Monday, October 30, 2006

A lovely meal and another convert to Mount and Blade

We had friends around for dinner this evening. Fair dues to my lovely other half - she cooked us a knockout meal. I can bask in some reflected glory though because I did the shopping! Our guests are a family just like us and the father a PC gamer who like me should be old enough to know better. We spent a couple of hours lingering over a lovely meal and then the gentlemen retired to the games room while the kids ran riot around the house and the ladies stayed at table and chatted. Kind of like Victorian times only the ladies and gents have reversed roles.

It is funny being an older gamer. It is not something I can normally discuss among my peers. Most of my friends (particularly female friends) seem to think it is bizarre that a man in his forties actually plays games!!! You can imagine how refreshing it is to talk with someone my own age who actually shares my hobby.

My friend is into shooters and strategy games so I showed him Guild Wars for a change. Amazingly he had never played a computer role playing game either online or offline so he was rightly impressed with Guild Wars. This is even more amazing considering this individual actually played real life Dungeons and Dragons quite seriously when he was younger. That is a level of nerdiness that I never even reached so I do hope I haven't started something he will grow to regret. I warned him solemnly never ever to start playing World of Warcraft. I don't want to have the break-up of a family on my conscience.

Then I showed him Mount and Blade and that really hooked him. His wife had to drag him away from the keyboard at going home time. For those who have never played it Mount and Blade is an as yet unfinished game being produced by a Turkish Husband and Wife team. The best way to describe the game in its current state is that it is a paper thin first person role playing game tacked on to the most sublimely awesome combat experience of any game around today. The thrill of riding around like a knight of old cleaving heads from shoulders is tremenduous. You can actually run enemies through with a couched lance - how cool is that?
GW has Guilds - who would have thought?

After going the long way around to Lion's Arch I now have to go back and fill in all the missions I missed along the way. Luckily I fell in with an excellent pick up group and we breezed through two missions in under two hours including all bonuses. I surprised myself that my Mesmer character didn't suck in group play despite the fact that I have pretty much played solo with henchmen up to now. I even got invited to join a Guild - Woot! It seems like a friendly guild with mature members so I've accepted and signed up.

Guilds are funny things. I played World of Warcraft for about two months before I joined a Guild. Chatting and playing with guild mates brought a whole new dimension to the game which I enjoyed. However it also brought new pressures. I am a bit of a loner at heart and sometimes it bugged me that I could never log on anonymously when I was in a guild. I was also a very poor attender at guild events because they often clashed with family responsibilities.

It will be interesting to see how I get on in my new GW guild. The person who invited me assured me that casual membership is fine. GW doesn't have long instances or raids like WOW so as long as I don't get involved in hardcore PVP it should be easier to stay a causal.
Lion's Arch - the long way

So I made it to Lions arch without following the missions. It wasn't too tough after all. Apart from a detour (see below) the hardest mobs I had to beat were some lvl 17 skale in Northern Kryta. By the time I got there I was level 14 with 5 lvl 10 henchmen and we breezed through. Mind you it took a long time - it would probably have been quicker to do the missions.

I have to say I am seriously impressed by the new smarter henchmen. The healer (Aleysia) seems to be 10 times better at staying alive and is pretty on the ball when it comes to healing. At one stage we accidentally wandered into a high level area called Lornar's Pass. Me (lvl 13) and my 5 henchmen (lvl 10) were immediately confronted with four mobs ranging from lvl 22 to lvl 24!!!. Amazingly we survived and beat them. Mind you I got over confident then and was soon eaten alive by some terrifying monster worms which literally exploded out of the ground under our feet. It was all worth it though - I managed to snag a golden sword from a chest which I think I'll be able to sell for 20,000G. I'm rich!!!,

Lion's Arch is all decked out for the return of the Mad King on the 31st of October. Many of his followers seem to have turned into animals or monsters. Its all very jolly. Mind you there is serious money to be made selling the collectable items which can be traded for novelty Halloween gifts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Guild Wars - Running to lions Arch the long way

This being the weekend before Halloween Arena-net have included some special content for the event. Trouble is the special content is in Lion's Arch and my level 12 toon has only gotten as far as Yak's Bend. Lion's Arch is still half a world away across the forbidding Shiverpeak mountains. Now I could just play through the game missions and end up in Lions Arch eventually. Alternatively I could pay a high level character to run me to Lion's Arch. However I have decided to do this the hard way - I am determined to solo my way to Lions arch by running over the mountains. To be honest it isn't really soloing - I have a team of computer controlled henchmen to aid me. These guys tend to have lowish levels and are not always the brightest but sometimes that's an advantage. At least their behaviour is more predictable than that of human companions.
The unkindest cut (continued)

So I went to the doctor to talk about a vasectomy. Bit of a waste really. It turns out that my GP doesn't do vasectomies but he can refer me to someone who does. He gave me a bunch of advice about the operation. Mind you there was nothing I couldn't look up on the internet so I was a bit peeved to be charged €50 for the consultation. A major theme of his advice was the fact that the operation should really be considered to be irreversible and that I should be absolutely sure I want it before going ahead. This hasn't helped make my mind up - it just makes me even less sure about the whole thing. He did give me one choice I hadn't considered before. Apparently I can have the procedure under local anaesthetic or under general anaesthetic. Now I realise that a general anaesthetic is a serious business not be be undertaken lightly but I don't know how comfortable I would be to have someone cutting into my privates while I was fully conscious.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Currently playing: Guild Wars

Gaming is a big thing in my life. PC gaming that is. However I am too old and too mean to keep up with the latest trends so I generally survive on games that are 6 months to a year out of date. I am currently playing the original Guild wars (prophecies campaign) I picked it up for €15 in a local game shop. A complete bargain - MMORPG style gaming without the monthly fee. Of course all the hot shots are now playing the third instalment (called Nightfall) which was just released yesterday. However people like me get some benefits from the new release too. There are some handy new features. Salvaging rare items to try and extract magical items is now a whole lot better - you get to see what you will get before your salvage. There is also a handy new button for ordering your henchmen to move to a spot. Unfortunately I can't find a way to separate the fighters from the casters but at least it's a start. The henchmen seem to have better AI too - this may just be my imagination but my healer henchperson doesn't seem to charge in to her death quite as often any more.
The unkindest Cut

I dont usually discuss private details of my life with total strangers but sometimes its is easier to say things to strangers than to friends.

The thing is I am going to a doctor this morning to talk about getting a vasectomy and I am really confused about it.

I am in my early forties, my wife in her mid thirties. We have a lovely family but there are medical reasons why it would be dangerous for us to have any more kids. Over the years my wife has borne the brunt of contraceptive interventions. She was on the pill for years and had a coil for several more. Then there was the morning after pill following a split condom incident. I know these things are supposed to be harmless but I guess you don't fill your body with artifical hormones for years without some side effects. Contraception has given my wife headaches, and high blood presure, it has interfered with her moods and her sex drive and in the case of the coil it has contributed to chronic back pain. Add in the damage to her body caused by childbirth itself and you will understand why I will not, can not ask the woman I love to subject her body to yet another intereference. It is my turn now - and in any case vasectomy is much simpler, safer and more effective than the female equivalent.

So why am I confused?

I guess there is a part of me that does not accept that I am growing old. That does not accept that I will no longer father another child. I love my wife dearly, I have never been unfaithful to her and I never will be but for some reason the fact that I won't be able to make any other woman pregant either is really getting to me. This is not rational stuff it is almost subconcious. The ability to father children right into old age is part a man's birthright and I am finding it hard to give that up.

If I probe deeper it gets even more complicated. I find that there is still a little boy inside of me. That litte boy refuses to accept that I have already grown up. He refuses to accept that I have already made the life choices which define who I am and what I do as an adult. That little boy seems to think that I can still run off and join the circus. That little boy still thinks that any day now I will receive the call to head off and hunt dragons, conquer bug-eyed aliens and rescue beautiful princesses. He is with me each and every day as I live through the hum drum routines of everyday life. He entertains me and enthralls me with thoughts and possibiities of things that could have been and things that might yet be.

That little boy is an important part of me and an important part of my life and he is not happy about my plans to get a vasectomy. The admission that a phase of my life has ended and that certain possibilities are no longer open to me is a betrayal of everything that little boy believes in. For that litte boy nothing ever ends and the possibilities are always limitless.
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