers, projects and presentations that has lined my agenda. However, that makes this game I recently got perfect in terms of how I’m slowly going insane.

Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice. The premise of the story revolves around Alice having witnessed her family being killed in a  tragic fire. Having to face what she saw, and being the sole survivor, she is filled with the horrors that haunt her every day. In response, she escapes to a place she calls Wonderland, leading others in the real world to believe her mad. This game begins in 1875 and Alice is now 19. She has been released from the mental asylum, and is placed in an orphanage in Victorian London where Doctor Bumby watches over her. She’s getting better, but at the beginning of the game, she is sent to run an errand that accidentally leads her into Wonderland again, causing her to spiral down into her madness once again.

Now if you’re used to Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland, you’ll be pleasantly (maybe) surprised. The beginning of the game is absolutely stunning.

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The first screen cap I took in game. Couldn’t help myself— it was ridiculously beautiful.

This is not at all to say that the rest of the game is not stunning. I have to say that one of the main things that sold this game for me was how nice the graphics were. You’re moved from the natural beauty that is Wonderland before it starts to crumble in Alice’s mind, to a Steampunk-esque version of the Mad Hatter’s place. There is more (I’m only through the first chapter of the game…actually I’m stuck there, but I’ll explain why a little later on) as the game progresses, and people have hinted to me that it gets more disturbing.

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Oh look. It’s a statue of me crying.

Screencap borrowed from (x) since I have not yet gotten here yet.

What stood out to me was that at the very beginning of the game you already feel a sense of unease. There are no jump scares in this game (at least not yet for me), but as you wander through the orphanage, you can’t help but be a bit nervous for what to expect at every turn that you make. Psychological horror is awesome.

Now on to what I did not like about this game: it’s buggy. I am currently stuck in the last part of the first chapter because I cannot get my freaking umbrella open to act as a shield. It turns out that I will have to go through my configuration files in my computer to fix this. I also had issues with getting the mouse that pops up when you open the options screen to go away. I ended up with three cursors on my screen as I played the game. I had to restart the whole thing in order to make it disappear. Since this game is about three years old, I’m sure there won’t be any updates to deal with these issues, so if you do get this game, know that this is what you’re getting yourself into. It’s not horribly hard to fix, but it does mess with your game experience since you will have to exit the game in order to fix what is wrong.

Additionally, if you’re very into fighting (I guess I like it, but I understand that not every single game has to be focused on solely that), Alice is quite limited in those terms. The Vorpal blade that she uses is her main attack, and her swinging it is quite straightforward. You press your left moue button. There are a few more side weapons, such a pepper grinder that can be used as a ranged gun, and bombs, but they’re not as prominent.

Overall, I’m pretty excited to squeeze some more time out of studying and invest it into Alice: Madness Returns!

-Karen